On Sunday, April 24, 2016, we celebrated Earth Day across the globe, and Missouri Coalition for the Environment made it out to Earth Day in Forest Park. Nearly 75 people signed up for the #moparkschallenge, and many more stopped by our booth to learn about our efforts to protect our local environment! Below are three reasons to love the Missouri Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax following Earth Day 2016. By this time, you know that the tax helps support our state parks, and is the reason they’re free! However, the effects of the tax reach so much further than providing a service for free:

Terrace system to control erosion on a Missouri farm.
Terrace system to control erosion on a Missouri farm.

1. Prior to the 1982 enaction of the sales tax, Missouri farmers were losing nearly 11 tons of soil per acre, every year. This soil was being carried into Missouri waterways such as streams and rivers, bringing with it pollutants like pesticides and herbicides that harm human, plant, and animal life. Today, thanks to the tax, Missouri sets the highest standard among similarly-sized farming states, having prevented the loss of nearly 200 million tons of soil since the ’80s.

2. Good farming practices that are funded by the sales tax create healthier farming lands, which create higher yields for farmers in the long run. It makes economic sense to implement changes under the Cost-Share and AgSALT programs that are funded by the tax. Examples of some practices are: crop rotation and pasture management, the use of terraces or no-till farming on lands prone to severe erosion, and the creation of field-border strips that protect sensitive areas like streams and rivers from pollution and sediment deposit by using trees and grasses as buffers between cultivated lands and sensitive areas.

Example of a field-border strip protecting this Missouri stream.

3. Finally, the Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax provides protection for native plants and wildlife. By funding the protection of nearly 150,000 acres of public lands that conserve a variety of ecosystems, as well as by funding programs that protect wetlands, watersheds, and streams near agricultural sites, native Missouri plants and animals are guaranteed their habitat for many generations to come.

The Parks, Soils, and Water Sales Tax unites a variety of taxpayers, from landowners to environmentalists, farmers to outdoorsmen-and-women or the casual visitor to Missouri State Parks, in the common cause of keeping our local environment habitable for people, plants, and animals alike. What’s not to love about that?