Lake MacBride State Park meets capacity Sunday, closes entrance temporarily

Updated: Jun. 7, 2020 at 4:54 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Area beaches and parks are a busy place as warmer temperatures continue in eastern Iowa. At Lake MacBride State Park in Johnson County, DNR officers had to close down the park for a short time to limit any more vehicles from entering.

“We were looking to be outside in this hot weather and we don’t have a pool and all the pools near us are closed, so we thought we’d head for a beach,” Amy Murphy of Davenport said.

Murphy brought her two to Lake MacBride beach Sunday afternoon after no pools or beaches were open closer to her home. Crowds of people lined the beach, boat rental areas, and parking lots, but despite Covid-19, Murphy said she felt safe.

“It looks like just about everybody is spaced about six feet apart on the beach, so it looks like a good, safe place to swim,” Murphy said.

People enjoy the beach at Lake MacBride State Park in Johnson County on Sunday, June 7th, 2020,.
People enjoy the beach at Lake MacBride State Park in Johnson County on Sunday, June 7th, 2020,.(Aaron Hosman)

Tom Basten, the Southeast District Supervisor for State Parks said Lake MacBride is always a busy place, but this year is different.

“It’s the volume of traffic that we are getting because everybody is coming to the park. This is what is different for this year at this park, all of our parking lots are full, and our boat ramps are full, both north and the south side,” he said.

The park has been so busy, the park’s two full-time officers weren’t enough to handle the crowds.

“We are bringing in extra officers from other parks to get through these days, but unfortunately that leaves other parks in southeast Iowa open without any officer working right now,” Basten said.

Basten said officers are stressing social distancing on the beach, but most people keep to their own groups and they haven’t had any issues. He said their focus remains on park safety.

“We’ve been having to close down the traffic volume coming into the park until we get openings. It got away from us yesterday because they came so early and caught off guard,” he said.

Basten said they want to keep people from parking in undesignated areas.

“If we had to get an ambulance or fire truck in yesterday, it would have been very difficult and that’s what we are trying to control by closing down the park is for safety reasons,” he said.

Basten said if you’re planning a trip to the beach or park, come early and expect crowds.

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