Lake Ouachita State Park Recieves 2010-2011 Region I Park of the Year and Outstanding Hospitality Awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               

Contact:        
Greg Butts
(501) 682-7743


State Parks Director to Present Awards to Park Staff on November 9 at 11:30 A.M.
at Lake Ouachita State Park 

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State Parks Division
Department of Parks and Tourism

            Lake Ouachita State Park near Mountain Pine has been selected as the recipient of the 2010-2011 Region I Park of the Year Award and the winner of the Outstanding Hospitality Award by Arkansas State Parks, according to State Parks Director Greg Butts. Lake Ouachita State Park is located twelve miles north of Hot Springs on Ark. 227 and is one of 52 state parks operated by the State Parks Division, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

            The State Parks Division presents awards annually for park excellence within Arkansas’s state parks system. The awards were announced at the annual business meeting of the park superintendents. This year’s meeting was held September 27-29 at DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Bismarck.

The 2010-2011 awards honor the Park of the Year, Region I-IV winners, and awards for outstanding park maintenance, hospitality, volunteer program, resource management, interpretive program, and special event.

            Director Butts noted, “Visitor comments, maintenance and operations, budget management, revenue production, interpretive program development, volunteer program activities, community public relations, resource management and many other factors are considered in selecting the award recipients.”

Lake Ouachita State Park is the Region I winner for the 2010-2011 Region I Park of the Year and the Outstanding Hospitality Award. This region falls within the northwest and west portion of Arkansas. The nine other parks in Region I are Cossatot River State Park-Natural Area near Wickes; Devil’s Den State Park near West Fork; Mount Magazine State Park near Paris; Lake Dardanelle State Park at Russellville; Lake Fort Smith State Park near Mountainburg; Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area near Rogers; Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park in Prairie Grove; Queen Wilhelmina State Park near Mena; and Withrow Springs State Park near Huntsville. 

            Greg Butts said, “Superintendent Lee Howard and the staff at Lake Ouachita State Park bring credit to the State of Arkansas with their dedicated work and accomplishments. These awards recognizes their efforts, the public’s response to those efforts, and focuses on their exemplary work in all areas of park management over the past year.”

            Lake Ouachita is surrounded by the Ouachita National Forest and is the largest lake within Arkansas’s borders. The park features a visitor center; eight fully equipped cabins with kitchens; hiking trails; picnic areas; campgrounds, a swimming area; full service marina with boat rentals, and historic Three Sisters’ Springs.

Lake Ouachita offers outdoor adventures including camping, water skiing, fishing, boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking, nature study, and adventure programs.

Butts noted that Superintendent Howard and his staff achieved numerous milestones in FY11, despite the April 2011 tornado that damaged the park, closing it for 10 days and the Area B campground that remains closed due to the tornado, camping and gift shop sales were flat, but the park experienced double digit growth in cabin, marina, and interpretive revenue growth. And they broke the $1 million annual revenue income mark for the first time in history, ranking 7th for all state parks in FY11.

Teacher workshops, school programs, adventure programs, lake tours, and overall interpretive programming and visitor participation increased dramatically in FY11. The park staff provided a variety of outstanding programs and activities that connect visitors to Lake Ouachita.

            When it comes to hospitality, the park staff’s goal is to give all guests the opportunity to make lifetime memories and to make them feel they are surrounded by friends. The park also won the Outstanding Hospitality award in 2009. Superintendent Lee Howard stresses to the staff the importance of hospitality, satisfying the visitor needs, and fulfilling the park’s mission.

Comment cards are a significant way that visitors share their opinions about the park. One visitor commented: “Hat’s off to the staff at Lake Ouachita State Park. When the storms went through, the staff was professional, fast, caring, kind. Over the next few days of camper clean up, the same goes. Great group of people in the park.” Another visitor said “We have traveled the USA, Canada and Alaska and we have not found any park that can rival you in the choice of activities and reasonableness of prices for the various activities. Your park is also very well maintained. Thank you for your hospitality. We shall return.” 

           Along with Lake Ouachita State Park, other Arkansas State Parks Park of the Year Award winners for FY 2011 were: Overall Park of the Year and Region II Park of the Year—Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View; Region III Park of the Year—Davidsonville Historic State Park near Pocahontas; and Region IV Park of the Year—DeGray Lake Resort State Park near Bismarck. Other award winners were: Outstanding Park Maintenance – Crater of Diamonds State Park at Murfreesboro, Outstanding Volunteer Program—Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area near Rogers; Resource Management—Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources State Park near Smackover; Interpretive Program— Hobbs State Park – Conservation Area near Rogers; and Outstanding Special Event— Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View for “Bushwhackers and Scallywags – Civil War on the Sylamore”.

For further information, contact: Greg Butts, Director, Arkansas State Parks,  One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201 / Phone: (501) 682-7743 / E-mail: greg.butts@arkansas.gov; or Park Superintendent Lee Howard, Lake Ouachita State Park, 5451 Mountain Pine Road, Mountain Pine, Arkansas 71956 / Phone: (501) 767-9366 / E-mail: lee.howard@arkansas.gov .

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