DNR director confirmed; some Democrats say agency is hamstrung by governor

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Kayla Lyon, left, addresses a joint meeting of the Natural Resource Commission and the Environmental Protection Commission Jan. 22, 2020 at the Wallace State Office Building. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The Iowa Senate reconfirmed the director of the state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday despite concerns from some Democrats that she is forced to operate as a puppet of Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“Kayla Lyon is just like many of Gov. Reynolds’ other appointees and department heads — she can only do so much,” said Sen. Claire Celsi, D-West Des Moines. “She can only do what the boss tells her to do.”

A Reynolds spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to comment for this article.

Lyon, 39, of Ames, was appointed to the post by Reynolds in 2019. Her reconfirmation by the Senate this week was prompted by state law, which requires another confirmation vote for appointees after four years.

She leads a department of about 890 full-time and 450 seasonal employees. It is charged with maintaining public areas and wildlife and the enforcement of environmental regulations on businesses, cities, drinking water utilities and livestock operations.

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