Congressional bill withdrawn to consider Wah-Sha-She State Park operations

An appropriation bill for the Second Osage Nation Congress to take over a former state park's operations in northeastern Osage County has been withdrawn.

Wah-Sha-She State Park was closed earlier this year due to state budget cuts.

The legislative bill, ONCA 11-130, did not receive unanimous support from the Congressional Committee on Government Operations, which reviewed the bill during meetings held once in November and once in December during the 12th Special Session.

On Dec. 7, the committee voted to pass the bill onto Congress with a do-not-pass recommendation.

During the Dec. 8 Special Session, the bill's sponsor motioned to withdraw the bill from further consideration. Questions about the park operations cost and written transfer and lease agreements arose during the committee meetings.

Congressman John Free said during the session: "We're going to reintroduce it later when we have some questions answered."

In March, Oklahoma’s Tourism and Recreation Department announced the closures of seven state parks, which took effect in August. Wah-Sha-She State Park, located west of Copan, was among the facilities with its state funding slashed.

The ON Executive Branch later announced it would study the feasibility of transferring the park operations to the Nation. But the transfer would be contingent on the approval of Congress, which must appropriate tribal funding for the park operations and staffing to maintain it.

Several Congressional members expressed concern whether the Nation is ready to take on the park operations and questioned the expenditures needed to operate the park.