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Proposed Budget Cut May Stall State Lake Projects

(OKLAHOMA CITY) - President Bush's proposed budget would give the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers $12 million less than requested for projects at Oklahoma lakes, including repairs to dams and improvements at recreation areas.

The corps' Tulsa district, which oversees about 30 lakes in Oklahoma and eight in Arkansas, had asked for $82 million.

Corps spokesman Ross Adkins said the funding reduction means some of the larger pending projects won't be done this year, including $3.1 million in repairs to the dam at Canton Lake.

Repair work for the 1948 dam is one of 10 projects with an overall cost of $7 million that will be delayed.

This year's budget for the Corps of Engineers was delayed after Bush fired Assistant Secretary of the Army Mike Parker this month for criticizing the proposed budget cut for the corps.

Nationally Bush's budget gives $4.12 billion to the corps. The corps requested $6 billion.

Adkins said the corps budget for the last several years has stayed the same or increased only slightly.

``Actually, we come out on the negative each year,'' Adkins said. ``We've been stretching our dollars as far as we can.''

Bill Stewart, who owns a convenience store and restaurant near Canton Lake, said the lake's advisory committee is talking to legislators about the funding cuts and asking residents to voice concerns.

``Eventually, the parks aren't going to be used,'' Stewart said. ``That's what we're afraid of. We're tied directly to that recreation part.''

Adkins said projects will also be delayed on Fort Supply Lake and Lake Texoma.

Managers at Tenkiller Lake, Kaw Lake and Lake Eufaula say facilities there are in need of maintenance, too. James Holder at Lake Eufaula said he depended on 15,000 hours of volunteer labor last year.

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