DNR spokesman Kevin Baskins says the camping ban at Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area in northwest Johnson County follows issues that have carried on for a decade. “We saw a lot of off-road driving, a lot of littering,” Baskins said. “People were bringing large campers in and driving off the maintained roadways.”
Only “primitive” camping with tents had been allowed in the wildlife area — where there’s no electricity, running water or restroom facilities. Some of the other problems involved dangerous behavior, according to Baskins. “Including a lot of underage alcohol consumption, public intoxication, and people had started large bonfires and left them unattended,” Baskins said.
In addition, the DNR reports people were mowing down the habitat, cutting down trees for firewood and staying for weeks at a time. The camping ban will remain in place for a year or longer. Public meetings will be held over the next year to discuss the camping issue.
“It is not an area that was intended for the kind of camping and the kind of other activities that we were seeing out there,” Baskins said. The Hawkeye Wildlife Management Area, which covers 13,700 acres, is managed by the DNR but it’s owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.