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Campers in Iowa state parks will pay more in fees this year

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Campers looking to overnight in Iowa’s state parks this year will pay more to do so.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is raising camping fees at the state’s parks for the first time in more than 20 years. The move comes after the state Legislature passed a measure in 2018 allowing the department to set its own fees.

Under the agency’s new four-tier pricing structure, out-of-the-way parks that get fewer visitors won’t see a rate increase. But larger parks that draw more visitors see nightly fee increases from 25% to 55%, which will mean an increase of about $3 to $7 per night, depending on amenities.

The extra money raised by the increases will go toward renovations of state parks, upkeep, staffing and promotions of lesser-visited parks.

The fee increases follow the state park system’s windfall from last year, when COVID-19 led many to look for nearby outdoor vacations. The Iowa DNR brought in nearly $2.3 million in camping fees between July 1 through October 30, 2020 – a 33% increase over the same period in 2019.

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