The Beginning

The idea for Iowa’s county conservation system had its inception as a part of Iowa’s 25 year plan for conservation prepared in 1933. In this report, it was recognized that state and federal governments did not have the ability, or financial capability, of providing all of the conservation and outdoor recreation areas and facilities to meet the needs of the people in future years. The premise of this plan is local people providing for the needs of their own friends and neighbors.

The legislature passed a bill creating the County Conservation Board law in 1955. The voters of each county then determined whether a county conservation board would be established. The first step was to present a petition of two hundred voters’ names to the county board of supervisors. The Palo Alto County Womens Club petitioned 200 names. The Board of Supervisors submitted the petition to be on the ballot for the next primary or general election. At that time, if the majority of the voters vote in favor to create a county conservation board the Board of Supervisors must appoint five residents of “demonstrated interest in conservation matters” to serve as a conservation board within 60 days. The terms are 5 years, in a “staggered” arrangement to maintain a continuity of experience.

The Board powers and duties are many, particularly when you consider this is a non-elected board that serves without pay. This board has the custody, control and management of all real and personal property acquired by the county for public parks, preserves, wildlife areas, forests and other conservation purposes. In acquiring or accepting land, due consideration shall be given to its scenic, historic, archeologic, recreational or other special features.

In 1962, a questionnaire was sent to the homes through the community schools in Palo Alto County, of which 1206 were returned and evaluated. The findings revealed a definite need for more picnic areas, play grounds, access to lakes and streams, camping and wildlife areas. After putting together the thought of the citizens and needs of the county, the board took action and hired an executive officer to carry out the detailed orders of the board. This was the beginning…..