Mississippi River State Park will be the last of 52 state parks to be developed by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism according to MRSP Superintendent John Morrow.

 

Mississippi River State Park will be the last of 52 state parks to be developed by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism according to MRSP Superintendent John Morrow.
Tourism has been the theme of the Helena-West Helena Kiwanis Club meetings during the month of June. Morrow was the guest speaker at last Wednesday’s session.
Morrow gave a brief history of the state’s park system, which he said, “is considered one of the best in the nation.” But primarily Morrow focused on the Mississippi River State Park that will encompass 536 acres in the St. Francis National Forest in Phillips and Lee counties. Some of the area included in Arkansas’s newest state park will be Storm Creek Lake, Bear Creek Lake and the confluence of the St. Francis and Mississippi rivers. New facilities will include boat ramps, camping and picnic facilities.
When completed, Morrow said the park would be “a boon to the local communities and area businesses.”
The history of the Mississippi River State Park project dates back to 1973 with the passage of the Act 859. Over the years Arkansas State Parks studied various sites for a potential park along the Mississippi River. In 1996 Arkansas voters approved a 1/8-cent conservation tax creating Amendment 75  – Arkansas’s conservation amendment. The new tax money made it possible for Arkansas State Parks to proceed with development plans.
On May 20, 1999, the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission selected the St. Francis National Forest as the site for the park. The environmental assessment period opened with public meetings in Helena and Marianna in December 1999. The official Special Use Permit/Operation-Maintenance Plan was signed Oct. 26, 2004.
Actual construction of the park began in 2008. Morrow said the development of the MRSP would be phased in over several years.
“The total development cost is estimated at approximately $23 million dollars over the next 12 years,” said Morrow.
According to Morrow, some work has already begun at Beer Creek Lake but Phase I also includes a visitor information/environmental education center and campground improvements at Storm Creek Lake. The cost of Phase I is expected to top $8 million and should be completed sometime in 2015.
“The Mississippi River State Park will be the last park developed in Arkansas,” commented Morrow. “Once the work is completed here, the state will continue to improve what we already have.”