State changing rules to allow camping in a hammock

The Iowa Natural Resources Commission is changing its rules to allow the use of hammocks in state parks and camping areas.

State Parks Bureau Chief Todd Coffelt says some people use hammocks to sleep in instead of a tent or RV. “You still need to rent a site – but if there are mature enough trees that can be used to attach your hammock to – then we want to provide that. It’s just that there’s care in doing that, tying it there so the tree doesn’t get hurt,” Coffelt says.

The proposed rules indicate how hammocks are held together with straps and bands. You cannot hammer nails or screw screws into trees to hold your hammock. He says the use of hammocks depends on where you are.

“Not all parks have the right tree height to support someone like me that I would be comfortable sleeping in,” he says. “But it’s different for everyone.” Coffelt says they also want to avoid having too many hammocks in a tree.

“If you can find two trees the right distance apart, you’ll set up a hammock. Then you’re going to start what I call the ladder effect where you have a hammock on top of a hammock, on top of a hammock. And we have to fix that, because part of what we do is to protect the resource,” according to Coffelt.

He says they will only allow two hammocks or camping units together.
“You can’t stack them six high. Nature just isn’t designed for all the things we want it to do sometimes. We want to work with people and adapt to them as much as possible,” says Coffelt.

Any interested person may submit comments regarding this regulatory proposal. The DNR is taking comments on the proposed rule change. You must submit your comments no later than 4:30 p.m. on June 2. Comments should be addressed to: [email protected]

There will be a public hearing by conference call at 10 a.m. on June 2.

(DNR photo of the campsite)

Sally J. Minick