DUBUQUE COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The two men who operate the Mines of Spain and the Bellevue State Park say it's difficult to cover so much acreage with short staff.
The Julien Dubuque Monument in the Mines of Spain on Thursday, December 7, 2017
Jason Gilmore is the Park Ranger for both the Mines of Spain and Bellevue State Park. It's the same story for Andy Roach, who is a Park Manager.
During the winter months, the men say they make things work between the two of them.
There are instances, however, when it's difficult being the only person patrolling 2,500 acres of land.
Roach said when he's at the Mines of Spain, "if something happens down at Bellevue State Park you know potentially getting everything wrapped up here to be able to go down there to handle those issues is the hardest part."
Gilmore says it's time consuming going back and forth.
"We keep very busy. We have 2,500 acres between two parks, so two people, that’s a lot to take care of," he said.
Gilmore adds they've also had to cut back on some maintenance, such as mowing.
While they're making things work during the off-season, they're concerned about operating at the public's expected level when it warms up.
They're especially concerned about keeping the E.B. Lyon's Nature Center operating at normal hours.
There's a position that recently opened up called the Natural Resources Technician.
This person did much of the operations for the nature center.
But the position hasn't been filled.
"If we have big school groups it's tough to do with just two individuals, plus I'm working the night shift, Andy's here by himself during the day, so a lot of times I won't be here when those groups are out," Gilmore explained.
The Iowa DNR is determining when or if this position will ever be filled.
"It's still being worked out as to whether we will replace that position or if there's another area in the state which will need the resources," Alex Murphy, Director of Communicates for the Iowa DNR, said.
Gilmore and Roach say it'd be nice to have some more help.
"Hopefully we get things figured out by the spring," Gilmore said.
There are currently 101 vacancies with the DNR.
They do not plan to fill 80 of those vacancies.