Recreation Area Enforcement Angers Business

10-16-06 - The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is cracking down on the rules, but one woman says stricter policies are putting her out of business.

For the last four years, Cheri Wolfe has been taking tourists through the Chickasaw National Recreation Area on horseback.

However, last weekend, a park ranger told her that ride could be the last.

In order to conduct business in a national park, you must have a commercial permit.

However, for Wolfe, that requires a $500,000 dollar liability insurance policy, which she can't afford.

Under the Oklahoma Livestock Activities Liability Act, she would not have to have insurance for the trail ride business, but because she is operating on federal land, federal rules apply.

Wolfe says the park encouraged the trail rides because it brought more visitors and money to the park. Now a policy crackdown is forcing her to fold.

"The fact that 25 percent of sales tax comes from out-of-town residents tells you how much local parks are worth to the local economy. It's the only thing here, the only reason people come to Sulphur is the park, and an awful lot of them are coming to take horse rides in the park," explains Wolfe.

Senator Johnnie Crutchfield told Wolfe he would try to get the Livestock Liability Statute changed to keep the federal government from being held liable.

Park officials say it is up to their attorneys whether that would be allowed.

The Wolfe's earn about $10 to $12,000 dollars on the trail rides every year.