The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District delayed the official season opening of Corps-operated recreation areas along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System until at least May 1.
Boat ramps will remain open where feasible.
The delayed opening is due to a fiscal year 2013 budget reduction for the navigation system. While the Corps of Engineers continue to assess the recently signed continuing resolution, the district has identified potential shortfalls for the navigation system.
This may necessitate the cancelation of recreation-related service contracts and it may cancel the hiring of temporary park rangers. Once the final budget is received, officials will determine whether to open the areas or suspend operation for the remainder of the recreation season. Some parks along the system may have been accessible throughout the winter with limited services, but these park openings will also be delayed.
“Once we analyze the final budget we can determine if we need to cancel these contracts and positions,” said John Marnell, Deputy Operations Division chief. “Public health and safety is a top priority and we cannot safely operate these parks without proper ranger staff service and contracts.”
At this time, the impacts only pertain to recreation areas along the MKARNS and do not impact other Tulsa District lakes. At most civil works projects, the Tulsa District will be able to defer some operating expenses. However, even with those types of reductions taken into account, the total savings may not be enough to absorb the budget reductions for the navigation system.
“The lock and dams, powerhouses, and the continued operation and maintenance of the navigation system are critical to our nation’s infrastructure and economic growth,” said Marnell. “We must make tough decisions that allow us to still provide these high priority, critical services while operating within a reduced budget.”
While the impacts of delaying opening these campgrounds will be felt by the public, there are alternatives at other Corps recreation areas at nearby lakes. Eufaula Lake is the closest alternative for campgrounds at R.S. Kerr, Tenkiller Lake is the closest alternative to Webbers Falls, and Fort Gibson is the closest alternative for Chouteau and Newt Graham.
The impacts are as follows:
1. Chouteau and Newt Graham Lock and Dams
1. Afton Landing- Delayed
2. Bluff Landing- Delayed
3. Tullahassee Loop primitive campground- Delayed
4. Highway 33 Landing and Coal Creek access areas will remain open for boat launching only. Services such as mowing, cleaning, and restroom availability may not be provided if previously available at these ramps.
2. R.S. Kerr Reservoir
1. Applegate Cove- Delayed
2. Short Mountain Cove- Delayed
3. Cowlington Point- Delayed
4. Damsite Day Use Area- Delayed
5. Tamaha Landing, Keota Landing, and Otter Creek access areas will remain open for boat launching only. Services such as mowing, cleaning, and restroom availability may not be provided if previously available at these ramps.
3. Webbers Falls
1. Brewers Bend- Delayed
2. Spaniard Creek- Delayed
3. Spaniard Creek Day Use Area and Highway 10 Landing will be open for boat launching only. Services such as mowing, cleaning, and restroom availability may not be provided if previously available at these ramps.
Applegate Cove, Short Mountain Cove, and Cowlington Point campgrounds at R.S. Kerr are the only recreation areas of these parks that accept reservations. Refunds will be issued by Recreation.gov for all reservations in the month of April.