“They’d be affected bad,” Business owners dependent on Oklahoma state parks worry about possible closures due to budget cuts

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CUSTER COUNTY, Okla. – For nearly 20 years, Eric Puyear’s been in business along Highway 44, just south of Foss State Park.

“Oh, it’s great,” Puyear said. “You get to talk with everybody. So, everybody’s different.”

He said Foss Lake is a huge draw for locals and tourists, and his shop sells basically everything you could need.

“We get a lot of people out of Texas, Kansas, Colorado,” he said.

It’s a simple life, and he’s living the dream.

But, that dream could soon come to an end.

“My business depends on the lake,” Puyear said. “So, 90 percent of my business comes from the lake.”

According to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Foss Lake is one of 16 state parks that could close due to budget cuts.

The move could also cost 80 full-time employees their jobs.

It would be a hit to the tourism industry and a tough blow to Puyear, who said he would possibly have to close.

Even though nothing is for certain yet, Puyear said many of the businesses in the area depend on valuable dollars from people visiting the lake.

He wants those at the state capitol to open their eyes.

“They need to look at the bigger picture,” Puyear said. “How many businesses are going to be affected? Clinton, Elk City, they’re affected by this lake here. They’d be affected bad.”

The state parks facing potential closure include:

  • Talimena
  • Great Plains State Park
  • Cherokee Landing State Park
  • Natural Falls State Park
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park
  • Great Salt Plains State Park
  • Lake Eufaula State Park
  • Lake Wister State Park
  • Alabaster Caverns State Park
  • McGee Creek State Park
  • Foss Lake State Park
  • Osage Hills State Park
  • Greenleaf State Park
  • Lake Texoma State Park
  • Grand Lake State Park
  • Grand Cherokee Golf Course
  • Boiling Springs State Park

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