April 2023 Conservation UpdatesHere's some of what's happening at your county conservation department...
Chris Lee, Executive Director
DMCC Welcomes Jacklyn Goodman as "new" Naturalist
On April 3, Jacklyn Goodman started as the full-time Naturalist at Starr's Cave Nature Center. However, Jacklyn isn't exactly new to the department. She started working here as a part time naturalist through the Americorps program last year, was officially hired as a part time naturalist with DMCC last fall, and now takes on the role full time. If you've attended any of our recent Hike-a-Park programs, the Invasive Species Removal Day, or other nature center programs, you've likely already met Jacklyn. She's also spent a lot of time in classrooms and on field trips helping students learn about the natural world.
Jacklyn will be taking the lead on summer camps this year as well. The signup for this year's summer camps opens on April 25.
Americorps position available at DMCC
As part of our continuted partnership with Americorps 4-H, we're accepting applications for a seasonal naturalist through the program. Find out more here.
Here's the position description:
The individual in this position is an employee of AmeriCorps 4H that will perform duties for Des Moines County Conservation (DMCC), as set out in the job description, under the direct supervision of the Environmental Education Manager, Marcus Nack. This individual prepares and executes summer programming for youth ages 3-13 years old. This individual will promote conservation through environmental education and interpretation. Conservation education, and outdoor recreation programs are delivered to the public, summer camp participants, and local school groups. This individual is also expected to help with the care and maintenance of Des Moines County Conservation’s parks and natural areas by participating in beautification and conservation practices.
This person will serve a minimum of 450 hours with a maximum of 32 hours/week through the summer, and 15 hours/ week during the fall. These hours will be regularly served weekly, however, some nights or weekends will be required based on the member’s service projects. The part-time, seasonal term runs from June 1 to October 30. It offers a $900/month living allowance, a $1,718.25 education award, and $125 in Self-Determined Professional Development Funding.
For more information, contact Marcus Nack at Starr's Cave Nature Center: (319) 753-5808 or via email.
Got your camping reservation in yet?
Spring is off to a fast start and many of Des Moines County's campgrounds are already getting busy. Reservations have been steady as campers book dates for summer camping trips. The reserved sites at Big Hollow Recreation Area are already sold out for all three holiday weekends this summer: Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.
Planning to get some camping in this year? Get your calendars out and book your dates now before they're gone.
All of our campgrounds do also offer first-come-first-served or "walk-up" sites so if you can't get a reservation at Big Hollow for a particular weekend (Big Hollow is the only campground that takes reservations), you can arrive early for a walk-up site. During busy weeks, we try to keep tabs on how many sites are available throughout the week so feel free to call our office to check on availability before driving out to the parks.
What's up with the Flint River Trail?
We get asked a lot if the Flint River Trail segment that runs from Burlington's riverfront to Mill Dam Road will ever connect to the trail segment at Starr's Cave Park and Preserve. As it stands, the only way to bike through is to bike onto Hwy 99, go north to Golf Course Rd., then take it over to Irish Ridge Rd. and down (south) to the entrance to Starr's Cave Rd. It's certainly not an ideal route due to the steep hills, blind curves, lack of road shoulders, and traffic speeds.
For years, we've been working to secure an off-road connection between the two segments to no avail. We value landowner rights and will not force someone to allow a trail across their property if they don't want to. This year, we're back to the drawing board to identify route alternatives that don't require private land acquisitions. We're currently exploring the feasibility of connecting to the North Gorge Trail system via the Leopold Recreation Area but we know doing so would require a sizeable bridge through flood-prone bottomland. A such, there would be significant engineering and permitting logistics that may prove overly prohibitive. We're currently working with engineers and the permitting agencies to find out.
In short, though it seems like nothing is happening, we are, have been, and will continue to work behind the scenes to get a continuous, mostly off-road trail corridor from Burlington to Big Hollow established eventually.
Input needed regarding off-leash use of remote trail sections
The Des Moines County Conservation Board is considering amending the rules on the more remote portions of the Flint River Trail to allow dogs off-leash on those sections. The rule change, if made, would still require dogs to be kept under the control of the owner but wouldn't specifically require the use of a leash.
Are you a trail user and if so, do you have an opinion on this one way or another? We would love to get input from as many of our trail users as possible before making a decision. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office at (319) 753-8260. The topic will be on the agenda for the May 3rd Conservation Board meeting. The board meets the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 PM, generally at the Main Office in West Burlington.
published Friday, April 7, 2023