Up to half the campsites in state parks cannot be reserved in advance today and the Iowa Senate has voted to change that.

“Fewer and fewer campers are willing to pack up the kids and the tents and the sleeping bags and the fishing poles and drive to the campground if there’s a chance there won’t be a site available when they get there,” Senator Tom Shipley, a Republican from Nodaway, said yesterday during senate debate.

The bill would get rid of rules that now require at least a quarter of the campsites in each individual state park be held open, to be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Shipley said as a result, many campsites sit empty when they could have been reserved.

“I think we all realize the camping business as an industry is a lively one in Iowa and a lot of Iowans participate in this and I think this is a good move on the part of the DNR to do this,” Shipley said.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources oversees more than 4,700 campsites in the state parks, reserves and forests. The fee for one of those camping spots ranges from $9 to $16 per night from May 1-September 30.

(DNR photo)