October 19, 2014

Proposed changes would limit dog-friendly cabins at state parks

Cabin at Pine Lake State Park, Eldora

Dogs would no longer be allowed in some rental cabins at Iowa state parks under a list of proposed changes compiled by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Currently, there are no restrictions on pets in state park cabins. Sherry Arntzen, with the DNR, says they’ve seen an increase in complaints from renters about dogs and damage to cabins.

One of the proposals would establish a nonrefundable “dog fee” for cabin or yurt renters who bring dogs. “That would be charged for anybody who is renting one of the designated pet cabins,” Arntzen said. “This would help offset the cost of extra cleaning time and materials we would need after a renter with pets vacated the cabin.” The proposed fee would be $25 for a two-night stay or $50 for three or more nights.

Other possible changes would set a limit of two dogs per cabin and require that dogs be put in a crate or kennel when left unattended inside the cabin or yurt. Arntzen said DNR staff would like to hear feedback from both dog owners and those renters who’ve raised concerns. She notes some people have allergies or don’t like the barking by dogs left unattended. “So what we’re trying to do is talk with the public and see what people’s feelings are. We’d like to be able to strike a balance between the two user groups that are either for it or against it,” Arntzen said.

Many states do not allow any pets in cabins. Dogs are currently allowed in all cabins or yurts located in 15 Iowa state parks. The proposed changes would designate some of those units as pet-free. “We have some (parks) that would be 25-percent (dog friendly) and some at 100-percent,” Arntzen said. “We want people to look at (the proposed changes) and give us their comments. Based on all of the comments we receive and additional discussion with our management team, we will look at whether or not we’re going to go with what we’re looking at or if we’re going to modify it.”

The DNR has also proposed changes related to rental fees and damage deposits for state park lodge facilities. The deadline to submit comments about the proposals is January 23. A public hearing will also be held at a date yet to be determined. Arntzen said any changes wouldn’t be enacted until sometime in 2013.

LINK to proposed rule changes and information on submitting comments: http://www.iowadnr.gov/Destinations/StateParksRecAreas/ProposedRuleChanges.aspx