Vicksburg, Miss… The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it lacks authority to permit the non-profit, cooperating association Friends of Lake Ouachita to reinvest user fees collected from patrons of the Crystal Springs and Tompkins Bend campgrounds at Lake Ouachita. A recently conducted legal review of USACE’s cooperative joint management program for recreational facilities revealed that these user fees must be deposited into the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Treasury. These fees can no longer be retained by the non-profit, cooperating association and used for operational and maintenance purposes.
In October 2011, the Vicksburg District leased the Crystal Springs campground to Friends of Lake Ouachita under a cooperative agreement for joint management. The agreement authorized Friends of Lake Ouachita to collect user fees and reinvest them in the campgrounds for maintenance and improvements. In October 2012, the agreement was expanded to include the Tompkins Bend campground.
Since 2009, USACE partnered with non-profit organizations to cooperatively manage recreational facilities throughout the nation. This cooperative joint management program is based on a federal law that permits local entities to work in partnership with USACE to construct, operate, and maintain recreational facilities at Corps lakes and reservoirs. It is designed to maximize use of these recreation sites, giving the public better opportunities than USACE alone can provide. The error identified in the legal review relates only to the reinvestment of user fees; the cooperative management concept itself is unaffected.
The Vicksburg District, in cooperation with Friends of Lake Ouachita, is assessing the impacts of the required change on Crystal Springs and Tompkins Bend campgrounds. The agreement is being reviewed to determine if it should be modified or terminated.
Vicksburg District Commander, Colonel John Cross states, "The Vicksburg District highly values our strong relationship with the Friends of Lake Ouachita. The dedicated leaders and volunteers have done so much to help us optimize the amenities and services available at these two Arkansas campgrounds. We hope to maintain this relationship that benefits the local community and visitors to the lake."
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. The Vicksburg District encompasses a 68,000-square-mile area across portions of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana that holds seven major river basins and incorporates approximately 460 miles of mainline levees. The district has 15 recreation sites that host approximately nine million visitors annually.
Release no. 13-103