Missouri is creating three new state parks that will encompass more than 8,000 acres of land in southern Missouri, outgoing Gov. Jay Nixon said Friday.
The land was purchased for about $15 million, mostly with money from a settlement with lead mining companies. Some state park funds set aside for land acquisitions also were used for two of the parks.
The largest park will be Oregon County's Eleven Point State Park. The more than 4,000-acre park near Alton will include six miles of river frontage.
Bryant Creek State Park will be in Douglas County near the Ozark County line. The land for the nearly 3,000-acre park has pine and oak forests and bluffs by Bryant Creek.
Ozark Mountain State Park will be northwest of Branson. It will include about 1,000 acres with grassy ridges and hills known as knobs.
Nixon said in a statement that at a time when some states are closing or selling off parks, "we are expanding our system of state parks to offer more opportunities for Missourians to experience the outdoors, at no admission cost."
Rep. Robert Ross, a Republican from Yukon in south-central Missouri, has opposed using lead mining settlement money to build parks, saying state-owned land means less tax money and that the land won't be put to productive economic use. A phone message left with Ross Friday was not immediately returned.