Budget Cuts Put Several Oklahoma State Parks In Jeopardy

Tuesday, March 15th 2011, 4:48 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

SALLISAW, Oklahoma -- There's a lot to love about Brushy Lake State Park.

"My kids love to camp and they love Brushy," Anthony Williams said.

"We like to come fish up here, it's a good little fishing lake," Theron Croisant said.

It's a scenic 90 acre park on Brushy Lake north of Sallisaw.

"I just like coming out here and hanging out, starting a fire, it's not so loud and I think it's just an awesome place," said Chase Richey.

But after the summer camping season begins to wind down in a few months, the tourism and recreation department will close the park.

3/6/2011 Related Story: Budget Cuts Target Oklahoma State Parks

"I sure wish they would rethink it and keep it open," Williams said.

Brushy Lake is one of seven state parks that will close. Ones in Stillwell, Jay, Copan, Heavener, Atoka and Beaver will also close. A five percent state budget cut is to blame.

"I understand the state's problem and the lack of revenues that they have, but boy it would be a big shame, this is a busy place," said Croisant.

Theron Croisant is here to catch fish with his 13-year-old grandson who is on spring break, and capture some memories.

"I really think it's good for young people for the opportunity to get out to a place like this," he said.

Anthony Williams also has a lot of memories at Brushy Lake State Park. One of his sons learned to ride his bike here.

"It's a very positive environment," Williams said.

The state says it can save $700,000 each year by closing the seven state parks.

Efforts are underway to keep the parks open, including Facebook pages and petitions. The state hopes municipal or tribal governments can take over operating the parks.

If a solution isn't reached, they'll close August 15th.

"This is a place they love to come and we hate to see it close," Williams said.

Those seven parks were selected based on size, self-sufficiency, whether there are similar services provided by another nearby park, and if they provide redundant services.

A public meeting on Brushy Lake State Park will be held March 29, 2011, at 6:30 p.m. at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw.