by LaDonna Davis
DALLAS– The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced today that it has performed a legal review of all Cooperative Joint Management (CJM) agreements with non-profit, cooperating associations and determined that USACE is operating outside of its authority and that the agreements will require modification. The long-term impacts of these modifications are still being determined, however; the Corps is currently looking at ways to keep the impacted recreation facilities open through the end of the recreational season.
“The Corps is proud of the recreation services we provide, being the largest provider of federal recreational opportunities in the country, and we take our recreation mission seriously,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Kula, commander, Southwestern Division. “In an effort to continue to serve the public, we have adjusted our daily operations to ensure the parks remain open through the end of the weekend and hopefully we can keep them open until the end of the current recreation season. However, the levels of service could be reduced due to financial constraints.”
SWD currently has agreements with two non-profit, cooperative associations at 29 parks and recreation areas within the Fort Worth and Little Rock Districts. The two partnership agreements are with Our Lands and Waters Foundation and Ozarks Rivers Heritage Foundation.
Under these arrangements, cooperating associations have been collecting and retaining user fees generated from the public’s use of Army Corps of Engineers-constructed recreation facilities and reinvesting the fees to perform operation and maintenance of facilities within these jointly-managed lease areas.
Since all user fees must be deposited into the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury; the fees can no longer be retained by the cooperating association.
Each SWD District office is conducting an assessment to determine the level of impacts, which will likely vary on a case-by-case basis; however, the associations have been asked to take appropriate actions to cease the expenditures of any funds generated by user fees. As a result, all operations and maintenance of CJM recreation facilities is to be taken over by SWD immediately.
“This is a very unfortunate situation and we apologize to our cooperative associations for the difficulty this has caused. We value our relationships with our cooperative partners and recognize that if it weren’t for these agreements, the Corps would not be able to maintain the great levels of service the public has come to expect from our recreation sites,” said Kula. “We will do everything within our capabilities to keep as many parks open through the end of this recreation season, but, unfortunately, there will still be impacts. We are currently working on figuring out a long-term plan to meet the needs of the American public; however, there will be short term changes in the management and operations of the recreation facilities.”
The SWD lakes impacted by this change include: Benbrook, Lavon, Lewisville, and Sam Rayburn in Fort Worth District and Table Rock Lake in Little Rock District.
To find out if a recreation facility at one of the lakes listed above will be impacted, please contact the Fort Worth or Little Rock District offices.
USACE is the nation’s largest federal provider of outdoor recreation, managing more than 420 lake and river projects in 43 states and hosting more than 370 million visits per year. SWD hosts 74 million visitors at the lake projects in five states. With 90 percent of these recreation areas within 50 miles of metropolitan areas they provide a diverse range of outdoor activities close to home and to people of all ages. For more information on SWD recreation sites and opportunities, visit http://www.swd.usace.army.mil/