Kansas officials are seeking to take control of recreational areas at reservoirs managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in an effort to reduce overlap of services and expenses.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Gov. Sam Brownback has sent a letter to the Pentagon seeking to end federal management of certain recreational areas at reservoirs where both the state and Corps of Engineers operate. The Corps of Engineers operates 17 reservoirs in Kansas, including Tuttle Creek, Clinton and Perry, though it's unclear how many of those the state would take over.
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Brownback sent the letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, Army assistant secretary and the top Corps official, on Oct. 16 after talks failed to yield progress between the state and regional Corps offices in Tulsa, Okla., and Kansas City, Mo.
"Given the call for efficiencies from Washington and many state capitals, in addition to recent events in Washington, D.C., it would be my suggestion that the COE consider a policy of divesting their recreation efforts in favor of effectively funding the other responsibilities of their mission," his letter said.
Kelly Ryan, of the operations division with the Corps office in Kansas City, said the state "felt like they needed to go a little higher in the chain" to get a response on the Kansas proposal.
"We think our parks are doing an outstanding job," Ryan said.
Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Secretary Robin Jennison said it made little sense to have state and federal governments each spending money for recreational activities, such as fishing, camping and boating.
Jennison said officials with the Corps in Tulsa seemed more receptive to the Kansas proposal, while Kansas City officials were less enthusiastic.
Brownback said shedding the recreational functions would allow the Corps to focus on water resource development, including reducing the risk of flooding, navigation and environmental stewardship.
The Corps has given South Dakota jurisdiction over recreational activities, an action that took congressional approval, Ryan said.