Otter Creek Lake and Park Campgrounds to Open Friday, May 13 at noon

In an update to a decision made during the regular board meeting held on Wednesday, May 4, to keep Otter Creek Park campgrounds closed, the Tama County Board of Conservation reversed course today in an emergency meeting held by Zoom – voting in favor of reopening the campgrounds effective at noon on Friday, May 13.

Board members present during the emergency meeting included Carolyn Adolphs, Allan Atchison, Bryan Wacha, and John Keenan; Nathan Wrage was absent.

All members present voted to reopen the campgrounds. The campgrounds had been closed to the general public last October 1 – along with the entire park – in anticipation of construction on the third phase of the Otter Creek Lake restoration project beginning during the winter months.

Due to several factors beyond the conservation board and staff’s control, the project was put on hold temporarily.

More than 30 members of the public attended the May 4 board meeting, asking for the campground and trails to be reopened on a temporary basis until construction on the lake restoration is restarted.

Immediately following last week’s meeting, Mayne directed his staff to begin working to reopen the winterized campgrounds in anticipation of holding a special meeting to address the issue. After consulting with the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources in the days leading up to today’s emergency meeting, Mayne felt he had all the information necessary to advise his board on a possible reopening.

While the Nature Center and trails were reopened to foot traffic following the meeting last week, general rental of the Nature Center will not be allowed at this time.

There will also be no 14-day camping passes issued due to the uncertainty of when the restoration project may restart. Only day passes will be available.

Mayne told the board during the noon emergency meeting, that signage had been placed throughout the park warning the public to stay away from the drained lake bed as well as the west side of the park which is remaining closed due to an exposed high voltage line.

In his closing remarks, Maybe thanked his conservation staff for working so quickly to get everything back up and running in a remarkably short time period with the department being as short-staffed as it is at this time.

Previous reporting on the May 4 board meeting can be found here: here.