Lack Of Funding Could Force OSRC To Consolidate Into GRDA

Tuesday, April 19th 2016, 10:46 pm
By: News On 6

Lack of state funding is impacting the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, which could be consolidating into the Grand River Dam Authority.

GRDA is offering to write the checks for the services the river commission typically provides, but some see it as a conflict of interest.

Under Senate Bill 1388, The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission would flow into the Grand River Dam Authority.

Tuesday, it failed a vote of the House, but it'll be up for another Wednesday, and stakeholders are passionate about it passing.

"I do not want you to think about this in any way as the end…we're going to bounce back from this better and stronger than ever," said former OSRC Commissioner John L. Larson

Scenic Rivers Commission funding is down to less than $500,000 a year, according to OSRC Chairman Rick Stubblefield, "The funding crunches have simply driven us to the point of extinction."

GRDA CEO Dan Sullivan is confident the bill will pass. As it stands now, GRDA would assume the river commission's current rates and fees to access the river.

While most seem in support of the measure, some are unsure whether the GRDA - an energy supplier - should meddle with the rivers commission, meant to preserve nature.

GRDA does own and operate several dams in the Grand Lake watershed.

Through this merger, GRDA would have to fulfill the Scenic Rivers Act.

Sullivan said, "We don't want to do anything that would hamper the public's access to the water."

The House will reconsider the bill and vote again Wednesday. If it doesn't pass then, the bill could have to wait until next legislative session.