Iowans can help celebrate the centennial of the Iowa state park system by lending a hand at any of 32 state parks this coming weekend.
Saturday is Statewide Volunteer Day and Iowa DNR Forests and Preserves bureau chief Todd Coffelt says each park could use help with a variety of different chores. “Whether you like to be the person who gets rid of invasive species or all the brush that’s in the way, if you want to be the group that picks up trash or painting picnic tables, there’s a little bit of everything,” Coffelt says. “We even have a couple of projects where kayaks are involved.”
Volunteers are asked to register with the park where they’d like to help, and if the weather looks inclement on Saturday, check in for possible changes. “We’re at a time where we want to keep the group sizes down and we want to follow social distance guidelines,” Coffelt says. “We encourage everyone to go to the DNR webpage and look for Volunteer Events. There will be an RSVP and we want to limit the number of people that are there at a time.”
Many helpers will be cleaning up tree debris that was downed in last month’s derecho. The powerful storm on August 10th forced several state parks to shut down temporarily, including Palisades Kepler in Mount Vernon. “Palisades Kepler is still closed — it really sustained the most damage with the wind knocking down trees,” Coffelt says. “It’s just a situation where we can’t provide a safe experience for folks. That’s going to be closed through the rest of this calendar year and that’s a big deal to say that a park is closed.”
The campground area at Lake MacBride State Park in Johnson County is still closed due to storm damage, and it’s hoped Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area in Palo will be able to open soon, perhaps yet this week. Another park that was heavily damaged was Rock Creek State Park in Jasper County which is now fully reopened.