Scenic Missouri was established in 1993 to address the threat of visual blight caused by the proliferation of billboards plaguing so many cities and regions of our state. Since then, we have become the foremost advocate for, and authority on, scenic preservation issues in Missouri.
Education, Billboard Control & Community Appearance
Scenic Missouri provides educational and technical services to communities across the state on aesthetic issues including billboard and sign control, landscaping standards, tree preservation, and the regulation of communication towers.
On the state level, our past successful advocacy significantly improved what was one of the weakest billboard laws in the nation. Our legislative priority today is to defeat attempts to erode state law by allowing nonconforming billboards to be upgraded to digital technology or rebuilt during highway construction.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Environmental Justice
Scenic Missouri believes that all people, regardless of economic status, race, or nationality are entitled to live in beautiful, clean, and safe communities.
It has been well-documented that billboards advertising alcohol and tobacco products (when tobacco products were permitted to be advertised on billboards) are more prevalent in lower income, minority, and undeserved areas, especially in large metro areas, such as Missouri’s two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis. Scenic Missouri strives to address this phenomenon by organizing local advocacy efforts to eventually eliminate ALL billboards in ALL residential areas.
During the 2000 state-wide campaign to prohibit new billboards on Missouri’s federal-aid highways, Scenic Missouri partnered with the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, neighborhood associations, and other civic organizations in both Kansas City and St. Louis to get out the vote. Voters in the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and Jackson County got the message and strongly supported the proposition.
Our plans strive to build our capacity to partner with underserved communities to improve sign and billboard control, and promote high-quality and context-sensitive road and highway design (highways that respect the integrity of low income and minority neighborhoods and not depress property values).
Scenic Missouri remains committed to addressing the issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as striving to support the principles of environmental justice in our communities.
Scenic Byways/ Heritage Tourism
The Scenic Byways program recognizes highways rich in scenic, historic, and other special qualities. Scenic Missouri has helped develop the Byways program and by law is represented on the Missouri Scenic Byways Advisory Committee. We work closely with Missouri Department of Transportation on the direction of the program and provide technical services for byway communities. With Missouri’s abundance of natural beauty and visually distinctive communities, our goal is to increase Missouri heritage tourism by helping to establish one of the premiere scenic byways programs in the nation.
Missouri has an abundance of special roads that offer travelers wonderful scenery, history, culture, recreation, and other qualities that showcase our splendid heritage. Ten of these roads are officially designated as Missouri Scenic Byways and offer visitors unique and memorable Missouri experiences.
Missouri is a unique state with a variety of natural scenery, recreational areas, parks, historic sites, and communities. Roadways provide easy access to these areas and the scenic byways program is designed to promote their special qualities. One of the key benefits of the program is the added economic opportunities and increased tourism provided to communities along the designated route. A program promoted statewide through maps and other literature can expand the number of visitors to an area, which can generate economic growth and increase community recognition. Missouri byways communities received more than $3 million in grants between 2000 and 2007, with more funding opportunities anticipated in the future.
Green Highways Initiative
Our Green Highways Initiative advocates for the inclusion of environmental stewardship best practices as Missouri engages in highway projects. Through a strong commitment to utilizing Green Highway tools, such as native landscaping, eco-system restoration, scenic easements and alignments that respect the landscape, Missouri can create a 21st-century highway system that enhances the environment, natural beauty, and community character of our beautiful state.
Scenic Missouri also supports other scenic conservation issues, including utility infrastructure undergrounding and encouraging equitable access to parks and open spaces.