June 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Lake Manawa State Park campground has been closed through August due to safety concerns that the levee holding the Missouri River back will not withstand the pressure over the expected eight weeks of flooding.  The park will remain open for day use until there is direct evidence the levee will not hold. Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau says “If the levee were to breech, there would be little time to evacuate the campers so we decided to take the cautious approach and close the campground,” said.  

Szcodronski said the DNR is in the process of notifying campers holding the 125 reservations at Lake Manawa with arrivals between Tuesday and Aug. 31 of its closure and refunding their money.  Lake Manawa has 36 electric and 35 non electric campsites. Lake Manawa is the third state park that will be impacted by the Missouri River.  The DNR has closed Wilson Island, also in Pottawattamie County, and Lewis and Clark State Park in Monona County. Nearby state parks Waubonsie, Viking Lake, Lake Anita, Prairie Rose, Stone and Black Hawk will likely see increases in attendance due to the park closures. 

Szcodronski said “The domino effect will be that other nearby parks will likely absorb campers who would normally be going to one of the closed parks that will in turn make it more difficult to find a campsite for the rest of this summer and likely into 2012.  Campers should also consider one of our fine county parks in the area.” 

Szcodronski said the three popular parks draw about 66,000 campers per year.  Lake Manawa State Park hosts an estimated 1.5 million park visits per year, the highest total in the Iowa state park system.