Letter to the Editor: No park ranger at Yellow River State Forest

To the Editor:

Yellow River State Forest is our own wonderful, driftless corner of Iowa. A valuable economic resource, with spectacular vistas, great hiking, backpacking and equestrian trails, camping, fishing, birding, mountain biking - whatever you do to escape life and enjoy nature. We have a gem here in Allamakee County that draws visitors from all over the country. They bring much-needed business to our communities.

With all these people and activities, there’s bound to be accidents, mishaps, maybe some not so legal activities. Then there are the spring/summer rainstorms which can cause flash flooding, putting campers along the river in grave danger. Unfortunately, there is no ranger at the forest to attend to these issues.

The short-budgeted DNR, whose director, Kayla Lyons, is appointed by the governor, has determined that this forest has no need for a ranger. This is despite its huge attraction and many people who visit each year. The campsites are full all season, the equestrian camps as well.

Ms. Lyons, unlike past DNR directors, has no education or experience in forestry or wildlife management or biology, nor environmental studies or conservation. Her degree is in agricultural communications and she’s our governor’s past legislative liaison and policy advisor on agriculture and natural resources.

Before that, she was a lobbyist for big ag and Farm Bureau.

If you treasure our forest, think about this when you step into the voting booth. The majority party in our state government seems to care less about standing with its citizens in protecting our rivers, streams and forests, and more about pleasing its big contributors.

Ann Klees