Army Corps of Engineers: Shutdown of federal government closes 500+ campsites, 38 lakes in Oklahoma

Among those affected by the government shutdown: campers.

Across the state, Oklahoma residents and visitors hoping to escape the frustrations of daily life were abruptly dragged back into reality Tuesday as park rangers went campsite to campsite, telling people they needed to pack up and leave within the next 36 hours.

Five hundred Oklahoma campsites, including 38 different lakes, will close at 8 p.m. Wednesday as a result of the federal funding halt. The campsites were already closed to newcomers following the passing of the shutdown's midnight deadline.

VIEW: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recreation webpage for Tulsa area   (

The campsites are considered non-essential functions for USACE, unlike the dams, hydropower plants, navigational channels and flood gates they operate, and will not be monitored by park rangers as a result.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers understands the impacts these actions will have on the American recreating public if we are required to close our recreation areas," said James R. Hannon, USACE Chief of Operations in Washington, D.C. in a statement. "We know that this is a time of year when many vacationing families are using or planning to use USACE recreation facilities, and we will reopen them for public use and enjoyment as quickly as possible once the government shutdown is lifted."

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Camper Sandy Gable called it "very disappointing." Mila Myers, who says she has camped with her husband near Fort Gibson for more than 50 years, echoed Gable. 

"I just can't see why people can't get along in our government, why they can't solve our problems," she said. "We have so much in this country, so much to give and so much... we're blessed."

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USACE said Tuesday those Army Corps-operated Oklahoma campgrounds will be closed for the remainder of the shutdown.

Those with camping reservations will be eligible for a full refund by calling 1-888-448-1474. Campers forced to leave the sites will also be able to partially recoup their fees.

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