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Review may cause Early Closure of Recreational Facilities

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After a look into agreements made with non-profit, cooperating associations, the Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it is operating outside of its authority. This may cause the early closure of recreational facilities such as Moonshine Beach at Table Rock Lake, campsites at Indian Point and more.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After a look into agreements made with non-profit, cooperating associations, the Army Corps of Engineers has announced that it is operating outside of its authority, which may cause the early closure of recreational facilities such as Moonshine Beach at Table Rock Lake, Indian Point and more.

In a press release, the Corps announced a recent internal agency review shows that the Corps does not have authority to allow cooperating associations to retain user fees collected through certain arrangements. These fees have been reinvested by the organizations to perform operations and maintenance at the jointly-managed areas.

Consequently, all fees collected from people using the Corps recreational facilities must be deposited into the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury, instead of being used to fund the continuation of the cooperating association.

The Corps is currently looking at ways to keep impacted recreation facilities open through the end of September, while the long-term impacts of these monetary modifications are being determined.

“The Corps is proud of the recreation services we provide, being the largest provider of federal recreational opportunities in the country, and we take our recreation mission seriously,” says Brig. Gen. Thomas Kula, Southwestern Division commander in the release. “In an effort to continue to serve the public, we have adjusted our daily operations to ensure the parks remain open through the end of the weekend and hopefully we can keep them open until the end of the current recreation season. However, the levels of service could be reduced due to financial constraints.”

The division currently has agreements with two non-profit cooperative associations at 29 parks and recreation areas within the Fort Worth and Little Rock Districts. The two partnership agreement associations are with Our Lands and Water Foundation and Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation.

Since all user fees must be deposited into the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the fees can no longer be retained by the organizations.

“This is a very unfortunate situation and we apologize to our cooperative associations for the difficulty this has caused,” says Kula. “We value our relationships with our cooperative partners and recognize that if it weren’t for these agreements the Corps would not be able to maintain the great levels of service the public has come to expect from our recreation sites. We will do everything within our capabilities to keep as many parks open through the end of this recreation season but unfortunately there will still be impacts. We are currently working on figuring out a long-term plan to meet the needs of the American public; however, there will be short term changes in the management and operations of the recreation facilities.”

The Corps’ decision will affect Table Rock operations at the Moonshine Beach Day Use Area, as well as campgrounds at Indian Point, Cape Fair, Aunts Creek, Baxter, Campbell Point, Mill Creek, and Old Highway 86.

The potential impacts to these areas include reduced availability, and possibly closure, because of a lack of resources to service and maintain the parks and associated facilities.

“We are very concerned about the impact this decision will have on our partner and our recreation customers,” says Little Rock District Commander Col. Courtney Paul. “The foundation plays an integral role in providing recreational opportunities at Table Rock Lake that the public has come to expect.”

Jim Sandberg, Table Rock Project Office operations project manager, said district personnel are still evaluating the long-term impacts and possible solutions, such as re-allocating resources, to keep facilities open in some capacity.

“As we work through this, we will definitely keep the public up to date on specific closures, cancellations, or any changes that impact their use of our recreation sites around the lake,” says Sandberg. “The Table Rock Lake area is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, so we will do our best to keep people informed about this developing situation.”

According to its website, the foundation’s mission is to provide support for recreational facilities and projects determined to enrich the public’s quality of life by providing special events, educational programs, volunteer opportunities, advocacy, technical assistance, stewardship, land and lake access improvements, and research.

“We are working diligently to keep the affected parks and facilities open for the public and to maintain a positive, active relationship with the foundation,” says Paul. “We value our partnership with them and are seeking ways, within the law, to continue our joint recreation efforts in the Table Rock area.”

The district commander said rangers and other personnel are earnestly working to ensure the public is not impacted this season.

“We are doing whatever it takes to support our visitors through the end of September,” says Paul. “These customers are a top priority for us and rangers from Bull Shoals are teaming up with Table Rock rangers to make this happen. It will take dedication, hard work, and long hours. That’s part of our mission and we will get it done. Concurrently, we are aggressively pursuing solutions for next year.”

For information about other recreational opportunities in the Table Rock Lake area, the Corps encourages people to call the Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce at (417) 334-4084, or go online to www.bransonchamber.com then click on “Visitor Information” at the top of the webpage.

The Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce is also a source for recreation information and people can call them at (417) 739-2564, or go online to www.visittablerocklake.org.

Visitors can also call the Hollister Chamber of Commerce at (417) 334-3050. Their web address is www.hollisterchamber.net.

Other recreation sites in the area include:
  • Table Rock State Park, (417) 334-4704;
  • Roaring River State Park, (417) 847-2539;
  • City of Branson Campground, (417) 334-2915;
  • Port of Kimberling Campground, (417) 739-5377.

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