Viney Creek opens May 23

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Missouri State Parks leases recreation area from Corps

In February, the Viney Creek Recreational Area near Golden was tabbed for closure, but Missouri State Parks is stepping in to make sure the campgrounds, picnic areas, playground and boat ramps remain open.

According to Laurie Driver, public affairs specialist with the Army Corps of Engineers in Little Rock, Ark., the Corps is processing a lease with Missouri State Parks, which plans to open the area at noon on May 23.

"We are thrilled," she said. "Our ultimate goal is to have as many recreational activities open to people as possible, and even though budget cuts kept us from opening Viney Creek, we worked very hard to find a partner and keep it open for the locals and the people who visit it year after year."

Steph Deidrick, information specialist for Missouri State Parks, said the day-use area offers picnic sites, a playground and access to the lake free of charge. There is a $4 daily launch fee for boat ramp use.

The campsites will be available through June 30, with campers able to make reservations beginning June 1. Online reservations will begin on July 1 at www.mostateparks.com, or by calling 1-877-ICampMo.

Cherry Warren, Barry County presiding commissioner, said the county had been working with the Corps to lease the park, but he's glad to see Missouri State Parks step in and take the reins.

"I am very pleased," he said. "We had worked with the Corps and I feel the State Parks system will do an excellent job, and I think it will be the best thing for Viney Creek and for Barry County."

Driver said Missouri State Parks was awarded the contract because the Corps has a hierarchy when it comes to leasing parks.

"There's a pecking order on how we have to offer leases," she said. "It goes federal organizations, then state, then county, then non-profit and tribes."

Warren said the county understood how the Corps approaches such leases, and he's not bothered by the State Parks system taking over.

"Down the road, when you use taxpayer dollars for a park like that, after two or three years, there will be some maintenance you have to do," he said. "I think Missouri State Parks have more means than we have to run it, and we said all along if it didn't work out, we would step up and do it."

Viney Creek was set for closure after $500,000 in budget cuts to Table Rock Lake and Dam, and Driver said multiple factors led to the Corps decision to close it.

The lease with Missouri State Parks is a one-year, renewable lease, and at no cost to the state organization.

"Generally speaking, any time we lease something like this it's at no cost, and they just have to take over maintenance," Driver said.

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. In 2013, Viney Creek Recreational Area collected about $30,000 in usage fees.

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