116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa state park rangers and staff told late last year they needed to move out of state-owned housing now have until the end of 2023, according to a budget proposal passed by the Iowa Senate and House this week.
Lawmakers in March granted an extension through 2024, but a budget amendment this week reduced the grace period.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources told rangers in November they had a year to move out of houses in 26 state parks, citing as a primary factor the nearly $1 million cost of repairing the houses, some of which were built in the 1930s.
Former rangers and other law enforcement officers have predicted this change will mean longer response times if there is an emergency in one of the 26 parks — some of the state’s largest or most remote parks.
• Beeds Lake
• Bellevue (2 houses)
• Big Creek
• Brushy Creek
• George Wyth
• Green Valley
• Honey Creek
• Lacey Keosauqua (2 houses)
• Lake Keomah
• Lake Manawa
• Lake of Three Fires
• Macbride (2 houses)
• Maquoketa Caves
• Nine Eagles
• Pikes Peak
• Red Haw
• Rock Creek
• Union Grove
• Viking Lake
The Iowa DNR said moving rangers and other staff out of parks won’t affect park safety.
“Staff will continue to work their normal hours and be available for emergency response in the same manner as in parks that do not have staff who live on-site,” spokeswoman Tammie Krausman said in February. “Staff and district supervisors set work hours in shifts that best cover the management of the park, regardless of where the staff reside.”
A handful of staff have already moved out of the houses and some others have bought houses elsewhere, but have not yet moved, Krausman said Thursday.
The DNR hasn’t yet decided what to do with state-owned housing, Krausman said. In February, she said that once staff members are out, the DNR will assess whether the houses should be torn down or improved so they can be turned into offices or cabins available for public rental.
Gov. Kim Reynolds has not yet signed the Agriculture and Natural Resources budget.
The DNR will continue to require staff to live at state-owned fish hatcheries in Manchester, Decorah, Elkader, Muscatine and Moravia, saying they are some of the “few government entities that are responsible for producing a live product,” Krausman said in February.
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