Iowa DNR realignment means no more park rangers


A new alignment plan being executed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will do away with park rangers at state parks.

The Gazette reports Rangers at Iowa’s 69 state parks all will gradually be classified as conservation officers assigned to one or more counties, rather than assigned to a specific state park or parks.

DNR spokeswoman Tammie Krausman told the newspaper in an email that under the new alignment, State Park Managers, Natural Resource Technicians and night security will exclusively handle state park operations, allowing DNR’s sworn peace officers to solely focus on law enforcement tasks.

The Gazette reports that when they asked for a copy of the realignment in a public records request, they were told that it was still in draft stage and not subject to public disclosure under Iowa’s open records law.

Critics say not having a dedicated park ranger at the parks will result in a reduced law enforcement presence, which can be problematic in the busy summer season with instances of intoxication, unsafe boating and criminal activity more prevalent.

The state had 26 houses in parks for rangers to live in, but they were forced to move out two years ago when they determined their upkeep was too costly.

Additionally, it’s estimated that the parks need about $100 million in repairs for fixing their infrastructure and sewage lagoons. Despite that, the DNR director has not asked the Iowa Legislature for additional funding.