Efficiency and limited resources guide River Pond Area entrance decision
PRATT — The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) multi-year Dam Safety Project at Tuttle Creek Reservoir is nearly complete. This major project significantly impacted Tuttle Creek State Park’s visitors, facilities, and operations, particularly in the River Pond Area. One portion of this project required the closure of the west entrance to the River Pond Area, leaving only the east River Pond entrance available since September 2007.

With the completion of the project approaching, a decision on location and operation of the River Pond Area’s entrances was necessary. Several options were considered, and as part of the process, a public meeting was held in Manhattan on Nov. 16. Public and governmental input has been received in various other forms, as well. All input was considered to determine the impacts of each option. Unfortunately, no single option will satisfy everyone, especially when it comes to serving hundreds of thousands of park visitors annually. Primary considerations included maintaining park services to the public and using limited available resources efficiently.

After weighing the input received and considering all available options, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Secretary Mike Hayden has announced that the River Pond Area of Tuttle Creek State Park will continue to operate as it has since the fall of 2007, using only the east entrance. While this decision may be inconvenient and unpopular with some patrons, continuing current operations is the most efficient use of staff and dwindling resources. Visitation and revenue has actually increased since the west entrance was closed, and it is hoped that this trend will continue.

Access to parks and outdoor recreation is vitally important to families during difficult economic times, and every effort must be made to ensure parks continue to fill that need now and in the future. If the economic situation improves or if agreements with the USACE change, other options, including a West entrance, will be considered. Until then, River Pond Area park users will continue to access the park from the east entrance.