Milestones

Milestones

The Palo Alto County Conservation Board has made progress over the years. The majority of the projects and land acquisitions were partially or fully funded with grant money from the Fish Habitat Fund, Land & Water Conservation Fund, Wildlife Habitat Fund, Water Recreation Access Cost Share, Resource Enhancement And Protection, Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever.

1920
* Shelter house was built in 1920 from logs cut in the park by prison labor from Fort Dodge. It had a huge fireplace at one end and all of the logs in the structure were fitted, and dove tailed like a pioneer’s cabin.

1935
* Iowa Conservation Commission was formed (DNR)

1955
* Law passed to create County Conservation Boards

1960
* Palo Alto County Conservation Board established by voters

1961
* County Conservation Board Members – Harry Drum, Bertel Berkeland, Earl Ericksen, Henry Fehr, Art Weiland

1962
* Survey went out to determine families’ outdoor recreation preferences
* Vern Fisher was hired as an Executive Officer for the Conservation Board

1964
* The Iowa Conservation Commission deeded the Lost Island State Park to the County Conservation Board
* 44 acres adjacent to Lost Island State Park was purchased

 1965
* Board names county’s new park Lost Island-Huston Park

1966
* Sportsman Recreation Area was purchased

1967
* Gravel pit addition at Sportsman Recreation Area was transferred to the County Conservation Board

1968
* Boat ramp was installed at Lost Island-Huston Park
* Developed Sportsman Recreation Area-fishing access, rifle range, wildlife area, picnic area
* West Bend Wildlife Area was purchased

1969
* Approved the lease from the Palo Alto Gun Club for the shooting range
* West Bend Wildlife Area land addition was transferred to the County Conservation Board

 1970
* 24’ x 48’ cement picnic shelter was constructed on the north end of Lost Island-Huston Park

1971
* Camping fees $2
* Vern Fisher resigned as Executive Officer

1972
* Salton Park was purchased
* Steve Pitt replaces Vern Fisher

1973
* Salton Park is developed – parking area and entrance, picnic tables, grills, shelter houses, a drilled well and a cement block restroom
* Shelter house at Lost Island Park burned (was never determined what caused the fire)

1974
* Dan O’Brien was hired as Park Ranger

1975
* Basswood Recreation Area was purchased
* Camping fees increased to $2.50
* County Conservation Board was the District winner of the Marc Cox Agricultural Conservation Award
* Lockwood Bridge Wildlife Area – 25 acres – the area was acquired by the county for back taxes and control was transferred to the Conservation Board
* New picnic shelter built by the Emmetsburg Jaycees (replacing the shelter house that burned in 1973)
* Purchased an acre adjacent to Lost Island-Huston Park
* Sold Cylinder Creek Wildlife Area, funds went toward development costs at Salton Park
* Tore down an old corn crib at Basswood Recreation Area and used the lumber to build a 60’ footbridge at Lost Island-Huston Park. Youth Conservation Corps helped with the project.

 1976
* A 30’x36’ steel building behind the shop was built
* Built a fish cleaning station in Lost Island-Huston Park

1977
* Built fish cleaning station at Salton Park
* Constructed picnic shelters, parking areas, foot bridges and a nature trail at Basswood
* Dock for Salton Park was installed

1978
* Boat ramp at Salton Park was constructed
* Emmetsburg Jaycees built a 12’x16’ picnic shelter at Sportsman Recreation Area
* Open shelter house built on the cement decking at the north end of Lost Island-Huston Park
* Restroom was built at Basswood Recreation Area

1979
* Camping fees increased to $3
* Remodeled campground restroom

1980
* Asphalt roads and speed bumps at Lost Island-Huston Park were completed
* New beach toilet and dressing room was constructed in Lost Island-Huston Park
* 20 acres purchased SE of Graettinger – Riverview Wildlife Area

1981
* Rossiter Wildlife Area – donated by Burt Rossiter
* Built parking lots at Riverview and Rossiter Wildlife Areas
* Camping fee increased to $4
* County Conservation Board received the Conservation Achievement Award from the Northern Iowa Prairie Lakes Audubon Society
* Built picnic shelter in Lost Island-Huston Park near the boat ramp
* Roads End Prairie transferred to the Conservation Board
* Self registration booth was built in campground with numbered posts at campsites
* Robert Mulroney Recreation Area – 25 acres donated by Shirley Mulroney

