South Sulphur park not affected by budget cutbacks
Operating hours cut at Doctors Creek, but Hopkins County’s park unchanged
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dec. 18, 2005 - Have you heard the rumor that they're going to shut down the state park at Cooper Lake? Rodney Franklin certainly has, but he says not to believe it.

And he should know — Franklin is the park manager for the South Sulphur Unit at Cooper Lake State Park.

To clarify for those who may be confused, the South Sulphur unit of Cooper Lake is still open and will continue to offer the same camping options as in the past.

The Doctors Creek Unit on the Delta County side of Cooper Lake, however, will have new hours of operation, according to Franklin.

According to Greg Dillon at the Doctors Creek Unit, recent budgetary concerns and staffing cutbacks have led to new operating hours at select state parks, including Doctor's Creek. But no parks at this time have been closed.

"South Sulphur is still open," Franklin said Friday afternoon. "Some people thought it was ... closed. It is not. The equestrian trail is still open, as well. Currently, the South Sulphur unit of Cooper Lake offers the same diversity of camping opportunities as it has in the past. Visitors can enjoy state-of-the-art cabins, cottages, shelters and regular campsites, as well as equestrian camping."

Those planning to visit the South Sulphur Unit may want to make note of two special offers. From December through Feb. 28, special discounted winter rates will be offered on all facilities, including the equestrian trails. Also, on weekends from Jan. 13 through  Feb. 10, campers can enjoy a free night of camping on Saturday night when they pay for Friday night. This offer is valid for tent sites, regular campsites, equestrian campsites and screen shelters. For more information about the discount rates call the park at 903-945-5256.

As for Doctor's Creek, that unit of Cooper Lake State Park will now be open only on weekends for overnight camping, but will continue normal operations at day use areas and the boat ramp. The park office, however, will be closed. Camper registration on the weekends and day use permits will be obtained at the honor box located on the northeast corner of the park office. All camping on weekends will be on a first-come, first-served basis, as no reservations will be taken. Also, the two cottages in the park will be  restricted from public use, according to Dillon.

Tira Boat Ramp will also be affected in the near future by staff cutbacks. Beginning Jan. 16, a $2 fee will be collected in the honor box placed at the ramp. A reduction in maintenance staff and other park services was cited by Dillon as the reason for the new fee.

Dillon did note, however, that boaters will have free lake access at the Johns Creek Boat Ramp.

For more information about park hours, operations and fees at these and other state parks, Billon recommends checking out the web site for the most up-to-date information:

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/cooper_lake/

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