The Iowa Department of Natural Resources begins a series of public meetings Thursday to talk about overhauling of a set of rules that could become controversial. It’s been 20 years the rules covering private and commercial boat docks in the state were written. D-N-R Law Enforcement Bureau chief Lowell Joslin says it’s time to take a look at how the docks impact those who live on the water and those who use if for recreation. He says they’re having the meetings in the areas where there tend to be a lot of docks to help formulate what the rules might look like, or should look like before they go ahead with what’s called the “notice for intended action.” Joslin says that’s a change from the normal process in which the intended action is usually published, and then hearings are held. While Iowa’s a landlocked state, Joslin says the number of boat docks has changed a lot since he came aboard the D-N-R 25 years ago. He says 20 years ago a person may’ve had one straight out dock with an “L” or “T” on it and one runabout boat. He says now people have one or two pleasure boats, and they also have two or three personal watercraft and maybe a sailboat. He says he thinks there’s more money being spent on recreational equipment, especially boats. Joslin says development along the lakes has driven the increase in boat docks and the fight for space. He says Clear Lake for instance is fairly shallow and there are some docks that’re as long as 200 feet, and he says that can create some problems for people who’re boating. Joslin says there are also issues for fishermen who find the docks create some of the best habitat for their quarry. Joslin says the six public hearings are attempt to give everyone a chance for input — and he knows there’s the potential for problems among the competing interests. He says he doesn’t expect the meetings to be real easygoing. He says the potential is there for some real “hot button” issues. The first hearing is Thursday September 30th at the Gull Point State Park lodge in Milford. The rest of the hearings will follow each or the next five Thursdays at Clear Lake, Backbone State Park, Davenport, Sioux City and Johnston.
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