For years now, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation (ODTR) has considered closing Snowdale State Park near Salina.
Since I took office three years ago, I successfully pushed back against the closure of the only State Park on Lake Hudson. Unfortunately, flood waters forced its closure this year for months. Then ODTR quietly pulled the plug on the park in August by not renewing its lease with the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), who has ownership of the property.
During our Senate and House joint interim study on the State Parks system on Monday, October 28, Snowdale was glaringly missing from the documents presented to the committees detailing the plans for our state parks, and Tourism’s Executive Director, Jerry Winchester, publicly stated that Snowdale had been returned to GRDA.
For the last couple months, I have tried to find a way to restore the property to the State Parks system, but Jerry Winchester and I have not been able to work this out. I still think he is the right man to be leading his agency, but he’s wrong on this decision which seems to come down to dollars and the ability of Tourism to quietly dump the property on GRDA.
GRDA will not open and manage Snowdale, so a solution is needed.
One such solution is pulling together a public/private partnership where Snowdale can still be a part of the state parks system, though a much-improved part of that system. The park will be available to the public with a variety of quality amenities and services, including camping and lake recreation. We can recreate Snowdale into a better state park on Lake Hudson.
That is what I am fighting for. If you agree with me, I suggest you let your voice be heard by calling Jerry Winchester at 405-815-6552.
–By Senator Micheal Bergstrom