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Missouri’s attorney general appeals court order forcing state to sell part of state park in Oregon County

Published: May. 18, 2021 at 2:38 PM CDT|Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 3:37 PM CDT
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RIVERTON Mo. (KY3) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt appealed a court order forcing the state to sell part of the Eleven Point State Park in Oregon County.

The park is located on 4200 acres near Riverton. The state bought the land in 2016, under Governor Jay Nixon’s administration, using money the state received from a settlement involving lead mining. Due to legal entanglements, the park never opened.

The U.S. Forest Service has easements on about six miles of river frontage. And a judge ruled because this land is protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the state cannot develop it for public use. Circuit court judge Steven Privette ruled the state broke the law when it bought the land using public funds.

Former State Representative Mike Dethrow is a member of a coalition calling itself “Friends of Oregon County.” He supports the judge’s ruling. “

Our coalition supports the rule of law, and the Department of Natural Resources broke the law,” he said. “We think the appellate court will uphold the trial court’s ruling that they have to sell the easement.”

Cindy Bridges, who lives near the park, serves on the board of directors for the Missouri Parks Association, a not-for-profit corporation. She said she hopes even if the state cannot develop the land that lies within the federal easement, she hopes the State still will open the park.

“It would be good for tourism, good for the economy and the Missouri State Parks Association obviously supports keeping the state park,” said Bridges.

Dethrow says he expects an appeals court to take up the issue later this year.

What is not clear is if the state has to sell the 625 acres of river frontage, will it develop the remaining 3500 acres into a state park.

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