Kansas state parks take big financial hit due to flooding ahead of Memorial Day weekend

SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. (KWCH) Memorial Day Weekend is one of the biggest money makers the state parks system relies on each year, but this year, they say they'll be taking a big hit due to recent rains and flooding.

"An already flooded Cheney Lake greeting an incoming storm," says Jennifer Sanders.

Officials with Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism say anywhere from a quarter to half of their revenue for the year comes from visitors coming out to state parks and lakes for Memorial Day weekend. This weekend they'll likely only see a fraction of what they usually expect.

One heavily hit spot is Cheney Lake and its campgrounds. At Cheney Lake, park ranger Mitchell Schwartz says much of the park he protects has become part of the lake it surrounds.

"A majority of all the other utility sites or primitive sites have been shut down either because they are underwater or the roads leading to them are underwater," Schwartz says.

Because of that, workers at Cheney State Park have been busy breaking the bad news to scheduled visitors.

"Typically for Memorial Day, we are sold out months in advance," Schwartz says. "This year is going to be a little different. We've already been on duty. The staff has been making phone calls all week canceling reservations and giving them full refunds."

While much of the park is unusable, Schwartz says the flooding that made it that way is a sight to see.

"We do encourage people to still come out here to the lake for the weekend," he says. "There's still a lot of high water to see, things to see and do out here."

Brian Morel says he's a frequent visitor to Cheney State Park and the water won't keep him from enjoying his weekend at the site.

"I'd rather be doing this than sitting at home after the school year is over," he says.

For information about conditions at individual parks, go to
the State Parks website.