Ah, fall. The leaves are turning. The weather is cooling. Pumpkin spice, apple cider, and football. 

And parks! Always parks.

Here at Des Moines County Conservation, we're not about to slow down yet. Fall is a great time to get out into your county parks. And to prove it, we have several events coming up to connect you to those outdoor spaces. 

**The next hike in our Hike-a-Park series is scheduled to take place on Thursday, October 12 at the Black Oak Lake in Shimek State Forest in Lee and Van Buren counties beginning at 3:00 PM. Carpooling is available, call the nature center to save your spot at 319-753-5808. Shimek is one of only a few state forests in Iowa and one of the largest tracts of forest in this part of the state. This will undoubtedly be a great outing.

Led by naturalists, these guided hikes will take you on a journey of discovery, exploring trails ranging from 1 to 4 miles in length. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a beginner, this series caters to everyone's preferences and fitness levels. Feel free to leave at any time; no registration or fee is required to join!

**Next Saturday, October 14 is Big Holloween! Between 4:00 and 6:00 PM, bring the family to the campground at Big Hollow Recreation Area for trick-or-treating among the campers, s'more roasting, hayrack rides, a costume contest, and lots of fun! Grab dinner from the food truck on site. Then starting at 7:00 PM, the hayracks will provide rides into the Timber of Terror, a volunter-run haunted forest, for $5/rider. The rest of the event, minus the food truck, is completely free. 

**On October 19, staff from Starr's Cave Nature Center and Lee County Conservation will host the next Hike-a-Park event at Wilson Lake down in Lee County starting at 3:00. Our Hike-a-Park series is designed to connect you to local parks, county boundaries notwithstanding. 

**Also on October 19 is the regional REAP Assembly

Are you interested in improving natural resources such as water, air, habitat and wildlife for the direct  benefit of insert your local area?  Please join us on October 19 from 3:30 to 5:30 at Starr's Cave Nature Center to share ideas for how Iowa’s premier funding program for outdoor recreation and conservation can assist your county and communities.

Established in 1989, the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program has funded nearly $389 million for city, county and state park projects that have included water quality improvements, habitat protection, roadside prairies, historical development and conservation education. Check out  www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/REAP/Projects-by-County to discover REAP projects close to where you live.

REAP assemblies are held all across the state every two years, and are a great opportunity for local citizens to learn more about REAP, work with like-minded citizens who are also interested in natural resource work, and share your ideas on how REAP can work better for your county or community.  You will have the chance to identify opportunities for regional projects, and review and recommend changes in policies, programs and funding.

Please join us at our regional assembly on October 19 at Starr's Cave Nature Center from 3:30 to 5:30.

After assemblies are held in the fall, elected delegates from each region will attend the statewide REAP Congress in January 2024 in Des Moines. Regional priorities will be voted on by the entire REAP Congress and sent to the Governor and legislature. Ultimately through this process, you help Iowa preserve a rich and diverse natural environment for generations.

REAP builds communities, how do you want to build yours? Come join the conversation! Learn more at: www.iowadnr.gov/reap.

**On October 26, our Hike-a-Park series returns home for a hike at Starr's Cave. Timed perfectly to leaf peeping season, this hike through the preserve's scenic trails is sure to provide stunning fall views. The hike starts at 3:00 PM. 

Even if you don't attend one of our upcoming events, remember that fall, in all its colorful splendor, is a great time to get outside. There's so much to see, the temperatures are comfortable, the bugs are minimal, and wildlife are on the move. 

See you in the parks!

published Friday, October 6, 2023

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