Viney Creek tabbed for closure

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Federal budget cuts force recreational area to shut down

Due to $500,000 in budget cuts to the Table Rock Lake and Dam, the Viney Creek Recreational Area will not be open to visitors this season.

Laurie Driver, public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock, Ark., said Viney Creek was chosen for closure based on a number of factors, including funding, the number of visitors, and the lack of an outside municipality or non-profit to lease the area. Golden, the town nearest to Viney Creek, is unincorporated and has a population of 280, according to the 2010 census.

"Federal funding is declining, and Congress funds the Corps of Engineers on a line item by line item basis," Driver said. "The Table Rock Lake and Dam project office had a $3.1 million budget last year, and has a $2.6 million budget this year, and that does not include employees like park rangers, but is solely for its recreation budget, like gate attendance, supplies and security.

Driver said Viney Creek Recreational Area cost $43,852.69 to operate in 2013, and it recorded 14,304 visitors, making it the least-visited of the 17 parks, including Viney Creek, managed by the Table Rock Lake and Dam project office. The most-visited of those parks is Indian Point near Branson, which recorded 394,760 visitors last year.

The project office is also looking to downsize more, as another of its parks is in the process of being leased for use, freeing it from the project office's funding requirements.

In 2013, Viney Creek Recreational Area collected about $30,000 in usage fees, but Driver said that money is shipped directly to U.S. Treasury coffers, not back to the project office.

"The Forestry Service and National Park Service get to keep a percentage of their user fees, but the Corps of Engineers does not get to keep any of that money," she said. "Viney Creek's closing all comes down to economics. We don't look at just how profitable a park is. We also look at what services are offered and how many people it serves."

Driver said the Corps has offered for a municipality or nonprofit organization to lease the area, but no one has stepped forward. The area does not have a commercial marina, and Driver said the lack of one may have kept outside organizations from getting on board.

"Not having a commercial marina certainly did not help," she said. "If it did have one, it may have helped it get more visitors and help convince a municipality to lease it.

"It looks like most of the park's usage is from people who live in south Missouri and northern Arkansas, and we understand it is important to the folks that use it all the time, but if you don't have the money, you don't have the money."

Driver said the park has been closed for the winter season since last year, and will not open this coming season. The gates will remain closed, and anyone who attempts to use the area would be in violation of federal regulations and face trespassing charges.

Some of the other parks managed by the Table Rock Lake and Dam project office may see different hours this year because of budget cuts. Driver said the parks open at different times between March and May, and some with reduced attendance may open later and close earlier as the Corps of Engineers is working to reduce costs and be more efficient. She said the project office will decide the opening and closing days of each park individually.

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  • My little slice of Heaven.

    I've been in the Missouri National Guard for over 30 years now deploying to Iraq twice and currently in Afghanistan. My wife sent me this news of Viney creek closing and it really made me sad and kind of angry!

    I was born in 1963 and grew up in Missouri. My mother and father started taking me to Viney Creek when I was big enough to walk. I can remember learning how to swim and ski there. Back then it cost nothing to camp or swim you just picked out a spot and that was where you set your tent up. That was some of the best memories I had growing up.

    I got married in 82 and started a family of my own. It wasn't long and I had all three of my boy's there learning how to swim and jumping off the bluffs with all their friends. Taught most of them how to wake board and a lot of tubing took place from there. My sons have told me many times how much fun and good memories they have there.

    They mentioned Golden as being small and unincorporated but I know Viola and Eagle Rock can't if even be much bigger? Also BM camp area that is across from Viney doesn't even have a town so how is this a factor at all? It looks like the intake fell a little short last year but instead of closing the park I'm sure there are many campers that would be willing to pay a little more each night just to keep this wonderful place open. I know I would! Or go back to the way most of us growing up remember and stop spending so much money like four inches asphalt roads to keep it going? After all like my dad always commented "Our Tax Money built the lake" I'm sure our taxes paid for all the new electrical and water sites also.

    But now you're going to close it just as my grandchildren are ready to learn how to swim and hear all grandpas camping stories! And tell me that if I even sat foot on it I will be charged for trespassing. Something about this just don't seem right. Like my grandpa told me there at Viney Creek a long time ago: "Sounds kind of fishy"!!

    God Bless America!

    -- Posted by rustyhuntingun on Wed, Mar 5, 2014, at 8:13 AM
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