The days of having a park ranger at each state park in Iowa are coming to an end.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that under a new plan by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Iowa's state parks will no longer have park rangers. Rangers at all 69 Iowa state parks will gradually be classified as conservation officers and then assigned to one or more Iowa counties, according to the Gazette. Iowa DNR officials stated that State Park Managers and DNR Technicians will now handle state park operations, allowing the DNR's sworn peace officers to focus on law enforcement.

Advocates for the state parks say that the change will mean a reduced law enforcement presence at state parks, which in the summer get very busy and can involve overconsumption of alcohol, unsafe boating, and other criminal activities, according to the Gazette. 

The DNR says that the realignment process is already underway. The Gazette reports that the changes will all sworn peace officers into a single force housed under the Law Enforcement Bureau. The plan is not designed to save money, and officials state that the changes will not affect park safety.

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DNR officials told the Gazette that anyone experiencing an emergency at a state park should continue to call 911. The dispatcher will then direct the closest law enforcement to respond. The Iowa DNR says this is not a change from the current protocol.

In 2022, the Iowa DNR told rangers that they had to move out of the 26 state-owned houses in state parks, according to the Gazette. 

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