U.S. Army Corps-Controlled Parks Shutting Down

Brady Smith, Anchor/Reporter

CORALVILLE, Iowa - David Adams and Craig Stoll were packing up their campsites at Coralville Lake Tuesday morning. They're both abandoning camping plans a couple weeks early, due to the first federal government shutdown in years.

"Nothing I can do about it," said Adams. He knows it's out of his control.

"Can't stop them. If that's what they want to do, they're going to do it. That's the government's way," Adams said. "Each one wants to show their own power."

Stoll arrived Sunday, and knew his stay would be short-lived.

"When we signed up, we were going to be here for two weeks, and they said well, you might want to just sign up until Monday night," Stoll told us, voicing frustration over the gridlock in Congress. "They failed us again."

Campers here have to be packed up and out of here by 6 p.m. Wednesday night, with the campgrounds completely closing by 8 p.m. Staff with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are already turning back any new campers coming to the park, and wondering how long the shutdown will keep them out of work. Though the recreation areas around Coralville Lake will shut down, Operations Manager Dee Goldman of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said a small handful of essential staff will stay behind to fulfill the Corps' primary mission.

"I've identified four personnel, four of my park rangers, capable of handling the flood control duties and the flood control operations," Goldman explained.

The rest, about 10 other staffers, will leave the park.

"Until they get something resolved in congress, we're just going to be out," Goldman said.

They're calling anyone who had plans to camp here in the near future, offering refunds for their reservations.

Goldman said a couple campgrounds like Sugar Bottom and Sandy Beach were already set to close for the season on October 1st, but areas like the Tailwater Campground, which would have stayed open, will be empty during one of the busiest times of the year.

"That one would be packed during home football games, and some of our other campgrounds would be pretty filled to capacity during those times," Goldman told us.

Goldman said dam access will remain open because many people use the road on top of it as a way to get around the Coralville, North Liberty, Iowa City area. If you had a reservation at a campground and you're wondering if that park is affected by a shutdown, you can call the state reservation hotline at 877-427-2757.
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