By CARL SMITH
County officials confirmed the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has vacated its Oktibbeha County Lake Campground facilities after the agency declined to renew its 16th section land lease.
It is unclear at this point who will maintain the campground’s facilities as property control is transitioned back to the Oktibbeha County School District. MDWFP State Lake Coordinator David Berry said the transition will end Monday.
The most recent county lake lease was executed in 1986 and expired last year. The land’s 407 acres earned a $2,500 annual payment.
Officials say MDWFP declined to renew its lease after a recent reappraisal considerably boosted the property’s value. Rent for 16th section leases is set at fair market value, and appraisals and adjustments must be made at least every 10 years, per the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.
County Superintendent of Education James Covington said he met with MDWFP and Secretary of State officials in March to discuss the reappraised value of the 16th section land. Wildlife officials later declined to renew the lease, he said. The land’s approximate reappraised value was unavailable at press time.
Covington said the school board recently began advertising the property for potential lessees. He could not comment on any early interest in the property.
County Administrator Don Posey said the board of supervisors has not had any formal communications with MDWFP over the matter. A meeting is scheduled today, he said, in Jackson with state 16th section land officials.
The Oktibbeha County Lake Campground area features the Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck Multi-Purpose Building, a MDWFP permit office, tent camping sites, boat ramps, and picnic areas.