DNR seeks comment about alcohol use at state park beaches

Tuesday, December 15, 2015
FILE PHOTO / Iowa DNR officers have used an increased presence to limit rowdy behavior at Gull Point State Park Beach in the past. The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment about alcohol use at state park beaches in the future.

In the past, Iowa Department of Natural Resource officials have used "special enforcements" to curtail alcohol-fueled behavior in places like Gull Point State Park Beach.

Officers have set up check points to verify IDs. The Dickinson County Sheriff's Office and county attorney's office have worked with state officials to bring charges to court.

"There is a problem when people, shall I say, overindulge," said Frank Rickerl, a supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' Northwest District. "We have some problems with fights, domestic (disturbances) or minors using alcohol."

Gull Point's beach near Highway 86 in Dickinson County has been an issue "throughout the summer," over the past decade.

"But it peaks on the holidays for us," Rickerl said. "At beaches closer to urban centers, it's a day-in-day-out occurrence for them."

The DNR is seeking informal public comment on ways to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents at Iowa's parks and recreation areas.

"In the past several years, we have had a number of concerns voiced to us regarding problems associated with alcohol consumption at multiple state park beaches which threaten the safety of both the public and park personnel," said Todd Coffelt, chief of the Iowa State Parks Bureau.

Comments may be directed to Jessica Manken at 515-725-8488 or Jessica.Manken@dnr.iowa.gov through close of business on Monday, Dec. 21.

"It is the people using the beaches that can give us the best information and ideas going forward in trying to find solutions to address some of the issues we have had related to alcohol over the years," Coffelt said.

The comments will be reviewed by DNR staff to determine the best course of action moving forward. Rickerl notes that some public-access beaches have banned alcohol altogether.

"We're just asking for public comment on it right now," Rickerl said.

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