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Wasson Report 3.8.12

Giving Homeowners a Choice

A sinkhole, also known as a doline, is a depressed area in the ground, usually caused by the dissolution of bedrock from subterranean water or the collapse of underlying caves. Basically, it’s a hole below the surface covered by a layer of soil. Some are shallow, and no more than a slight dip in the land. Others can be hundreds of feet deep and look like craters.

The problem, though, is that sinkholes are hard to spot. They often just look like normal land, leading people to unknowingly build homes on top of them. Then, the weight of the house’s foundation and the continuing erosion below the surface causes the land to just collapse into the sinkhole. And, this can happen randomly, with no warning.

Missouri is particularly vulnerable to sinkholes because we have what is called a karst landscape, a geological formation caused by subterranean drainage wearing away carbonate rock, like limestone, which our state has in abundance. This is in part why we have so many caves. It also puts us at a higher risk for sinkholes. The Ozark Plateau, which stretches through most of southwest Missouri, is one of the largest karst regions in the United States. As you can see on the map, sinkholes are highly concentrated in our area.

In the last few years, sinkholes have become more active in southwest Missouri. I personally know of two sinkholes in Nixa alone, and there are others throughout the region. In one instance, an entire house was swallowed by a sinkhole. These are dangerous occurrences that can destroy property, sometimes causing a home to be a complete loss.

There is sinkhole insurance in Missouri, but not many companies offer it, and the policies are very limited. People should have the option of purchasing sinkhole insurance, especially in areas where there’s a real threat.

This week, the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee conducted a hearing on Senate Bill 616, which would require homeowner insurance companies to offer sinkhole coverage. Home insurers offer policies that cover almost any natural disaster that can happen in Missouri. Sinkholes, however, are noticeably absent. My legislation would simply add sinkholes to those disasters covered under homeowner insurance. If a company did not offer sinkhole insurance, it would be required to note that on the policy. This is a straightforward bill that addresses a clear-cut problem. People should have the choice to insure their homes against sinkholes, and this legislation would give them that option.

Hunter Safety Critical as

Turkey Season Approaches

On the third Monday in April, hunters throughout Missouri will take to the woods for the beginning of turkey season. Hunting is a treasured recreational activity in our state, and for some, the highlight of the year. However, there are dangers involved in the sport. Any time you have hundreds of people with firearms tromping through the woods for the sole purpose of shooting at moving targets, the risk factor for accidents increases. It is important people know and follow safety standards while hunting.

For more than 50 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has offered hunter education classes to ensure state residents are safe, responsible hunters. Since the department began offering these classes, the rate of hunting accidents in Missouri has reduced by more than 80 percent.

The 10-hour hunter education course covers firearm safety, hunter responsibility and ethics, wildlife identification, game care, survival and first aid skills, hunting techniques, habitat management and rules unique to Missouri. The MDC also offers an online course as a convenient way to take the class. A half-day field course is also required, though.

To find out more information on hunter education courses and the upcoming turkey season, visit the Department of Conversation’s website at www.mdc.mo.gov.

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