HEBER SPRINGS, AR – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to reduce operations of 29 parks in the Little Rock district
, including Greers Ferry Lake. Locals hope that the cutbacks to the park don’t impact the local economy.
Joe Harper is a Greers Ferry park ranger. He says the lake is a popular tourist destination in the summer for boaters and campers.
"We'll have 3,000 to 5,000 people right here where we're standing on the island swimming, jumping off cliffs, enjoying the day, picnicking barbequing, that kind of thing," says Harper.
While budget cuts mean several campsites around the lake will be shut down, the gates to the park remain open and ready for tourists.
"Greers Ferry Lake is open year round. Even right now we've got camping opportunities as cold as it is. But in the summertime we're open, the swimming and the boating will still be open, we're just having to reduce a few of the campsites,” said Harper.
Downtown Heber Springs relies heavily on tourist dollars attracted by the lake.
"We are dependent on the lake. The lake is our draw here. We feel like the people will still come over to the lake, go on their boat and when they get off the boat, hopefully come into town and spend some money,” says Jim Jackson, Director of Economic Development for Cleburne County. “Our more popular areas are still going to be open and we encourage everyone to come to Cleburne County."
A series of public workshops are scheduled for next month to discuss the budget cuts and inform the public of the changes. Those meetings will be held in Mountain Home, Heber Springs, Russellville, and Ozark.