A public advocacy group is investigating the tourism department's motive for removing Hugo Lake's designation as a state park.
Restore Lake Texoma State Park, the public advocacy group that fought for the public release of a contract between the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department and investors in the Pointe Vista Development at Lake Texoma, filed an Open Records Act request seeking information about Hugo Lake State Park.
Stephen Willis, executive director of Restore Lake Texoma State Park, confirmed that he sent the request to state tourism director Deby Snodgrass on Aug. 9, about a month after the Tourism Commission voted to remove the park's designation as a state facility. Willis said he was concerned about possible similarities between Hugo and Texoma.
"It looks like there is a common link between Hugo Lake and Lake Texoma," he said. "State and federal funds have been invested in both facilities. There are seven different contracts and grants from the Land and Water Conservation Act that are involved."
Willis said he asked Snodgrass for a list of federal grants from the National Park Service, including any grants issued under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. Willis also requested all environmental assessments and environmental impact statements for any Hugo Lake recreation or park property under the state's control.
"We're curious to see if there are any federal grants or federal or state tax monies invested in Hugo Lake," he said. "We would like to see what kind of documents they have, such as grant encumbrances."
However, a spokesman for the Commissioners of the Land Office, the state agency that is also involved in the Point Vista Development, said they have not been approached, nor have they approached anyone about private development at Hugo Lake. …