The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is exploring change in the way Iowans camp. It’s common place to call and make a reservation when you’re staying in a hotel, but getting a spot to sleep under the stars in one of the state’s campgrounds has always been on a first-come, first-served basis. That could change as the D-N-R is studying the possibility of creating a campground reservation system for state parks, recreation areas and forests. The D-N-R’s Sherry Arntzen says it’s been one of the top requests from campers.She says they’ve had a lot of calls from people, in the state and out, who’d liked to be able to plan ahead and reserve a camping spot. Arntzen says they’re looking at all the options from using reservations — to keeping the current system in some places. She says they’ve been talking with surrounding states to see how they run their campgrounds. She says there’s been a lot of advances in technology they’re studying for a reservation system, and they’re talking with the D-N-R staff to see how a system would work. Arntzen says they also will survey campers to be sure they have everyone’s input.She says they have a strong, loyal user base and some like it the way it is. She says they also know there’s others who would utilize the campgrounds more with a reservation system. She says they want to get as much information as they can to come up with the best system. Arntzen says they also want to be cost conscious when making a decision. Whatever they decide — Arntzen says they would make any changes to the system until the 2006 camping season. Arntzen says when you take the number of people who camped by the number of days they camped — there were nearly 667-thousand “guest stays” in state campgrounds in 2003.
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