More than 2 dozen people attend a DNR forum held in Harlan Thursday

Ag/Outdoor, News

October 19th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources held its 12th and statewide park public forum in Shelby County Thursday evening. The forum was held inside the First Baptist Church in Harlan from 6:30 to 8:30pm. A crowd of over 30 people filled the community room inside the church. The event began with a short introduction by Bob Sherbomb, Regional Director of Parks followed by a video on all state parks in Iowa. The audience was then broken down into smaller groups to go over issues they face with state parks.

Kevin Szcodronski, Bureau Chief of State Parks for the Iowa DNR says the forum was to ask the public their top priorities. He said “Tonight we heard loud and clear the lake is important, fishing and a well kept up park.” Szcodronski says overall the public is not asking for big things. “If I had to summarize all 12 meetings it would be, Iowans are pretty traditional users of state parks. They want access. They want them well kept, open, trails to be good and more electricity.”

Other suggestions for Prairie Rose included a year round lodge or community center to hold family reunions or weddings along with a better office for the staff. Szcodronski says now that all the forums are complete, the DNR will compile the information and look for trends. “Then we are going to compare information from the small groups with information from our telephone surveys with general people of Iowa and compare answers. We want to see if there needs are different with current visitors. We will look at that very close and see what we can do in the future.”

All the information will guide the DNR to the 100th year celebration in 2020 to make all the State Parks in good shape when the spotlight shines on them. Szcodronski says the DNR will be releasing information about the public meetings on their website,  “Probably sometime in later November or early December, we will put some things on the website, some overall summaries and what we have heard from each park. It’s going to take us a while. It will be about a month, month and a half. We will post it on our website and keep track of it on there.” The public forum on Thursday finished with a short question and answer session with Szcodronski.

(Joel McCall/KNOD)