On March 23, all U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds were closed and dump stations were barricaded until further notice. This policy will remain in effect through May 15, upon which a reassessment will occur. Local campgrounds such as Card Creek, Big Hill and the outlet channel campground near the Elk City Lake dam have been closed indefinitely. For now, Elk City State Park campgrounds are still open but travel is being discouraged. The Army Corps of Engineers is a federally funded operation and current regulations mandate their closure. They still remain open to hikers and fishermen but no one is allowed to stay overnight. 


The only campers left at Army Corps sights are the camp hosts. One such host is Dan Riedle. He and his wife Janette have been hosts of the campground near Elk City Lake dam for several years. He said, "We're just kind of here and we do what we're told. Nothing is very decisive right now. We've never dealt with anything quite like this, so nobody knows what's going on exactly." He continued, "I'm sure it's all just shut down for safety precautions to keep people from being in large groups."


Public Affairs Specialist Stacey Reese of the Tulsa district said, "This has been done in an ongoing effort to contain the virus. It's to reduce the number of people who come into contact with one another. We have a number of camp hosts and grounds workers who are elderly."


At Sunset Point in Elk City State Park a traveling couple, who preferred not to give their names, will be staying a little longer than expected. They came to Independence from Florida and brought with them their toddler and bulldog. The family's head of household is on contract work and has been painting aircraft out at Cessna. They said, "We've been in Kansas for a few months on a contract here. Our family is in Florida and initially we did plan on going back but with everything happening we feel it's safer for us and for our son to stay. With only a few campers coming out here, we're able to allow distance from one another. We were just supposed to be here for work and then travel for another opportunity. That's our lifestyle but with everything shutting down we feel like staying here until everything clears up. That's the best option for us." The family said the work was supposed to last for two more weeks but a lot of pilots are not going in. Because of the current situation, the contract has changed and the family's plan has changed with it. They said, "Until it actually gets safe to be out on the road and around other people, staying here is our best bet."


They mentioned that it's been good for their family to be in this area. They said, "We're from the city and it's a different kind of lifestyle we're being able to experience. Even with all this going on, it hasn't really affected our mindset. We liked it here before all of this and we still like it even after everything has been going on."


For more information, visit the Army Corps of Engineers website at www.usace.army.mil and for Tulsa district information, go to www.swt.usace.army.mil