Sunday, March 6, 2011

Save the Runestone!

The following is the greeting on the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation web site:
Tourism is big business for Oklahoma. And it's our job to make it an even bigger, more vital part of our economy. There are three areas of concentration that we're focused on to energize our state's tourism industry:

Enhancing Oklahoma's Image

It's important that we show the country and the world what Oklahomans have always known -- that Oklahoma is a GREAT state, great to live in and great to visit. We must continue building an image that accurately reflects who we are.

Partnering with Oklahoma Tourism Leaders

We must rely on each other to advance tourism in Oklahoma. By joining together, rather than competing, for tourism dollars, both the city and its surrounding towns win. So our role is to continue building partnerships and assisting tourism leaders.

Revitalizing the Oklahoma State Parks System

The state parks system is an integral part of tourism and one of the most significant recreational components for our citizens. State parks will command a significant amount of our attention as we continue to protect and preserve their fragile ecosystems. We look forward to working with you to reach these goals as, together, we strengthen and build Oklahoma tourism.

Hmm. Making tourism bigger and more vital part of our economy? Then why does the department plan to close seven state parks, including the Runestone State Park?

When I first heard the news, it felt like somebody had just kicked me in the privates. It had to be a joke. But it wasn’t.

Oklahoma’s state Tourism and Recreation Department plans to close the Runestone State Park in five months?

The Runestone is a one-of-a-kind attraction. It has been such a big part of my life and that of many others. There is no way to know how many hours I have spent walking the trails, taking pictures and enjoying the natural beauty.

The state park hosts so many events, it is hard to list. But here are a few: the annual Bluegrass Festival, easter egg hunt, reunions, car shows, birthday parties and so much more.

It is a big part of Heavener, too, bringing tourists from near and far. But hey, it is a small town in southeastern Oklahoma and the bureaucrats in Oklahoma City who made this decision probably never even have been to the park, which is clean, friendly and free to visitors.

Plus, you have to be proud of the way the decision was announced. It was sent out by a press release shortly before 5 p.m. on a Friday by director Deby Snodgrass. Well, that is certainly convenient, eh? And it keeps the protests from disturbing a weekend for the head honchos.

By eliminated the seven parks, the state is expected to save $700,000 annually. Well, I’m sure that will save a lot of money. So, each park costs the state approximately $100,000 each?

I wonder how much money the visitors to the seven parks bring in to the state and local communities by visiting the parks? And I might be wrong and intend to find out, but I would hazard a guess that there are state parks that go in the hole by a lot more than $100,000 each year.

Want to bet they are close to Tulsa and Oklahoma City? I would. I also wonder how much we could eliminate by getting rid of the state parks and recreation director?

Sorry, but I could not find that information. However, I did notice that she was appointed to the position by new Gov. Mary Fallin, so all of you who know the governor or contributed to her campaign should give her a call or write and let the governor know this was not a wise decision.

So, what can we do? For starters, call Snograss at (405) 230-8301. You could email her, but she does not have an email address listed. But there is one for her administrative assistant, Cindy Reisman at Lets wear that one out, shall we?

You can also write to: Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, 120 N. Robinson, 6th Floor, Oklahoma City, Ok. 73102.

We have started a Save the Runestone cause on Facebook. The link is HERE.


  1. I for one want to do what I can to save the Runestone.

  2. I live in Houston, Tx. I will do what I can, by calling and sending letters. Oklahoma needs those 7 parks. I can't believe they are trying to close them? That's crazy! When election time rolls around, you folks in Oklahoma need to remember those who support these closings!

  3. Yes it needs to be saved, even if we have to think outside the box to get it done. Our citizens in Eastern Oklahoma are great, we can get it done if it comes down to this.