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Legislators in Iowa enact a bill to improve disability accessibility in state parks



Des Moines, Iowa – Governor Kim Reynolds is now considering a bill that would improve accessibility for individuals with disabilities in Iowa’s state parks.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will need to conduct studies and provide suggestions regarding accessibility for individuals with disabilities at state parks and public recreation areas if Governor Reynolds puts the measure into law. Additionally, it mandates that the DNR publish information online and in brochures regarding the opportunities available to those with disabilities at state parks.

Both the Iowa Senate and the Iowa House unanimously approved the bill.

“I know there are others out there who’ve got a little guy that’s in a wheelchair, he’s been in a wheelchair his whole life, he’s going to be in a wheelchair his whole life,” stated state senator Tom Shipley, a Republican from North Dakota. He really enjoys fishing, but there isn’t much of a way for him to get out in the water in the state park. Hopefully, this will start a process that will allow him to do it.

“This is a really wonderful step towards making our state parks and our natural resources not just technically accessible, but places where all Iowans can enjoy our state and the beauty of nature,” stated state senator Liz Bennett, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids.

The DNR is required by this bill to investigate the accessibility issue, but lawmakers aren’t allocating any additional funds to address it. An agency assessment claims that the state is short on $100 million in state park renovations. That study displays insect-caused structure damage, fractured concrete, and decaying fishing piers.

Although she voted in support of the bill on Wednesday, state senator Claire Celsi, a Democrat from West Des Moines, believes the state should spend more money maintaining the parks. If we don’t start investing in them, “that will limit the accessibility of all Iowans to be able to enjoy them eventually,” Celsi stated.

The DNR only requested a total of $7.2 million for park operations and upkeep in its budget request to lawmakers.