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Budget Crisis Means Oklahoma State Parks Continue to Suffer

Logan Layden
StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s budget crisis strikes again. And this time, the victim is the state’s third largest industry—tourism.Member station KGOU reportsthat Oklahoma’s state parks are a big moneymaker in the state, and tourism trails only energy and agriculture in filling the state’s coffers. But the number of parks has dwindled after years of budget cuts at the Department of Tourism. And now, more cuts are on the way.

Next on the chopping block: Dripping Springs State Park, near Okmulgee. On April 1st, it will become a city park, and that means upkeep will be Okmulgee’s responsibility, as it was decades ago.

That upset one fisherman, who lamented, “The state takes good care of it — keeps the bathrooms clean, toilet paper and all that. The city never did do a very good job.” Okmulgee City Manager Roger Ballenger says he thinks the state is too quick to cut small, rural parks.