There’s a new face up at Bellevue State Park which should brighten up the summer camping and tourism season in 2019.
While Jason Gilmore remains the Park Ranger, Elli Souhla, has officially been named the new Park Manager.
Both Department of Natural Resources (DNR) professionals spend half their time in Bellevue, and the other half at the Mines of Spain near Dubuque. Andy Roach, the most recent Park Manager transferred to Volga Lake in Fayette County.
Combined, the two basically fill the one full-time DNR position that opened up when former Park Ranger Shannon Peterson left the park manager post about three years ago.
Park law enforcement, daily maintenance, conservation projects, installing and maintaining trails are all part of their combined duties, as well as the regular office paperwork and other official DNR duties.
Souhla, the new Bellevue State Park Manager, hails from Jones County in the Oxford Junction area. She is a graduate of Midland High School, earning her bachelor of arts degree in Outdoor Conservation at Mounty Mercy College. Prior to that, she attended Kirkwood Community College’s Parks and Natural Resources program.
She has worked the past six summers for Jones County Conservation, and also recently served as a Naturalist at Maquoketa Caves State Park. She is the daughter of Danny and Jamie Souhla.
“Bellevue is one of my favorite places, with the river and the bluffs, and I’ve always enjoyed nature and the outdoors,” said Souhla. “I initially wanted to be a biologist, but that changed a bit over the years, but I am happy to be here at Bellevue State Park.”
Gilmore, the Bellevue State Park Ranger, is originally from Maquoketa who worked in conservation posts at Briggs Woods in Hamilton County, as well as for the Jackson County Conservation Board.
As well as maintaining the massive park, along with its campgrounds and Iowa’s oldest butterfly garden, the two will also work with the DNR year round to make sure the park is safe and well-groomed.
While park staff work year-round, the peak season for state park visitors is May through October.
2018 marked the 90th anniversary of Bellevue State Park, which is one of the most scenic, largest and oldest state parks in Iowa.
Those who want more information on Bellevue State Park can call the park office at 563-872-4019.