Letter to the Editor

Save Marble Beach

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Marble Beach State Park on the west side of Big Spirit Lake is a gem that is beloved for its natural beauty and frequented by many year-round and summer visitors, including campers, walkers, dog walkers and anglers. The rolling campground of 224 campsites (100 electric and 124 primitive) is well-shaded and has paved roads, a boat ramp, restrooms and showers and a dump station. The moment you realize you're a "tree hugger" is when you see 166 trees in your favorite area marked with paint so they can be cut down to "revamp" a campground.

And it's not just me. Other Marble Beach frequenters are horrified too. Yes, the doomed trees COULD get a disease or insects SOMEDAY, but trees can take many years to die, and they take decades to grow. The oaks that flank the shoreline of Big Spirit are at risk of dying from "leaf tatters," which is caused by herbicide drift and weakens trees so they're more vulnerable to drought and insects, which would further decimate the future shade appeal of Marble Beach. The tree cutting part of the $2 million project is scheduled to begin "after the first of the year" because "they have to come out before the brown bats return," so those trees are also HABITAT. Natural areas with public access to the Iowa Great Lakes are shrinking.

Why is this being done and what's the rush? Destroy the aesthetic appeal of Marble Beach so the campground can be filled up with big RVs three weekends out of the year? People use that campground precisely because of the trees and the water. Why is this a surprise to the public? I'd have thought a decision of this magnitude would have deserved some publicity and public comment.

It's our tax dollars and our trees, after all. How long will it take to recover the $2 million spent on a project that may attract LESS overall visitors to a barren stretch of electrical sites. Maybe the money would be better spent keeping open the six state parks that are being closed, or buying farmland that drains into the Big Spirit watershed. It's important that the public has a chance to weigh in before the cutting begins. State of Iowa, SLOW DOWN!!!


For anyone who doesn't want a Marble Beach that WAS well-shaded, these are the decision makers who can help. I have already discussed with Representative John Wills (R) the need to at least delay the project, his phone number is 712-330-9492. Todd Coffelt  (email: todd.coffelt@iowadnr.gov , phone: 515-725-8485) and Governor Kim Reynolds (R)  (phone: 515-281-5211 or https://governor.iowa.gov/constituent-services/register-an-opinion ) are at the top of the food chain and can stop this at any time. It is an election year, and our politicians need to give us a good reason to rehire them.  Let's not take paradise and put up an RV park. Give them a call. 


Joan Olive

Spirit Lake, IA