Visitors to Iowa’s state parks could face overgrown grass and overflowing trash cans this summer. State parks bureau chief Kevin Szcodronski says cleaning and mowing will be reduced because of budget cuts.
"So, we really need the help of park visitors to understand what we’re going through and understand that we’re trying our best," Szcodronski said. "But, we know it’s not going to be good enough. It’s not going to be up to our standards, but there’s not much we can do."
The state hiring freeze has also affected the state parks workforce. There are eight out of roughly 100 full-time jobs that are being left vacant. "That’s going to be noticeable," Szcodronski said. "We have some parks that may only have one full-time person assigned to them now."
The state parks also hire seasonal help in the summer, but Szcodronski says the hours those employees typically work could be cut in half. Szcodronski says federal stimulus dollars could help the situation. Iowa has applied for funding through the Americorps and Youthcorps programs.
"They’re basically programs that are available at 100-percent federal funding to bring young adults and other people into the parks to help us. We’re going to find out about that in a couple weeks. We applied for lots and lots of those workers," Szcodronski said. "So, if we get that and can find the people to fill those slots, we’re going to be in a lot better shape this summer and next summer."
Szcodronski says the D.N.R. is also working to make facilities at the state parks more energy efficient. Over the past year, nearly $750,000 have been spent to upgrade utilities.