- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is holding off on two land purchases, marking a shift in policy after eight years of park expansion under former Gov. Jay Nixon.

The projects on hold include the purchase of land and property for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the purchase of a building in Ste. Genevieve that is a remnant of the last colonial French town in the U.S., the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2mHfdWv ) reported.

Department spokesman Tom Bastian said the state is changing its focus from expansion to ensure current parks are maintained.

“With a new administration and a new director, the department is closely reviewing all land purchases,” he said. “In light of concerns over recent state park acquisitions, the department’s focus will be to prioritize maintenance and improvements at existing parks and historic sites in order to keep our nationally recognized state parks system functional and safe for all Missourians and our visitors.”

Former State Parks Director Bill Bryan said he was fired without explanation last month. The Jay Nixon State Park in Reynolds County was shuttered earlier this month because of “potential public safety concerns.”

The state added seven new parks during Nixon’s tenue. Some used money Missouri received from a settlement over lead pollution with American Smelting and Refining Co.

It’s unclear whether Greitens‘ moves will satisfy Republican lawmakers, who opposed Nixon’s expansions. Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, has filed multiple bills aimed at reining in what he deemed a land grab by the former governor.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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