Leona Park Protest Continues
A local protest at the gate of Leona Park off Highway 36 continued Tuesday night, and organizer Bill Biggs says it will continue until the gates are opened.
Biggs arrived at the entrance to the park Monday around 2 p.m. He spent the night there and plans to do so again.
“I’m going to stay until they unlock that gate,” Biggs said Tuesday evening.
Biggs is not alone. By 6 p.m. Tuesday, over a dozen vehicles full of supporters were parked along the shoulder of Highway 36, and more were stopping.
Citizens joining Biggs share his opinion that the people are being denied access to what is essentially their property.
“People call it a Corps of Engineer Lake, but it’s really not a Corps of Engineer lake,” Biggs said. “The waters of the lake belong to the people; to the State of Texas. The land surrounding the lake belongs to the federal government. The federal government has denied me the right to use my waterway.”
So far, Biggs has only heard from one park ranger on the matter.
“The park ranger came by,” Biggs said. “He was the nicest guy in the world. He said he sympathized with me, but they’ve got an executive order to lock the gates. He told me that people have cut chains or run gates over and actually vandalized inside the park. That’s not what this is about. What this is about is getting people back to work and getting this gate opened by our government.”
The protest has even adopted an acronym: A.M.O.S. Inspired by Bigg’s pet dog, A.M.O.S stands for “Against More Organized Stupidity”.
A.M.O.S. has attracted supporters from near and far. D.R. Welch of Proctor drove over 90 miles to participate.
“We’ve got the same thing going on in Proctor,” he said. “You pay for your tag to go in and fish, and now you can’t even use that.”
Daniele Greenwood of The Grove joined Welch in disapproval of the closures.
“I think it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t cost them any money to have these gates open,” she said. “They’re actually losing money on the gates where you can go in and camp. It costs $30 a night to say there. They’re trying to get the economy built back up but they’re blocking their sources of income.”
Welch and Greenwood said they were made aware of the protest by social media sites and Craigslist.
Biggs maintains that the protest is not partisan in nature.
“I’m not pointing fingers. I’m asking for Mr. President and Congress to get these parks back open.”
“It’s just a small part of a greater problem,” Biggs added.
Leona Park is located near the Highway 36 bridge over Belton Lake just north of Moffat.