16 state parks could close as part of potential budget cuts

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 04:58:32-04

BRAGGS, Okla. -- Oklahoma's state parks could be in the crosshairs when it comes to balancing out the state's budget shortfall.

Half could be shut down in an effort to reduce cost with the Tourism and Recreation Department.

“We try to make a trip 5-6 times a year,” said Greenleaf camper Julie Lawrence.

For Lawrence and her family, camping is a way of life.

Her kids wouldn't have it any other way.

“For me, I have my own time...kick them out of the camper and we're just everywhere. We go to Rover's Cave, we go to Tenkiller,” she said.

But Greenleaf State Park is a longtime favorite...and it could be a goner despite its popularity.

“I don't know what they can do to keep them floating...did you see it? It's about 3/4s full! And this is March,” she said.

The Department of Tourism and Recreation says they evaluated which parks could close based on who brought in the least amount of revenue.

The list includes:

Great Plains State Park
Cherokee Landing State Park
Natural Falls State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Great Salt Plains State Park
Lake Eufaula State Park
Lake Wister State Park
Alabaster Caverns State Park
McGee Creek State Park
Foss Lake State Park
Osage Hills State Park
Greenleaf State Park
Lake Texoma State Park
Grand Lake State Park
Grand Cherokee Golf Course
Boiling Springs State Park

“Come out and see it before you shut it down. Surely they can find some money somewhere else,” said fisher Jimmy Crawford.

It's possible the parks could be managed by local muncipalities in order to keep them open.

As many as 80 jobs could also be at risk.

No decision has been made yet.

But for many, the sacrifice to get Oklahoma in the black is too much.

“I'm telling you, kids these days...everybody gets an ipad, everybody gets a phone, and there's not too many kids outdoors playing,” said Lawrence. “It's beautiful in here.”