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Move to designate Missouri 'Great Rivers State' starts flowing

Current and Jacks Fork rivers
National Parks Service

From barbecue to Branson, Missouri possesses plenty of noteworthy ventures. But a push is underway to showcase one of the state's most scenic features -- its rivers.

State Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, plans to introduce a resolution Tuesday in the Missouri Senate to spur the state's Department of Tourism to tout Missouri as the "Great Rivers State."

According to a draft obtained by the Beacon, the resolution will encourage the use of the "Great Rivers State" as a slogan for Missouri. It will also urge the Division of Tourism to recognize and incorporate the slogan in promoting tourism.

"Two of this country's greatest waterways, the Mississippi River on Missouri's eastern border and the Missouri River, which winds across the state, helped Missouri become a supply center for many of the westward-bound settlers of the nation's early years," the resolution states.

In an e-mail, Lamping's aide Jennae Neustadt said the resolution must go through the committee before it receives a vote on the Senate floor. If the Senate passes it, the measure would go to the House -- and through a similar process.

Holly Neill, the executive director of the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition, said the measure isn't meant to supplant the "Show Me State" as a motto. The resolution notes, for example, the state is already called the "Cave State," the "Lead State," the "Bullion State," the "Ozark State," the "Iron Mountain State" and the "Pennsylvania of the West."

Rather, Neill said she's hoping the resolution will provide a bit of incentive for people to explore -- and conserve -- some of the state's waterways.

"It really showcases and allows people to fully embrace the fact that we have such wonderful natural resources in our water and streams and rivers all across the state," Neill said. "It's just something that Missourians really value. And it's just a way to showcase that value and connect us to the water we have in the state."

The resolution comes as "Great Rivers State" license plates are being sold. Once enough plates are snatched up, Neill said they'll become available to the general public.

"It's kind of perfect timing now that we have the Great Rivers State on the specialty plate," Neill said. "It'll be a nice complement."

Jason Rosenbaum, a freelance journalist in St. Louis, covers state and local government and politics. This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.