Oklahoma

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Robbers Cave State Park in southeastern Oklahoma is one of the state's most popular parks.

Budget Cuts Mean Fewer State Parks

Background

Oklahoma’s state parks, lodges, golf courses and travel information centers are managed by the Parks Division, which is organized within the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation.

OakleyOriginals / Flickr

Robbers Cave State Park in southeastern Oklahoma is one of the state's post popular parks.

The tourism department has suffered a 22 percent budget cut since 2009, and officials in 2011 announced plans to close or transfer seven state parks, a move that Executive Director Deby Snodgrass said would save taxpayers $700,000 a year.

The parks were sparsely attended, generated little revenue from activity fees, and often duplicated amenities of more popular parks nearby, Snodgrass said.

Cities ended up taking over five of the parks; American Indian tribes assumed management of the other two.

Currently, Oklahoma has 35 official state parks.

Appropriation for State Parks
FISCAL YEAR APPROPRIATION
2011 $11,117,884
2010 $10,222,308
2009 $11,486,806
2008 $12,827,001
2007 $14,541,892
Source: Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation data.

Latest Posts

Four More State Parks at Risk as Budget Cuts and Low Revenue Loom

Four state parks in northeastern Oklahoma could be sold off, leased out or closed due to state budget cuts and low park revenue. Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation hasn’t made a final decision on three of the parks, but is considering selling or leasing Disney/Little Blue Area at Grand Lake, Snowdale Area at Grand [...]

How Hugo Lake Lost Its State Park Status

Fishing near Hugo Lake park, which lost its state park status in June 2013.

The Oklahoma Tourism Commission on June 26 voted to strip Hugo Lake of its state park status, citing low attendance. The commission acted “quietly,” but state Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valliant, responded loudly, The Journal Record’s M. Scott Carter reports: On Aug. 2, Ellis sent a letter to Republican Gov. Mary Fallin asking that the Tourism [...]

The Death of OK’s Lake Texoma State Park and the Promises of Privatization

Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma State Park was one of Oklahoma’s most popular parks when the state in 2005 agreed to sell it to a private development firm. State officials were required to create a new public park of equal value to secure the transfer, and the $14.6 million deal closed in 2008. The company plans to build [...]

Tribes Save Boggy Depot Park After State Spending Cuts

Boggy Depot was among seven sites stripped of their state park status in 2011.

Despite its historical significance, Boggy Depot State Park was on the list of seven state parks scheduled to close as agency budgets were slashed for Fiscal Year 2012. But the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations couldn’t let that happen. Boggy Depot: ex-state park. It’s not easy to find along potholed country roads in rural Atoka County. [...]

Timeline: How Boggy Depot State Park Returned to Its Tribal Roots

Faced with budget cuts, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation in March announced plans to strip seven sites from its roster of state parks, which included Boggy Depot, a park that memorializes a town with significant historic and cultural ties to Oklahoma. Despite losing its state park status, the site will remain open thanks [...]

The Five Least Expensive State Parks in Oklahoma

The Talimena National Scenic Drive (pictured above) starts at Talimena State Park and extends 54 miles into Arkansas.

Cities and American Indian tribes recently assumed control of seven state parks, which state Tourism and Recreation Department officials said would save taxpayers about $700,000 a year. We’ve been digging into the data to see where the costs are when it comes to state parks. Last week, we reported on Oklahoma’s five most expensive state [...]

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