It’s midsummer and Iowans are taking full advantage of their local, county and state parks, with some facilities reporting much heavier use than usual for July.

Brian Lammers, director of the Hamilton County Conservation Department in Webster City, says the pandemic has forced people to rethink how they take vacations and many are turning to the great outdoors. “There’s been a large number of new campers,” Lammers says. “Camping sales have been up across the state and that definitely shows inside of our campgrounds. We’ve seen a lot of new campers come in and people asking for assistance because they’ve never camped before.”

A recreational vehicle dealership in Webster City reports its best-ever sales of RVs over the past few months. Lammers says it’s encouraging to see so many people enjoying the fresh air and beautiful landscapes our parks systems provide.
“We’re also seeing a large increase in our beach areas, swimming at our local lakes,” Lammers says. “A large number of people are turning out and using our bike trails and picnic areas.”

With the upturn in people using our parks, Lammers says there’s always a bit more work involved. “The only downside of things that we’re really seeing is the amount of trash that’s being produced. That stuff’s been hard to keep up with,” Lammers says. “We’ve had to add extra dumpsters in our campgrounds.”

Campers are urged to police their campgrounds before they depart and if garbage cans or dumpsters aren’t handy, to take the trash with them to throw away at home.

(Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City contributed to this report.)