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In defiance of the DNR’s constitutional mandate to protect the health and well being of Missourians,  to protect the quality and quantity of water in the state, and to protect our state parks and historic sites, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is determined to license CAFOs. 

As I reported in my last posting, the DNR just last Friday licensed a chicken CAFO on the uplands above Roaring River State Park, less than a mile from the park boundary, and it is set soon to do the same for a hog CAFO less than two miles from Arrow Rock State Park, close to the village of Arrow Rock, a picturesque historic site, known for its historic Lyceum Theater.

Despite noisy and often emotional protests from those who will be living with the stench and who are likely to lose their livelihood from the local tourist industry, the DNR has proceeded.  Doyle Childers, DNR director, insists that he is bound by law to grant licenses to CAFOs that meet the legal standards for preserving local water quality.  But that claim is …please pardon me …hogwash.  Or, if you prefer, chickenshit.

He and his agency are doing far more than acquiescing to the law.  They are bending the law–ignoring it, even–so that they can grant those licenses.

Consider:  The DNR is bound by law to protect water quality.  CAFOs, by their very nature, threaten local water supplies.  As I mentioned before:

McDonald County, in the southwest corner of the state, has plants operated by Tyson, Simmons and MoArk, with CAFOs for all three corporations.  Every water body in that county is on the impaired water bodies list.  Despite the danger of water pollution, the DNR granted the Ozbun family [next to Roaring River State Park] final clearance last Friday to begin operating their chicken CAFO.

Any time a CAFO operator knifes tons of hog or chicken feces into a relatively small area of land, it can seep down into the water table.

Consider also:  The DNR granted the license to the Ozbuns despite a stay (that is, a court injunction) against the continued construction of their CAFO.  Citizens of Roaring River appealed to the Administrative Hearing Board for a stay on construction of the Ozbun chicken CAFO and it was granted.  Nevertheless, the Ozbuns kept building and the DNR let them.

Once construction was finished, the DNR sent an engineer to certify that the CAFO had been constructed as designed.  He refused to put his seal on it because the stay was still in effect.  So the DNR sent another, more compliant engineer, who did affix his seal.  And the license was granted. 

Who cares about some silly old legal stay? 

The arrogance of the DNR and Childers in thumbing their nose at the law fair takes one’s breath away, especially since they insist that (imagine here the sad wag of Childers’ head) they simply had no choice but to grant the license.

Consider, finally:  The DNR is mandated by the state constitution to protect state parks and historic sites.  Yet the feces from the Arrow Rock hog CAFO could be spread within fifty feet of the park boundary if a local landowner gives permission.  Common sense–not to mention a dollop of empathy–would forbid allowing a CAFO in that vicinity.  But if the DNR lacks common sense, it should at least obey the law and protect the parks and historic sites from the stench.  Missouri has one of the best state park systems in the country, being consistently rated in the top five.  No.  Make that “HAD” one of the best state park systems.

Obviously, only legal action by committed citizens will stay Childers and the DNR from their cavalier disregard for our citizens and our natural resources.  More on that topic tomorrow, in the last of this three part series.

photo courtesy of the Village of Arrow Rock