U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District’s Lake O’ the Pines staff reached a milestone with the Friends of Lake O’ the Pines Association August 5, 2021, with the signing of the long-awaited Cooperating Association Agreement.
Getting its start as early as Fall 2018, This agreement between the lake staff and the association sets a precedent as the first of its kind in the district. One main purpose of the association is to assist the Corps in its interpretive, scientific, and conservation programs while ensuring, improving and developing recreational opportunities such as hike and bike trails, and other opportunities to improve environmental and recreational enjoyment of Lake O' the Pines. This agreement gives the association the authority to assist the Corps in its presentation to the public of the natural, cultural, historical and project related features of Lake O' the Pines through programs, exhibits and materials.
“This partnership has been wildly beneficial already,” said Tim Macallister, Fort Worth District Operations Chief. “With the help of this incredible Friends Group, we can provide a better recreation experience to our visitors. Another major benefit I see is the ability to bridge the gap between the Corps and the public. We can double our efforts of getting water safety, sober boating, and responsible recreation messages out to keep our guests safe while they are enjoying everything Lake O’ the Pines has to offer.”
Even before the agreement was finalized, the Friends Group took the initiative of developing a disc golf course at Lakeside Park, which has gained popularity through the Friends group Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/friendsoflotp/. According to their website, https://friendsoflotp.com/, the 18-hole disc golf course is nearing completion. All baskets are installed, and guests are welcome to play the course.
“The Lakeside disc golf course idea was born in one of our initial interest meetings about 2 years ago,” said Becky Rockwell, President of Friends of Lake O’ the Pines. “Lakeside was the perfect area to use because of its day use status and available space. The course has been designed and built primarily with volunteer labor with keeping professional caliber course design in mind. The baskets were purchased by the Corps of Engineers through their America the Beautiful Fund – sourced by America the Beautiful pass sales, which offers their agency designated funds for projects such as this. A huge thank you to David Gilliland and Roger Geiger for many hours of volunteer work and dedication to this project. Many other volunteers and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees were also involved in bringing the course to fruition. The informational markers, kiosks and other finishing touches are not yet in place, but the course is installed and playable.”
When it comes to the development of the agreement, Ricky Maxey, Lake O’ the Pines Park Ranger, took the lead.
“I took a tool kit template that was developed by The Corps Foundation and wrote the first draft to fit our association,” Maxey said. “That first draft was sent to our Friends Group, our Lake Manager and our Operations Project Manager for comments. After another draft and an in-person meeting, it was then sent to Jennifer Linde.”
Jennifer Linde, Natural Resource Specialist with the district’s Operations Division took that draft through Office of Counsel for comments and to iron out all the details. She sent that draft to the Operations Division and District Commander’s office for approval.
“One main benefit of having a cooperating association agreement, is that cooperating associations, which are 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations, can conduct fundraising activities and apply for grants that USACE, as a federal agency, may not be able to apply for and use those funds for projects that benefit the lake recreation and environmental stewardship programs,” Linde said. “These agreements are also a good way to build and maintain positive relationships with local communities. I’m hoping, now that we have one agreement, that we can use this as a template for other lakes to enter into similar agreements with local groups.”
Ricky says even though he wrote the original draft of the agreement, everyone in the process played important roles in development of the document, including the officers of the Friends Group.
“The development of the Cooperating Association Agreement was truly a group effort,” Ricky said. “Our Friends Group is a highly motivated group of individuals, and I see great things coming to Lake O’ the Pines from this effort.”
The Friends Group aims to host activities that benefit the community economically by attracting more destination visitors to the area.
“Friends of Lake O’ the Pines will greatly benefit from the cooperating agreement by gaining the ability to host more activities and events on lake property that involve raising much needed operating funds,” Rockwell said. “We are gaining the ability to operate with a broader scope independently and in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help educate, improve, and even expose the public to the outdoors along with the fun personal and family experiences it can provide. In these interesting times where budget cuts for recreational resources keep getting larger, we feel this is more important than ever.”
To learn more about Friends of Lake O’ the Pines, visit https://friendsoflotp.com/
To learn more about Lake O’ the Pines, visit https://www.swf-wc.usace.army.mil/lakeopines/
Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: www.swf.usace.army.mil and social media at: https://about.me/usacefortworth