Some might say the main attraction at Boiling Springs State Park isn’t the natural springs for which is was named. This may soon change because of a huge improvement project that’s already under way.

The park was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is one of Oklahoma’s first State Parks.

“The spring box area is in poor condition, and has been for awhile,” said C.D. Perkins, Boiling Springs Park manager and ranger. “The side walls are caving in, and it’s about to break loose.”

There are several boiling springs in the park. One, located behind the park office, is the most visible and will be the focus area for the bulk of improvements.

Currently, the boiling spring is contained by cement walls and covered by a wood pavilion.

“The goal is to make it look more natural while maintaining the integrity of the spring and the historic foundation around it,” said Perkins.

A new shelter will be built using logs and stone to cover the viewing area of the boiling spring. The walkway leading to the spring location will be replaced and brought up to ADA requirements. The old pump house will be restored. Improved landscaping, benches and interpretive signs will be added.

People throwing coins into the boiling spring has been an ongoing problem, which is why a separate wishing well will be built specifically for this purpose. In addition, a separate reflecting pond will be built using water from the boiling spring.

Perkins began making requests for the capitol improvement projects about five years ago. “Now that the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department has given us the funds, the project could possibly be done by next summer,” said Perkins.

LandPlan Consultants, Inc. in Tulsa is the design firm for the project. They specialize in landscape architecture.

Many improvements have already been made at the park, including a $75,000 playground project which will introduce five new playgrounds at the park. One playground was finished last week at the Whitetail campground, and four more will be completed shortly after Labor Day. In addition, more parking spaces and sidewalks were added near the playgrounds.

“All five new playgrounds are safe. Soft rubber pieces are being used for ground cover instead of rocks or sand,” said Perkins. “Two of the playgrounds have large boulders for children to climb and play on.”

Perkins said the swimming pool surface has been redone and the bathhouse is going to be remodeled very soon.

A $300,000 allocation has been made for a new bathroom at the Spring Hill campground, where all four cabins already have new tile, furniture and beds.

Plans are being made to make cabins more energy efficient as well. “The bunkhouses at Group Camp 2 need new doors and windows,” said Perkins.

“The renovations we’ve been wanting for years are finally happening, and all at the same time,” said BenNita Smith, accounting technician for the park.

But despite all the extra funds the park has been granted for needed improvements, Perkins said the park is still dealing with financial issues.

“Annual funding was cut this year and more cuts are coming,” he said.

These budget cuts have necessarily prompted certain economies at the park from cutting back on the hiring of seasonal help to the closing of cabins this winter.

Perkins said the cabins will be closed because it’s not cost efficient to keep them open for the few people who rent them during the winter.

But the cabins have certainly been used this summer. Perkins said the cabins have been booked every weekend since May.

He added that the cabin use has helped make up for the fact that “we’ve had a few less campers this year.”

Camping and cabin rates raised this year due to the increased price of electricity and maintenence, but Perkins said the rates are still less than most state park cabins.

Even with the increased rates, for the month of July visitor numbers were up by about 1,000 people over last year. Overall, Boiling Springs averages about 350,000 visitors per year.

“We’re mostly a family oriented park,” said Perkins. “This year we’ve had visitors from Germany, France, Australia, Venezuela, the Netherlands and quite a few from Canada.”

Nature enthusiasts enjoy the beauty of the park and its wildlife. Numerous ammenities at the park include miles of bike and hiking trails, over 150 picnic tables, and a lake with an abundent supply of largemouth bass, channel cat, perch, and bluegill.

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