Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt plans to appeal an Oregon County judge’s recent ruling that would require the state to sell some of the land it bought for an Eleven Point State Park.
The judge ruled that a Wild and Scenic easement along the banks of the Eleven Point River barred public use along the easement and thus could not be used as a state park.
He ordered the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to sell the 625 acres of Wild and Scenic easement land, a portion of the larger 4,167 acres that would make up Eleven Point State Park.
In a notice to the 37th Judicial Circuit court, Schmitt laid out several questions that he would raise during the appeal, Among them:
- Whether the trial court erred in its finding that the action of DNR acquiring the state park land was “arbitrary and capricious”?
- Whether the trial court erred in finding that DNR does not have discretion to manage or restrict access to state park property subject to the federal easement.
- Whether the trial court violated the separation of powers principle by ordering DNR to divest itself of approximately 625 acres of land?
- Whether the trial court erred in granting plaintiffs standing?
- Whether the trial court erred in its finding that “public use” means the actual physical presence and access by the public through the Scenic River Easement portions of the park?
- Whether the trial court erred in its application of the federal Wild and Scenic River Act and its interpretation of the easement to the facts of this case?
The Missouri Sierra Club has closely followed the case and supports the creation and opening of Eleven Point State Park. Chapter chair Jennifer Conner cheered Schmitt’s decision to appeal judge Steven Privette’s ruling.
“We’d like to thank the hundreds of Missourians who contacted the state and we applaud and thank Attorney General Schmitt and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for appealing the erroneous decision to sell state park land along the Eleven Point River,” Conner said.
“Missourians love their state parks as evidenced by their continuous and overwhelming support of the parks and soils tax,” she added. “The Eleven Point State Park, along Missouri’s only Wild and Scenic River, has the potential to be a crown jewel of our state park system and the Missouri Sierra Club looks forward to continuing to help this spectacular new park become a reality!”
The nearby landowners who initiated the lawsuit against DNR are Van and Elizabeth McGibney and trustee James Conner. They had argued that land in the Wild and Scenic Easement could only be used for agricultural purposes and not for a state park.
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