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Celebrating 40 years of taking care of Missouri’s natural resources, 1974 - 2014

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Passage of several significant federal environment laws including the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act helped build a foundation for a healthier America. Growing concern for protection of Missouri’s natural and cultural resources led the Missouri Legislature to create the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The department was created on July 1 under the Omnibus State Reorganization Act of 1974 bringing together nearly 15 existing agencies with complementary missions.  

The department helps develop mineral resources in an environmentally safe manner, protects Missouri’s land, air and water resources and works to preserve the state's cultural and natural heritage through state parks and state historic sites and the state historic preservation office.

During the last 40 years, the department has experienced many challenges and transformations since it was first created. The department will continue to work to provide an enhanced quality of life for its citizens and take the most sustainable path forward to protect, preserve and enhance Missouri’s natural and cultural resources. These resources are also critically important to the economic wellbeing of the state, and protecting these resources helps ensure future prosperity.

The Department of Natural Resources looks forward to the next 40 years, as it continues to take care of Missouri’s natural resources and provides all Missourians a healthy environment in which to live, work and enjoy the great outdoors.

Our Air ResourcesOur Air Resources photo

Missouri’s air sustains us in everything we do. Whether working in a garden, waiting for a bus or hitting home runs, clean air is essential to our health and very existence. Protecting and enhancing air quality is a challenging responsibility that requires participation from state and local governments, regulated entities and the general public. Missouri’s air quality has steadily improved during the last 40 years; however, tightening air quality standards are requiring additional controls to protect our air resources. The department strives to maintain and improve the quality of Missouri's air to protect public health, general welfare and the environment.

Our Geologic Resources photo

Our Geologic Resources

Since 1853, the department’s Missouri Geological Survey has provided reliable scientific information to describe and understand Missouri’s wealth of natural resources. The division provides information about the characteristics of the state’s geology that is essential for informed decision making, environmental protection and economic development that enhance and protect our quality of life.


Our Land and Soil Resources

Our Land and Soil Resources photoOur land sustains us by producing the fruits, vegetables and grains necessary to nourish our bodies and the timber that provides us shelter. The crops our land produces also are an important source of income for many in Missouri’s rural communities. Minerals and rocks contribute to the economy of the state in a variety of ways. Some of these raw materials are key components in construction of roads, bridges, buildings, homes and numerous other products. Mining is the second largest economic income for the state next to agriculture. Limestone products are used in agricultural applications, pharmaceutical products, paper manufacturing, paint, glass making, cement and pollution control technologies.

Damaging our land by soil loss, polluting our soil or improperly disposing of solid waste and hazardous waste can have far-reaching consequences. From the forested Ozarks and rolling hills to the plains and prairies full of life, our land is an asset the Department of Natural Resources is committed to protecting and enhancing.

Our Special Places photo

Our Special Places

The Missouri state parks and historic sites offer visitors some of the greatest opportunities to get outdoors and into nature to appreciate the beauty that our state has to offer. The Missouri state park system has a proud tradition of preserving and interpreting the state’s most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks while providing a variety of recreational opportunities.

The Missouri State Park system includes 87 outstanding state parks and historic sites that provide the public more than 200,000 acres to discover, explore, learn and enjoy. More than 60 percent of the acreage in the state park system has been donated to the state and Missourians can certainly take pride in this remarkable record, including the most recent donation of Don Robinson State Park.

Missouri’s state park system offers something to suit everyone's taste - outdoor adventure, great scenery and a bit of history and continues to be recognized by the National Parks & Recreation Association as one of the Top Four state park systems in the country. With Missouri’s 87 state parks and historic sites, the possibilities are boundless, so get outdoors and visit one today!


Parks, Soils and Water Sales Tax

Parks, Soils and Water Sales Tax Parks photo Parks, Soils and Water Sales Tax soils photoTo support the state’s park system and to help protect soil and water resources, Missouri voters passed the one-tenth-of-one-percent, parks-and-soils sales tax in 1984. The tax was created through a constitutional amendment with proceeds split evenly between the state park system and efforts to protect soil and water resources. Two-thirds of voters overwhelmingly reapproved the tax in 1988, 1996 and 2006. The tax is earmarked for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and provides funding to support the Soil and Water Conservation Program and 114 districts as well as about three-fourths of the Division of State Parks’ funding for the operation and development of state parks.  Revenues generated in the state park system are the other main revenue source.

State Historic Preservation photoState Historic Preservation

Our state has a rich heritage. Historic preservation is crucial to ensure that examples of our past are available for generations to come. The department helps identify, evaluate and protect Missouri’s cultural resources. An increasing number of Missouri’s buildings, structures, objects, sites and districts have been recognized by being formally listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the nation’s honor roll of historically significant resources. Missouri has more than 2,000 listings in the register with more than 35,000 individual resources. Appreciation of the value of hisotirc resources is one way of fostering their preservation. The department’s efforts help enhance Missouri's significant cultural landmarks for all to appreciate.

Our Water Resources

our water resources photoOur Missouri waters are as diverse as the varied landscapes they flow through. Missouri is blessed with natural diversity like no other state in the nation. Missouri’s flowing waterways and lakes are important to our quality of life in Missouri and play an essential role in the state’s overall health and economic well-being. Our lakes, rivers and streams provide us with quality drinking water, abundant fish stocks, irrigation, recreation and other vital services.

We have made significant improvements to our state’s water quality. We protect Missouri’s water resources by permitting and inspecting potential sources of pollution, at facilities throughout the state. Groundwater levels are monitored and well installers are regulated to assure abundant, high-quality groundwater for Missouri. Dams are inspected to ensure they are constructed properly and that people and property are protected. In addition to flood protection, the department helps Missourians plan for and respond to droughts and protect and restore wetlands. Maintaining a clean supply of drinking water also is critical for Missouri’s health and its future.

Future improvements will require a new approach – one that looks at the whole watershed and all the potential sources of water pollution. The department remains committed to monitoring, protecting and improving Missouri’s most precious resources – our water quantity, drinking water and water quality.

Department of Natural Resources’ Strategic Vision

vision photoThe Department of Natural Resources has established a number of transformational priorities and foundational activities that will more fully achieve the department’s mission and strategic vision. The department is completing its strategic vision by updating its strategic plan and set of core key priorities and activities that will provide the framework for an even stronger future.

The transformational priorities include: Our Missouri Waters, Community Services, Compliance Assistance and Youth Education.  Each of the transformational priorities serves a critical constituency of the department and builds upon existing relationships. These priorities are designed to improve the way the department delivers or provides services to its customers. In some cases the transformational priorities will provide services and education in areas previously not fully addressed by the department, such as assistance to Missouri’s smaller communities and youth education.

The department’s foundational activities include: Strategic Financial Planning, Succession Planning, Enhancing Science and Technology, IT Governance and Business Process Improvement. The foundational activities serve to support the transformational priorities, as well as the many on-going core department functions and strategic division efforts. The department’s key messages will ensure its mission, vision and strategic priorities are related in such a way that will help engage the support of its constituents and demonstrate how the agency benefits the citizens, businesses and communities of Missouri.

Of course, the core functions of each division and program within the department continues to be a critical importance to the mission and vision of the agency. These priorities will help support this work and encourage collaboration among staff and the department’s many external partners. The priorities, activities and functions, when combined, form the basis of the department’s strategic planning efforts.

Implementation of these priorities will not occur overnight, but will require time as the department’s approach evolves, using lessons learned from current and past efforts, as well as, pilot programs.

Together, we can help make Missouri an even better place to live, work and enjoy the great outdoors!

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