Future uncertain for four now-closed state parks created by lawsuit

2 months 1 week 6 days ago Wednesday, November 08 2017 Nov 8, 2017 Wednesday, November 08, 2017 9:20:00 PM CST November 08, 2017 in News
By: Lauren Magarino, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

BRANSON - There is a business principle that says spending money makes money. 

Missouri made a purchase on that principle ten years ago when it bought land to build four state parks. 

The money spent on more than 9,300 acres came from a $56 million lawsuit. The state, led by then Attorney General Jay Nixon, sued the American Smelting and Refining Company, also known as ASARCO. 

A federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the state. Half of the money had to be used to clean up environmental damages caused by the lead company. The other half had to be spent on building new state parks.  

Four were developed: Jay Nixon State Park, Ozark Mountain State Park, Bryant Creek State Park and Eleven Point State Park. They were all either quickly closed or never even opened.

John Robinson, a former state tourism director, said the parks across the state make a total of a billion dollars a year. 

"Tourism is the marketing arm and we can prove that. For every dollar we put on the air, three dollars comes back to the state coffers in tax revenues," Robinson said.

This brings back that business principle. State representative Lyle Rowland said the state does not have money to spend on the development of the four parks.  

"I don't see just spending a whole lot of money developing them, until we take care of what we already have," Rowland said. 

The Missouri park system has around 91 state parks. 

Governor Eric Greitens closed the state parks one by one between February and August.

The future of the idle parks has now become political. 

"I know there are a few who want to sell the parks to prove a point," Rowland said. 

He speaking of other state representatives, which he does not entirely agree with.  

"I'm not in favor selling them, but I'm not in favor of developing them either," Rowland said. 

Park lovers raised criticism the moment selling the parks was put on the table.

"It's just short sided to say that, to fill a one time budget problem, we're going to sell parcels of beautiful, pristine Ozark land," Robinson said. 

Terry Ganey, a volunteer and lobbyist for the Sierra Club said, "It doesn't seem they have that much of a belief in the value of nature."

Bill Bryan, who was the parks director until Greitens fired him a year ago, said, "It's really a shame that, instead of celebrating the centennial of our state park system, we're talking about getting rid of our newest parks."

Bryan also said if keeping the parks came down to a lawsuit, he would get involved.

"I am a lawyer," he said. 

Ken Midkiff, a member of the Missouri Park's Association and Sierra Club, said the group already wrote a lawsuit, but has not filed it.  

"There's no authority in state law to sell park land," he said. 

Greitens hired Ben Ellis as the new parks director. Ellis started working four months ago.

"We're not going to be driven by lawsuits. We're going to be driven by making solid, educational, knowledge-based decisions," he said. 

One decision Ellis made was to have boots on the ground. Surveyors are identifying boundaries and noting their safety. 

He said the state will host public meetings at all four state parks in December. 

When it boils down to selling or developing, he said, the state of Missouri is looking at all options. 

"It would be false to say we're leaning towards any one of those options," he said.  

Until then, those interested in the future of the four state parks will have to wait.  

Ellis said he hopes to have news by the first of 2018. 

The governor's office declined comment. 

More News

Grid
List
SEDALIA - The Pettis County prosecutor has issued a warrant for the arrest of a man in connection to the... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 12:33:00 PM CST January 20, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Coyote sightings are becoming more frequent in the St. Louis area, and some are strolling down... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 10:37:36 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The number of confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease in Missouri deer is up, but... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 10:26:00 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
RICHMOND, Va. - The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public's help with identifying a serial robber called... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 9:59:00 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
CHARITON COUNTY -- Alonzo Bernard Thorpe of Clark, Missouri was found guilty of eight counts of child molestation and two... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 7:38:00 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In the final moments leading up to Friday's midnight deadline, Senate Republicans and Democrats were unable to... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, January 20 2018 Jan 20, 2018 Saturday, January 20, 2018 5:00:00 AM CST January 20, 2018 in News
(CNN) - The FBI recently opened an inquiry into Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, two US officials told CNN, as he... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 9:19:05 PM CST January 19, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - A visiting MU researcher is working to fight cancer with blueberries - specifically the extract of the fruit.... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 8:06:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Some facilities in the state may be required to hang posters with information about human trafficking by the... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 6:43:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri offered Amazon nearly $2.5 billion in incentives over 10 years in a bid to... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 5:25:09 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Show-Me State Games will be hosting its last MFA Oil - Break Time Shootout on Saturday. It is... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 4:26:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Researchers at the University of Missouri have found that 80 percent of state students who needed treatment for... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 4:09:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Campaign finance reports revealed Governor Eric Greitens' campaign operation has been leasing space in the same complex as... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 4:03:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The annual blood drive for fallen officer Molly Bowden came at a time when collecting blood is vital. ... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 3:56:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA- A federal judge sentenced a man to more than 20 years in prison Friday for exploiting several children under... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:37:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- While the government heads toward a possible partial shut down many government agencies in mid-Missouri will remain open. ... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:23:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Rep. Dean Dohrman, (R-La Monte) has introduced House Bill 1528 to the Missouri Legislature. The bill requires... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 2:21:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS - Governor Greitens' attorney said Friday the rumors about Greitens possibly resigning hold "zero truth". Rumors of... More >>
2 days ago Friday, January 19 2018 Jan 19, 2018 Friday, January 19, 2018 1:21:00 PM CST January 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 56°
3am 54°
4am 53°
5am 51°
6am 49°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:05a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Early Today
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Wall
8:00p
Better Late Than Never
9:00p
The Brave
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Valor
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld