The creation of three state parks announced Friday will bring Missouri’s state park count to 91. Governor Jay Nixon (D) says the parks, which will be located in southern Missouri, will have some of the state’s most distinctive natural landscapes and features on their more than 8,000 acres.
The new parks include:
*Ozark Mountain State Park, with 1,011 acres, features an open, grassy, flower-filled landscape of ridges and hills, known locally as knobs. The property is located in Taney County, northwest of Branson along Highway 465.
*Bryant Creek State Park, with 2,917 acres, consists of thick oak and pine forests and nearly two miles of river hills and bluffs along Bryant Creek. The property is located in Douglas County, near the Ozark County line approximately 22 miles southeast of Ava.
*Eleven Point State Park, with 4,167 acres, includes six miles of direct river frontage on the Eleven Point River, a nationally protected river corridor. The property is located in Oregon County approximately 45 miles east of West Plains, near Alton.
“These new state parks ensure that we can protect and preserve these valuable natural landscapes for generations to come,” says Nixon. “At a time when other states are closing or even selling state parks or charging day use fees, we are expanding our system of state parks to offer more opportunities for Missourians to experience the outdoors, at no admission cost.”
The state park system purchased the Eleven Point State Park for $8 million, Bryant Creek State Park for $4 million and Ozark Mountain State Park for $2.8 million. Money for the purchases came from settlements reached with mining companies that had operated in the state. The purchase of Ozark Mountain State Park and Bryant Creek State Park also included some state park funds designated for land acquisitions.
“These new parks were acquired to fill natural history gaps that were not previously represented in the state park system,” says Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks. “For more than 20 years, the park system has been looking to add properties with these unique natural features for the public to enjoy.”
The new park lands were selected based on goals identified in the 1992 Missouri State Park and Historic Site System Expansion Plan, which was developed following a nearly five-year process of public meetings, research and staff input. In 2004, Missouri State Parks also completed Missing Masterpieces: A Survey about Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites. The survey gathered public input regarding the standards the division uses to evaluate potential new areas for their worthiness to become new Missouri state parks.
Plans for development of the properties and future use are in the preliminary stages. Early development will focus on natural resource stewardship. The park system will hold a series of events to allow members of the public to see the properties and provide feedback on park planning. The first of these events will be guided hikes on the property. They will take place at:
*Ozark Mountain State Park in Taney County from 2-4 p.m. on Jan. 6.
*Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County from 1-4 p.m. on Jan. 7.
*Bryant Creek State Park in Douglas County from noon-2 p.m. on Jan. 8.