NEWS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR ROY BLUNT (MO.)
Missouri Senators Fight To Keep Operations At Table Rock Lake Open: Senators Blunt, McCaskill Co-Sponsor Bill To Alleviate Uncertainty & Protect Residents, Businesses From Government Overreach
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) joined U.S. Senators John Boozman (Ark.) and Mark Pryor (Ark.) to introduce the “Corps of Engineers Cooperative Joint Management Restoration Act.” The bill would reestablish earlier practices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing cooperating partners managing Corps recreational facilities to keep the user fees collected and apply them to site maintenance and operations.
In September 2013, the Corps announced it had conducted a legal review of its policy regarding cooperative joint management agreements with non-profit entities for recreational sites, and had suddenly decided that cooperating nonprofits could no longer collect user fees to fund park maintenance and operations.
According to the non-profit Congressional Budget Office (CBO), this bipartisan bill will help keep many sites open that would otherwise be closed. CBO determined that, over time, this legislation is likely to prevent the closure of facilities that collect up to $2.2 million each year in recreation fees.
“As I’ve told the Corps during our previous meetings and discussions, area residents and businesses deserve a solution and they need it now,” Blunt said. “This bill will help alleviate the continued uncertainty and ensure that Table Rock Lake stays opened for the families and businesses that live, work, and vacation there.”
“This legislation will ensure that the money local families and business spend at Table Rock Lake will stay in the community,” McCaskill said. “I'll continue working with Senator Blunt to make sure the Table Rock Lake provides facilities and services that the entire community can enjoy long into the future.”
The Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation (ORHF) had entered into a cooperative agreement for management of recreation sites at Table Rock Lake in Missouri in May of 2011 and extending until 2016. The operating agreement resulted in the leasing of eight campgrounds and public use areas from the Corps by ORHF.
On September 17, 2013, Blunt met with members of the Corps of Engineers Little Rock District in his office in Washington D.C. to urge the Corps to find an immediate solution for park funding operations and discuss future policy for cooperative joint management agreements with non-profits at Corps recreational sites. On September 2013, Blunt spearheaded a letter to Corps officials, co-signed by McCaskill, demanding that they take no action involving the cooperative agreement with ORHF until the Corps provides an explanation for the situation.
On September 30, 2013, Blunt and several other members sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy asking for information regarding the decision making process and for potential solutions for management of Corps recreational sites. Blunt also joined his colleagues in a letter to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) Conferees on cooperative joint management.
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