Number of Iowa Park Rangers Decline As Park Visits Increase

Via Flickr

Thomas Robinson | December 8th, 2020

In an IowaWatch review, Iowa’s parks may be at risk of declining quality as the number of Iowa park rangers and funding decreases.

Iowa’s parks will likely see around 16 million visits in 2020, an above average number of visits for the state.  The heightened number of visits comes as the number of park rangers has declined to 35 rangers from around 55 almost 20 years ago.  The decline in park rangers presents a challenge to maintain the quality of the parks, and, while the review found most parks were doing well, there is potential for future damage.

Unfortunately, the reason for ranger decline is that general funding for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been too low according to Sen. Ken Rozenboom.  In 2018, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission warned that if the general fund contribution was reduced further it may prevent the DNR from carrying out its mission.  Amid budget challenges, the DNR closed their forestry bureau which ended checks for the Big Tree program that now only functions with the help of volunteers.

Coronavirus has emphasized the importance of Iowa’s state parks as places for people to explore and safely get out of their homes.  For these parks to remain in good quality and accessible to those looking to be outside, future funding will be required to support the DNR and park rangers.

Celebrate Earth Day in Iowa!

The Earth is worth celebrating! 

Julia Poska| April 18, 2019

On April 22, people around the world celebrate Earth Day, spending time cleaning, greening and appreciating the life-giving planet we too often take for granted.

Iowa, of course, will join in on the party. Read below about Earth Day events cities in Iowa will host next week, as well as some activities you can do individually to make a difference.

Des Moines: Festivities in the state capital will begin this weekend. On Friday, Des Moines Parks and Recreation will host an Earth Day Trash Bash, where registered teams will pick up trash around the city. Everyone is welcome to join in on the kick-off party and several other events hosted Friday and Saturday as part of the bash, including a Downtown Earth Day Tour through the science center, botanical garden and riverwalk. A number of other events  on Saturday and Monday include wildlife restoration, crafting and stream cleanup.

Cedar Rapids: The city’s 10th annual EcoFest will be on Saturday, April 20. The day’s events include performances, presentations, hands-on activities, tours, awards and more. Last year over 4,000 people attended!

Dubuque: The Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium will participate in a nationwide Party for the Planet event Saturday. Visitors attend presentations, meet animals and do hands-on activities to learn about environmental conservation. Participation in the celebration will be included with general admission and free for children 3 and under.

Davenport: Visit the Freight House Farmer’s Market Saturday morning for speakers, demonstrations, music and activities to learn about problems facing the planet and how you can help fight them. 

Iowa City: You can celebrate for days on end in Iowa City! On Monday, compete in Earth Day Eco Trivia at the East Side Recycling Center. Tuesday, celebrate the 100 Grannies for a Livable Future 7th anniversary. Plant trees at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area Wednesday, and on Friday talk to UI scientists at the Sciences Library. Saturday join Parks and Rec for an Earth Day festival.

University of Iowa student organizations have been hosting Earth Month events for weeks, and still have more to come. Consider visiting the Student Garden Open House Saturday, April 27 for food and DIY Chia Pets with the UI Gardeners and attending an environmental benefit concert the following night with the UI Environmental Coalition.

If you’d like to celebrate on your own or with friends consider these activities:

  • Picking up trash in your neighborhood or at a local park
  • Planting something yummy
  • Starting a home compost pile
  • Going for a nature walk
  • Attempting to make zero-waste for one whole day
  • Cooking a plant-based meal



Sustainability volunteers needed for University of Iowa Dance Marathon

Recycle (Erin’s Rainbow, flickr)

Kasey Dresser | December 22,  2017

Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropy dedicated to supporting oncology patients being treated at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It is a year-round fundraising  organization that culminates with a 24 hour long big event in February.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with recycling, food waste, and more. The event is February 3rd- 4th.

For questions contact David Strabala, DM operations coordinator or Michael Marchione DM volunteer coordinator.

Sign up here: