The Cherokee County Conservation Board typically announces park closures in late fall amidst snowy and icy weather forecasts.
All things considered, the weather has been relatively mild this season in Cherokee County. The CCCB rule of thumb is to close remote park roads at the first significant winter weather, or at the start of shotgun deer season, whichever comes first. This year, it appears that the latter will win the race.
The park roads at Ranney Knob and Martin's Access will be closed from approximately Dec. 2 through March 31. In addition, entrance gates at Silver Sioux Recreation Area and Pearse Access will be closed whenever snowy or icy conditions make travel on the park roads unsafe.
Visitors to these parks will have to park at the gate and enter on foot, since no motorized vehicles are permitted on park roads when the gates are closed. ATVs are never permitted in the county parks, by state law.
Hunting is allowed in most Cherokee County Park areas from Sept. 15 through May 20. Hunting and trapping at Red Tail Ridge is permitted during all state and federal game seasons.
Closing the gates in the county parks prevents visitors from becoming stranded due to winter road conditions. The Conservation Board also intends this measure to reduce damage to park roads during freezing and thawing conditions and to promote fair-chase hunting practices, keeping the hunter on foot like his quarry.
Other park visitors, such as our birdwatchers, anglers, cross-country skiers, hikers, and horse riders, should educate themselves about the dates of various hunting and trapping seasons, to help avoid accidents and to avoid interference with legal hunting practices.
These dates are available on the Iowa DNR website, www.iowadnr.gov, or in book format where hunting licenses are sold. Non-hunters should make themselves highly visible with bright clothing while enjoying the outdoors during hunting seasons, and keep pets close. Horse trails at Martin's Access are closed to horses from Oct. 1 through May 31.
ATVs and snowmobiles are prohibited in state and county parks, unless they are part of a marked or designated trail.
For hunters who bag a deer far from the gate, the conservation staff recommends an ordinary plastic toboggan for transporting the animal to a vehicle. Even without snow on the ground, the plastic slides more easily than a deer hide over leaves and gravel.
Handicapped visitors, including hunters, needing assistance to gain access to these parks while the gates are closed should contact the Conservation Board staff at 712-225-6709 to make arrangements.
The Conservation Board recommends that all hunters participate in a Hunter Safety Course prior to going afield, especially on public land. For more information about Cherokee County Conservation Board areas, visit www.cherokeecountyparks.com, or contact the staff at 629 River Road in Cherokee.