Sequester Cut Dampening Oklahoma's Tourism
Trying to absorb "sequestration" budget cuts, the Army Corps of Engineers postponed opening several recreational areas along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System in Oklahoma, which includes Kerr and Webbers Falls.
With the campgrounds locked, some boaters are having trouble finding access to the water.
"Traffic on the lake is way, way down," said Jeff Voyles, owner of the Applegate Cove Marina. "And that's a real problem."
If boaters can't reach the water, they don't need to visit local bait shops.
And if they can't spend all morning at the lake, they don't stop for lunch at the local restaurants.
And they don't buy gas from the local convenient stores.
"Everybody's affected," Voyles said. "It's hurting all of us."
Hoping to spark more traffic to the lake, 100 miles southeast of Tulsa, Voyles is letting the public have access to the water through his privately owned marina.
"People hear that the campground is closed, and they think the marina is closed, too," he said. "People need to understand that the lake is open for business."
The corps hasn't decided when, or even if, the recreation areas will open this year, officials said.
With a limited budget, priority has to be given to maintenance needs along the navigation channel.
The corps also can't afford to hire temporary park rangers to operate the campgrounds, officials said.
"I have a lot of regulars that I see every year, but I haven't seen them yet," said Dave Sullivan, owner of Dave's Bait and Tackle in Gore. "They're going somewhere to fish this year."
Recreation area statuses
Several recreation areas remain closed due to "sequestration" budget cuts, including:
Chouteau and Newt Graham Lock and Dams:
- Afton Landing
- The Highway 33 Landing, Tullahassee Loop and Coal Creek access areas will remain open for boat launching only.
- Applegate Cove
- Short Mountain Cove
- Cowlington Point
- Damsite Day Use Area
- The Tamaha Landing, Keota Landing and Otter Creek access areas will remain open for boat launching only.
- Brewers Bend.
- Spaniard Creek.
- The Spaniard Creek Day Use Area and Highway 10 Landing will be open for boat launching only.