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DNR Position on Little Ocmulgee State Park's Future
Thursday, 22 January 2009

(Editor's Note:  The following letter from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources addresses the future of the Little Ocmulgee State Pask in McRae.  We earlier reported comments from State Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams of Lyons which stated the park's future is secure "for now," but officials continue to look for ways to economize and various options remain under consideration.)

Dear Editor:
I would like to comment on recent discussions about privatization of Little Ocmulgee State Park's lodge and golf course.  When the Department of Natural Resources was first asked to submit budget reduction recommendations last August, one of the many considerations was a change in operation of parks with lodges and golf courses.  However, budgets are dynamic documents, and Gov. Sonny Perdue’s current recommendations do not include privatization of state park lodges, including Little Ocmulgee State Park. We did include golf course outsourcing at all our parks similar to what your community currently has with Mr. Ray Gentry at Little Ocmuglee. Our relationship with Mr. Gentry is an excellent example of how we can work with the private sector to provide quality customer service with less state funds.
As a native of Fitzgerald and a former resident of Hawkinsville, I have personally visited Little Ocmuglee dozens of times over the years and have enjoyed playing the golf course and staying in the lodge. I think it is a special asset in Middle Georgia, but most importantly, I understand the economic impact the park has locally and want to find ways to bring in more visitors.

While our parks were not created to generate profits, we do have a responsibility to operate the park in the most financially responsible way possible.  We are committed to exploring ways to reduce state subsidies while continuing to provide quality services at affordable prices.  Your legislative delegation has been very pro-active in working with the Department and they have voiced their strong support of the park. I'm asking all communities in Georgia to recognize the economic impact that state parks provide and to increase local support.
How can you help? Here's an example: for several years, the park has battled aquatic weeds in its lake, making it difficult to enjoy boating, skiing, swimming and fishing.  Solving this problem will take significant financial investment and I hope that our regional partners will help us address the issue so we can attract more visitors in the future. 
Little Ocmulgee State Park is a major regional tourist attraction and is a strong contributor to the local economy.  When visitors come to golf or fish, or when businesses hold meetings at the lodge, they leave behind crucial expenditures and tax dollars.  I urge the surrounding community to work with us to ensure the park’s success.
Commissioner-Select Chris Clark
Georgia Department of Natural Resources 404-656-3500


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