Park rangers’ union asks governor, legislature to referee DNR dispute
DES MOINES — The union that represents park rangers is calling on the governor and the legislature to overrule the eviction notices sent to state employees who live in state-owned homes inside 23 state parks.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials say it’s too expensive to do repairs and maintenance on the housing where park rangers and some other park staff have been living, so the employees have been told they must move out by November 30.
The Iowa State Police Officers Council is the union that represents park rangers and, according to the union, the DNR has ended negotiations over the evictions. The union’s president says it’s ironic that the D-N-R decided there’s a “business need” to maintain state-owned housing for staff who work at the state fisheries, but is on the verge of doing just the opposite for park rangers.
According to a timeline released by the union, on March 3rd of last year the affected staff were told they had to start paying rent or find a document showing the D-N-R required them to live in the home. The union says that’s a violation of the workers’ contracts, because that housing subsidy was part of their pay.
A spokesperson for the agency has said the decision to evict the park rangers is about the future of the state park system and two-thirds of the state parks, forests and preserves do not have staff living on the property. Here’s the list of parks where DNR staff have been told to vacate on-site housing by November 30th: Beeds Lake, Bellevue, Big Creek, Brushy Creek, Dolliver, Geode, George Wyth, Green Valley, Honey Creek, Lacey Keosauqua, Lake Keomah, Lake Manawa, Lake of Three Fires, Ledges, MacBride, Maquoketa Caves, Nine Eagles, Palisades-Kepler, Pikes Peak, Red Haw, Rock Creek, Union Grove, Viking Lake.