Letter to the Editor: What is the DNR promoting at Yellow River State Forest?

To the Editor:

You promote what you permit is a piece of management advice that’s been helpful to me. By reducing the Yellow River State Forests (YRSF) park ranger position to 25%, what is the Iowa  DNR trying to promote?

A decline in reputable users of our park and forest system? YRSF is a mecca for tourism, hosting thousands of visitors a year. As word gets out that YRSF is being “passively managed”, families, people legally hunting and fishing, hikers and equestrians are going to be less likely to visit our area. This is money out of your pocket. Tourists visit our shops, get gas, groceries, hunting and fishing licenses, and enjoy local attractions, paying tax money along the way.

Are they promoting a lack of safety for ourselves and the guests of northeast Iowa? As frequent campers and hikers at YRSF for a decade, we’ve already noticed an increase in little things like speeding, loud campers, generators running all night long, dogs running loose, and littering, as well as bigger issues like the illegal small game hunting (and I would guess fishing, but it’s not as obvious to see as hunting) that is beginning to happen.

“Passive management” is clearly not working! It’s just a matter of time before someone is hit by a vehicle that is not respecting the 15 mph speed limit in the campground, or a dog bites a child, an errant bullet hits a camper, or hiker, or spooks a horse on the trail. It’s amazing to see the difference between the days and nights that people see the DNR truck with the park ranger in it, and the times they see it’s not in the area.

Are they promoting a complete lack of respect for our natural resources with their ridiculous decision? On almost every hike I pick up a piece of trash here or there… this has also already gotten worse in the couple of short months the park ranger position has been reduced. I can’t image what it will look like in a year if this decision isn’t changed.

Are they promoting an increase in unsavory people and activity in our beautiful area? As the world is attempting to open back up, why would we decrease the oversight of legal activity in our vast rural forest? What a perfect spot for drug and other criminal activity, that can take years to rectify and remove… for reputations to be re-established. YRSF has fantastic variety of hiking, riding, hunting, fishing and camping, all of which come with some risk on their own, and even more so when in conjunction with each other.

Floods have impacted the area already a few times this year alone. Injuries and emergencies happen fast. Seconds count. Minutes can mean the difference between life and death. What if it was you? Your kids? Your neighbors and friends? This is our community, these are our people… demand better northeast Iowa! Do better Iowa DNR!

Make your voice heard by contacting Senator Klimesh at mike.klimesh@legis.iowa.gov, Rep. Osmundson at Anne.Osmundson@legis.iowa.gov, or visit the Friends of Yellow River Facebook page to sign the petition. Yellow River State Forest needs a full-time park ranger.

Steve and Amy Johnson