Welcome "new" field team members

With the onset of summer, we've added two interns to our field team. Grant Swanson and Trenton Gebhardt have returned for their second and third summers, respectively. Both are students at Iowa State University. Our field interns work the summer months helping our full-time staff do whatever needs done in the parks. 

Also joining our team is Bryce Wade. He is our newest part time field tech. 

Big Hollow Projects moving along

Campground Expansion

Our field team has been working hard to complete the new campsites at Big Hollow Recreation Area. As of this writing, all the sites have been built and the rock is in place for the 18 new sites built into the timber just west of the existing RV campground. We need to give the rock some time to settle. In the meantime, we will add the registration posts and get some of the sites listed for reservation online. We expect to have the sites open this month. All sites are electric only. There are two buddy sites (you can park two campers on the same site) and five are a group site in a big circle, all of which will be rented together. Watch for a ribbon cutting/open house announcement soon to officially open the sites.

Accessibility Improvements

Additionally, contractors have just started the grading on three of the existing campsites in the RV campground. These sites will be paved for ADA accessibility. Once those are done, the contractor will add paved walkways at the fishing jetty and kayak launch dock below the campground and around the three sides of the beach. Those walkways will connect to paved parking by also paving the gravel trail that connects the parking lot to the beach. 

All of these projects are being funded by grants and community donations. 

Sediment Ponds

The contractor has all but completed the work building two new sediment ponds to improve water quality on Big Hollow Lake. The ponds are located west of the existing RV campground, one on each side (east and west) of the Primitive Campground. Funded by a state Fish Habitat Grant, these ponds will capture sediment that previously went into the lake. This is part of our EPA-approved Watershed Plan

All the above projects have been strategically and intentionally selected as part of the Big Hollow Master Plan

Environmental Education Division Update

Welcoming Our Summer Naturalist Intern

We are thrilled to introduce Angela, our new summer naturalist intern, who joined us on May 15th. Angela has seamlessly integrated into our team, quickly absorbing new information and assisting with various field trips. Her enthusiasm and fresh perspective are a wonderful addition, and we look forward to a summer full of exciting programs with her on board.

A Whirlwind of Field Trips

May was our peak month for field trips, and this year was no exception. We hosted 20 field trips, each averaging around 50 students. The beautiful spring weather provided the perfect backdrop for a variety of engaging activities. Students participated in:

These activities not only provided hands-on learning experiences but also fostered a deep appreciation for nature among the students.

Bat Guano Collection for Conservation

Our annual bat guano collection has commenced at Starr’s Cave. Each week, we carefully collect samples using personal protective equipment (PPE) and send them to the state for testing. This data helps monitor the health and status of the bat population in the cave, especially crucial since the detection of white-nose syndrome in previous years. This ongoing research is vital for bat conservation efforts.

Bike A Trail Event

We organized a Bike A Trail event, offering a unique way for visitors to explore the Flint River Trail. With George as our fearless leader and biking coach, six enthusiastic participants embarked on an 8-mile ride. This event was a hit, and we plan to host more biking programs throughout the summer.

Outdoor Youth Jamboree a success, despite rain

The Outdoor Youth Jamboree was June 1st, and despite a rather wet day, we had over 250 people attend the annual event.

Strengthening Partnerships

We’ve also strengthened our partnership with Prairie Roots Landscaping. Samuel from Prairie Roots led an insightful hike through Hickory Bend Recreation Area, focusing on the importance of pollinators in our ecosystem. The event was a great success, and we are grateful for Sam's expertise. We look forward to more collaborative efforts in the future.

May was been an action-packed month for the EE team, filled with learning, exploration, and community engagement. We are excited about the upcoming summer activities and continuing our mission to connect people with nature. Stay tuned for more updates and join us for the many adventures ahead!





published Thursday, May 23, 2024

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