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Iowa Department of Natural Resources facts for kids

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Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Iowa DNR logo
Agency overview
Formed 1986
Headquarters 502 East 9th Street,
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0034
Employees 1,170
Agency executive
  • Kayla Lyon, Director

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (Iowa DNR or IA DNR) is a department/agency of the U.S. state of Iowa formed in 1986, charged with maintaining state parks and forests, protecting the environment of Iowa, and managing energy, fish, wildlife, land resources, and water resources of Iowa.


The DNR was created by the 71st General Assembly in 1986 under Terry E. Branstad, member of the Republican Party of Iowa, by combining four previous state agencies: Water, Air, and Waste Management; parts of the Iowa Energy Policy Council; the Iowa Conservation Commission; and the Iowa Geological Survey Organization.


The DNR has 1,170 full-time equivalent employees. It is headed by a governor-appointed director, which as of May 2012 has been Chuck Gipp. The DNR has three service divisions: Conservation and Recreation, Environmental Services and Management Services.

There are two governor-appointed citizen commissions that decide on policies and administrative rules: the Natural Resource Commission that oversees fish, wildlife, parks and forestry issues; and the nine-member Environmental Protection Commission that oversees water, land and air quality issues.

Environmental Protection Commission

The Commission consists of nine commissioners. Of these at least 5 members have been identified in 2014 based on public records, to have a conflict of interest when it comes to stricter environmental protections, particularly the enforcement of the Clean Water Act.

  • Nancy Couser owns feedlots and confinements housing 5,200 cattle.
  • Cindy Greiman, whose husband owns feedlots and confinements housing 3,794 cattle.
  • Brent Rastetter owns two confinements housing 9,200 hogs and is the CEO of Quality Ag Builders Inc., a company that builds confinements and manure pits. He is a major Branstad campaign donor.
  • Max Smith owns a hog gestation factory farm that houses 4,117 hogs.
  • Gene Ver Steeg, former president of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, owns confinements housing 20,000 hogs and had a manure spill at one of his operations in fall 2013. An April 2013 Wall Street Journal article quoted him saying that "Clean Water Act regulations were a waste of money".

Division of Environmental Services

As of 2013 it consisted of five bureaus: Water Quality, Air Quality, Land Quality, Field Services and Compliance, and Iowa Geological and Water Survey. Field Services staff inspect permitted facilities, annually reviewing permits for more than 200 confined animal facilities, approximately 5,500 manure management plans, permitting more than 450 solid waste facilities and writing more than 2,000 air permits.

Forestry Bureau

It provides technical assistance to Iowa tree, forest and prairie owners and businesses with forestry and prairie management planning, cost-share programs and education. The bureau manages more than 40,000 acres (160 km2) of forests for timber, wildlife, watershed protection and recreation. It operates state nurseries in Ames, Iowa and Montrose, Iowa producing 4 million tree and shrub seedlings annually at low cost to the public for erosion control, wildlife habitat and reforestation.

Parks Bureau

The 'Parks Bureau' operates and maintains 84 parks and recreation areas with trails and cabins for camping, picnicking, swimming, boating and fishing. It is responsible for more than 90 state preserves set aside for their natural or cultural significance and supervises programs in recreation planning and resource protection.

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Iowa Department of Natural Resources Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.