Warming temperatures and other signs of spring have state park staff busy preparing for the start of the 2017 camping season. On Saturday, May 6, state park campgrounds will celebrate the start of the season with a camping kickoff.
“We look forward to welcoming people to our parks each year,” says Todd Coffelt, chief of state parks for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, “and this year we want to kick things off with a little season opener.”
Nearly all state parks with campgrounds will offer special programs or activities May 6, including fishing clinics, fun runs, volunteer projects, special hikes and demonstrations. A list of parks and their programs is available at www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Camping/Camping-Kickoff.
Campers will also receive the May/June issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine for free.
Those wanting to join the Camping Kickoff celebration are encouraged to make a reservation now. Iowa has more than 4,700 state park campsites and between 50 and 75 percent of them can be reserved in advance. This year, more than 300 existing campsites were added to the reservations system, making planning vacations a little easier.
Green Valley State Park will be hosting the Camping Kickoff event, planting pollinators, at 10 a.m. Saturday, meeting at the parking lot east of the dam. Volunteers will be able to come out and help the park staff create new pollinator gardens along the paved trail. Volunteers will learn about the importance of prairies and pollinators as they hand broadcast seed alongside park staff. Volunteers should bring shoes they can wear off the trail, light gloves, sunglasses and sunscreen if needed and some water. There will be a short walk along the trail to the site of the pollinator garden.
The pollinator gardens will one day attract a number of diverse pollinators including butterflies, bees and hummingbirds with a variety of colorful native species that will bloom all season long.
“In a couple of years, when the prairie is fully established and is in full bloom, the trail users will get a glimpse of the beauty of Iowa’s prairies. The variety of colors and flowers are going to attract people as well as pollinators,” said Daniel Stull, Green Valley State Park technician.
Many other state parks will be planting pollinator gardens over the next few years as the parks are gearing up for the Parks 2020 celebration. The Parks 2020 celebration will be the 100th year anniversary of the establishment of state parks in Iowa.
In the event of bad weather, the Camping Kickoff will be postponed to Saturday, May 13. For more information about Green Valley State Park’s Camping Kickoff event, call the park office at 641-782-5131 or email Green_Valley@dnr.iowa.gov.