The department’s Division of State Parks, known as Missouri State Parks, works to protect and interpret the state’s most outstanding natural and cultural resources while providing recreational opportunities compatible with those resources. The Missouri state park system was established in April 1917 and includes 93 state parks and historic sites, totaling more than 150,000 acres. Every year, millions of people visit the state park system to hike, camp, fish, discover the past and explore nature.
Missouri was one of the first in the nation to establish the State Historic Preservation Office in 1968 following the Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The office helps facilitate the process of identifying historic properties significant to the citizens, state and nation, and planning for their preservation. State historic sites commemorate events or structures of statewide historical importance and honor people of state and national importance. The system also includes homes of famous Missourians, Civil War battlefields and reminders of yesterday, such as gristmills and covered bridges.
The division is also responsible for administering three federal grant pass-through programs that provide financial assistance to individuals, groups and public entities for a variety of outdoor recreation and historic preservation purposes.