1982
* Addition of 30’x50’ to the Morton building at shop was built
* Aerator at Five Island Lake was installed by DNR
* Beth Ford was hired as secretary
* Built wooden bridge over the ravine on the Lost Island-Huston Park trail
* Gary Williams was hired as park ranger
* Harry Drum elected to the State Association Board of Directors
* Addition to the Robert Mulroney Recreation Area was purchased
* Sold Lockwood Bridge Wildlife Area
* Steve Pitt received the Certificate of Appreciation award from the Iowa Conservation Commission (DNR) for outstanding achievement in the field of conservation

 1983
* Adele Holt was hired as Naturalist (shared with Kossuth County)
* Camping fees increased to $5
* Constructed the Outdoor Classroom self-guided trail at Lost Island-Huston Park
* New survey sent to the people of Palo Alto County to see what their priorities will be for the future
* Addition to the Basswood Recreation Area was purchased (junkyard area)
* 400 ton of fieldstone riprap placed on Silver Lake

1984
* Beach restroom was remodeled
* Built concrete picnic pads at Robert Mulroney Recreation Area
* Little-Bit-of-Prairie was transferred to the County Conservation Board from the Railroad Company
* Plans for developing the Basswood Recreation Area addition started

1985
* Established Palo Alto County Conservation Foundation Board
* Miriam Patton replaced Adele Holt as naturalist
* Brushy Bayou Wildlife Area was purchased
* Restrooms with flush toilets and showers at Lost Island campground were built

1986
* An appreciation award for outstanding support of the county conservation programs was presented to Jane Whitmore
* Camping fees increased to $6 for electric, $5 for non electric
* Camping registrations were up 43% from 1985
* Fieldstone rip rap was placed on east shore of Lost Island Lake
* Sod house in West Bend was built in cooperation with Kossuth County Conservation Board, West Bend Historical Society and volunteers
* The Board discussed the West Des Moines River channelization project involving the Corps of Engineers and the decision of the Board of Supervisors to request the $600,000 study be funded.  The Director was instructed to contact Iowa’s legislative delegation and voice our opposition to the project due to the adverse environmental effects it would have

 

1987
* Received Outstanding Conservation Education Award from the Iowa Conservation Education Council
* Started roadside management program in cooperation with Board of Supervisors
* Director of the County Conservation Board, Steve Pitt, went to Des Moines for a press conference with Governor Branstad. The County Conservation Board was granted an easement for the 57 acres of FmHA property east of Lost Island-Huston Park. This was the first conservation easement to be granted by the FmHA in the United States!

 

1988
* Built and erected 37 mallard boxes in cooperation with the DNR nesting study on restored wetlands
* Constructed 10 wetlands for Wetlands for Iowa Program
* Director, Steve Pitt received the Award of Merit from the Iowa Chapter of the Wildlife Society

 

1989
* Beach restroom updated to flush toilets and a dump station was installed
* REAP was established
* Built boat ramps at Basswood and Mulroney Recreation Areas
* Fieldstone rip rap was placed at Salton Park
* 160 acres was willed to the State and endorsed the County Conservation Board to manage what is called Telford Prairie
* Prairie Gold Wildlife Area was purchased

 

1990
* Built a parking lot, capped the well and built 3 dikes to restore the wetlands at Prairie Gold Wildlife Area
* First computer was donated to the County Conservation Board office
* H.R. Pettit Estate donated 10 acres – Plantation Wildlife Area (former site of the Plantation Ballroom)
* Received a quit claim deed from Robert and Patricia Neary – an addition to Brushy Bayou

 

1991
* Burns Prairie was purchased
* Removed buildings, capped well and constructed a parking lot at Telford Prairie
* River Runner Access was purchased
* Since starting the cage reared catfish program in 1981 – 14,000 catfish and 4200 bluegills have been released at Sportsman & Mulroney Recreation Areas
* Started five year plan to stock 8,250 walleye fingerlings annually into the Des Moines River

 

1992
* Board approved the joint management agreement with the DNR for establishment and maintenance of a wetland hiking trail, north of Lost Island Lake
* Conservation Board partnered with the Soil & Water Conservation District to bring Ruby Raindrop to
County 3rd grade students
* Purchased property adjacent to Prairie Gold Wildlife Area
* Sponsored a bus trip to see the Sandhill Crane migration at Grand Island, NE
* Steve Henderson was hired as Park Ranger

 

1993
* Camping fees increased to $8
* Lost Island Nature Center was completed

1994
* Art Hampe replaced Gary Williams as Operations Supervisor
* Dock at the Lost Island Nature Center was installed
* Miriam Patton received the Iowa Wildlife Federation Conservation Educator of the Year Award
* Larson Prairie was donated by the Albert and Grace Larson family
* Nature Center received Iowa Tourism Attraction of the Year Award
* West Fork Wetlands was purchased

