, Muskogee, OK

December 18, 2013

Effort to keep sites open needed

— Exploring alternatives to closing recreation areas along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System is an important step in addressing changes that could hurt our area.

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to schedule a mid-January meeting to announce potential lease opportunities for sites along the waterway that were closed earlier this year because of budget shortfalls.

That is a great first step.

“Constituents told me how important these areas were to them and that they wanted to see them re-opened,” U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin said in a media release.

That is no surprise. Outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, camping and boating are essential to the quality of life that makes this part of the country special. They are part of who we are.

Taking these sites out of the mix of recreation opportunities hurts our quality of life. It also hurts tourism.

National budget issues aren’t going away any time soon. As a nation we have hard decisions to make. Those decisions could eliminate things many of us use and care about.

But there may be other options. Seeing the Army Corps of Engineers seeking one is encouraging. The example is one that should be followed as we face ongoing cuts.

“The reality of our country’s fiscal situation will not be going away any time soon. The Corps has made a good decision with this initiative,” Mullin said in his release.

We couldn’t agree more.