DICKINSON COUNTY NEWS
Boaters will encounter a new, yet familiar face on the Iowa Great Lakes this summer.
Steve Reighard, a longtime park ranger in the Gull Point State Park Complex, has been selected as a new conservation officer for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Dickinson County.
He succeeds Gary Owen, who retired after 30 years with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Reighard began his new duties Friday, May 11.
“I always wanted to work for the DNR,” Reighard said. “I changed careers at 38. I went back to school and got a four-year degree in fish and wildlife management from South Dakota State University.”
Reighard worked seasonally for the fisheries department here in the Iowa Great Lakes as he pursued his degree. After graduation, he continued seasonal work for both the fisheries management and the hatchery divisions in Spirit Lake.
The area’s park ranger position opened up 15 months later. He got the job in July 2005.
“With the state parks, you work for the parks bureau, you do not work for the law enforcement bureau,” Reighard said. “You assist the law enforcement bureau as needed. Your main duties are within the Gull Point State Park Complex, which is 26 different areas in two counties – taking care of the campgrounds, law enforcement and some maintenance.”
Reighard is one of two conservation officers serving Dickinson County. He’ll share duties, including lake patrol, with longtime conservation officer Jeff Morrison.
“I’m awful glad to have Steve as my partner,” Morrison said. “He’s been park ranger for seven years and we’ve worked fairly close together throughout that time period. I’m looking forward to working with him over the next several years.”
Reighard’s new role includes a nine week training period with a Field Training Officer both inside and outside of the Gull Point Complex.
“It’s going to be a big undertaking,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have a seasoned veteran like Jeff show me the ropes.”
Seasonal lake patrol officers are set to arrive in the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend. The eight arriving officers are called on to be the eyes and ears out on the lakes. Reighard will also help supervise seasonal officers from other districts who are brought in during peak times of the summer.
Reighard spent much of the past week helping Morrison set up buoys around beaches and docks in the Iowa Great Lakes.
The new conservation officer spent plenty of time on the land as a park ranger. He’s expecting more responsibility on the water as the summer season arrives.
“My main philosophy is to just keep it safe for everyone who comes up to enjoy the Iowa Great Lakes,” he said.