 

1995
* Boat ramp was constructed at River Runner Access
* Emmetsburg 4-H Boosters Club helped build the observation blind and dock at Lost Island-Huston Park
* Huston Prairie was purchased
* Restored 8 acres of wetlands and planted native grasses at Huston Prairie

 

1997
* Fish cleaning station constructed at Lost Island Lake
* Watson Heritage Area was purchased

 

1998
* Bluestem Meadow Wildlife Area was purchased
* Eurasion watermilfoil was discovered at Sportsman Recreation Area
* Joyce Martinson replaced Beth Ford as secretary
* Palo Alto Soil & Water Conservation District received the National 1st Place Award from the National Association of Conservation Districts. The conservation education program is a joint partnership with the SWCD.
* Trumpeter Trail was launched
* Whitetail Flats Wildlife Area was purchased

 

1999
* Addition to Brushy Bayou was purchased
* Email/Internet was connected at the office
* Hauschen Wildlife Area was purchased

 

2000
* Building at Sewell property was moved to the Conservation Board headquarters in Lost Island-Huston Park
* Camping fees increased to $15 for electric and $10 for non-electric
* CRP contract for Huston Prairie was accepted
* Mary Barrick replaced Joyce Martinson as Office Manager
* New fish cleaning station at Salton Park was built
* Wetland restoration and prairie seeding at Hauschen Wildlife Area completed
* 668 catfish were released at Sportsman Recreation Area

 

2001
* Aaron Steffen was hired as Manager for the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program
* Received Outstanding Conservation Education Award from the Iowa Conservation Education Council
* Six County birding brochure was completed

 

2002
* Replaced the boat ramp at Lost Island Lake
* Prairie Gold Wildlife addition was purchased
* Sewell property was transferred from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to the City of Emmetsburg; the County Conservation Board has an easement on the property to assure development would be as intended by Gene Sewell.

 

2003
* Cabin donated by the Sundholm family near Albert City area was moved to the Clay County fairgrounds. It is being used by District III County Conservation Boards and Iowa DNR to display exhibits and host conservation education programs.
* Rock fishing riffle was constructed in the West Des Moines River, north end of Basswood Recreation Area
* Iowa Lakes Community College construction class helped build a new beach restroom and campground kiosk
* Lost Island Nature Center celebrated 10 years – a float was designed to participate in local parades
* Wetland construction at Prairie Gold Wildlife Area, Bluestem Meadow Wildlife Area and the West Fork Wetlands Wildlife Area began

 

2004
* Constructed a building for storage of equipment
* County Conservation Board website was designed

 

2005
* Conservation Peace Officers joined the Multi Agency Response Team
* Fieldstone riprap project was completed at Lost Island Lake
* Rock fishing riffle was constructed in the West Des Moines River, West Fork Wetlands area
* Tim Stowell replaced Aaron Steffen as IRVM Roadside Manager

 

2006
* Nut seeding completed at Watson’s Wildlife Area
* Nature Center classroom addition completed
* Rogers Wildlife Area was purchased
* 3.37 acres of land from the Duhigg family was donated for use as a park and bike trail destination-Duhigg Park

 

 

2007
* Casino grant received for a watershed display, tables and chairs at the nature center
* Duhigg Park was developed
* NRCS worked on wetland restoration and seeding plans for Rogers Wildlife Area
* Lost Island Lake was designated as a priority lake for restoration activities by the DNR
* Mountain Lion display hosted by the Nature Center

 

2008
* Casino grant for an outdoor amphitheater was received
* DNR began treating Eurasian milfoil in Sportsman Recreation Area
* Legislature appropriated $100,000 for the Lost Island Lake renovation project
* Over 200 boy scouts camped at Lost Island-Huston Park
* Rock fishing riffle was constructed in the West Des Moines River, adjacent to Basswood Recreation Area
* Sidney Soil debuted at West Elementary
* Watchable Wildlife website was designed

 

2009
* Casino grant for an educational kiosk was received
* Catfish were stocked at Sportsman Recreation Area
* IRVM program was transferred to the Palo Alto County Planning and Zoning Department by the Board of Supervisors
* Lammers Landing was purchased near Graettinger
* Rock reef was constructed on the north side of Lost Island Lake

 

2010
* Plans are underway for construction of a boat ramp at Lammers Landing