Corps Recreational Areas "No Picnic" Due to Sequester Cuts
By Yvonne Lewis
The Corps of Engineers is putting the brakes on about a dozen recreational areas and boat ramps in Oklahoma all because of federal budget cuts.The areas affected are the Chouteau and Newt Graham Lock and Dams, Kerr Reservoir and Webbers Falls.Afton Landing is supposed to be a recreational venue but a locked gate will stand in your way. Families hoping to spend time in the outdoors and fishing along the Calla Kerr Navigation System will need to switch to "Plan B.""And we're considered a tourist town and tourist of what? They're shutting it all down," says Robin Rinehart who uses Afton Landing.For the Rinehart's the delayed opening is cutting into family time. The Corps of Engineers has delayed the opening of recreational areas until May first for about a dozen sites in Oklahoma. "We've been waiting for the first pretty weekend which is supposed to be this weekend and can't go. Locked up like this one," says Dale Rinehart, Robin's husband.Aside from being a recreational issue, there is another issue that should not be overlooked."A big safety issue what if somebody runs over the guardrail and crashes into the river how we gonna get to them," says RinehartThe Corps says it will continue to count on its partnerships with law enforcement to help out as budgets remain tight."So how do we close off the campgrounds but keep access to the river and that's what we're trying to work right now," says Col. Mike Teague with the Corps of Engineers.If the delayed openings at the recreation areas don't work, there could be even more changes along the navigational system."As we're prioritizing where to put our funds across all those projects, we put this delay in place, but this could be a season long impact.If you made reservations in April to use these recreational facilities that are closed, you can get a refund.
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