A news release issued Tuesday stated the DNR was seeking public input on a proposal to ban alcohol at the beaches, but the agency issued a clarification hours later. DNR spokesperson Kevin Baskins says the all-out “booze ban” is just one option.
“What we’re really hoping is that the collected wisdom of the public, those who use those state park beaches, can give us some alternatives to consider to reduce the number of incidents we’re having at state park beaches,” Baskins said.
In June of this year, the DNR changed the hours at Lake Macbride State Park beach in Johnson County — closing the beach at 6:00 p.m. rather than 10:30 p.m. — in an effort to curb a number of alcohol-fueled fights. In recent years, alcohol has also been cited for problems such as public nudity and fighting at the Iowa Great Lakes.
“When we have had overconsumption, we’ve had some relatively large, unruly crowds. And at any given time, we may have only one park officer available and it can be a potentially unsafe situation for both the public and park personnel,” Baskins said. Many Iowans opposed to the potential booze ban are posting angry comments on social media, but Baskins says people who support the ban are equally emotional.
“If you’ve got a young family and you’re going out on a beach where the crowd can become unruly…it can be a potentially unsafe or unpleasant experience for them…so, we’ve got the other side asking ‘why don’t you ban alcohol at these beaches, so they’re safe for everybody?'”
Iowans who would like to give their opinion on the matter should direct their comments to the DNR’s Jessica Manken at 515-725-8488 or email: Jessica.Manken@dnr.iowa.gov. Those public comments will be accepted through next Monday (December 21).
It’s unclear when the DNR might issue any new rules dealing with alcohol use at the beaches.