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DNR investigates tree and fire vandalism at Big Creek State Park

  • 3/26/2024 11:46:00 AM
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POLK CITY, IA – On March 15 around 10:30 p.m. several local law enforcement agencies were called to Big Creek State Park to extinguish an illegal bonfire at the east boat ramp, which was allegedly set by a party of youths. When officials arrived on scene, the youths dispersed. No arrests have been made.

DNR park staff also discovered two young trees were chopped down for firewood and burned. One tree was a memorial planted by long-time park volunteer Richard Haire in honor of his son, Sean, who died in 2017. 

“State parks are special places in the hearts of many families,” said Chad Kelchen, south-central supervisor in the State Parks, Forests and Preserves Bureau. “When people choose to destroy a piece of the park, they don't understand the deep emotional ties to these areas, even as simple as a single tree.”

Kelchen reminds state park visitors that fires can only be lit in designated fire rings or grills, and that it is illegal to chop living trees for firewood. “We need people to follow these rules so parks stay safe and the natural environment cared for, so everyone can enjoy them.”

The agencies called to the scene of the fire included the Polk City Police Department, Polk City Fire Department and the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. The incident remains under investigation.

Those with information pertaining to the vandalism are asked to contact park staff at, 515-984-6473. Reports can be made anonymously.