- Associated Press - Sunday, May 15, 2016

SOLON, Iowa (AP) - Iowa officials are considering banning alcohol use at two state beaches because of past problems.

The proposed rule would apply at Lake Macbride near Solon and Pleasant Creek at Palo. Alcohol would be banned at the beaches but would be allowed in the campgrounds.

The rule still needs approval by the Natural Resource Commission and Gov. Terry Branstad, who hasn’t taken a position on it, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1XsHgYr ) Sunday.

Lake Macbride and Pleasant Creek both have a history of alcohol-related problems, and officials decided those sites needed attention first. But Iowa officials are reviewing alcohol policies at all state parks, so additional changes are possible.

Between 2010 and 2015, more than 5,000 incidents and citations were reported at Iowa’s state parks. A total of 1,021 cases involved alcohol.

Five of Iowa’s 72 parks accounted for nearly two-thirds of the alcohol-related incidents. Those were Lake MacBride, Pleasant Creek, Gull Point at Milford, Backbone at Dundee and Lake Manawa near Council Bluffs.

The problems at Lake Macbride have gotten worse since 2004 because the crowds grew after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers banned alcohol from beaches at nearby Coralville Lake.

“It became a concern for our staff,” state parks bureau chief Todd Coffelt told the newspaper. “When we get 400 or 500 people, it’s not safe for our officers or the people there.”

Gwen Prentice used to work as a ranger at Lake Macbride. She said much of her workday was spend monitoring sometimes unruly crowds of more than 200 people at the beach.

“The beach went from family time with kids to a bunch of young people drinking, yelling and screaming obscenities, fighting, and people having sex in the water,” said Prentice, who now works at a different park without a beach.

But efforts to ban alcohol at state parks have failed in the past, and the proposal faces some opposition. Scott Galloway of Grand Mound said the ban seems unnecessary.

“Our politicians spend too much time passing laws,” Galloway said. “All they do is cost the taxpayers money to enforce them. If I want to go to the park with the family, have a barbecue, play some bags and have a few beers, what am I hurting?”


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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