Big Hollow Improvements Underway

The last month has been crazy busy with park improvement projects at Big Hollow Recreation Area. Our crews finished putting the rock down on the new campsites we built just west of the existing RV campground. We now offer 18 additional electric campsites, five of which are grouped together in a circle for groups that want to camp together. All of the new sites are built right into the existing forest and are almost completely shaded for most of the day. Most of the sites are reservable online at

Our contractor completed the earthwork on the new sediments ponds on either side of the primitive campground. These ponds will capture sediment that would otherwise have gone into the lake. These ponds were built with funds from a Fish Habitat Grant, funded by the purchase of fishing licenses. Once full, the DNR will stock them with fish and they will be open for public use just like the rest of the park.

Lastly, the concrete contractor at the park has completed the paving of three of the existing campsites in the main RV campground as well as the fishing jetty on the lake below the campground. From the jetty, a walkway to the kayak launch has also been completed, complete with a retaining wall on the uphill side. Currently, the contractor is working on the pathway that connects the newly paved parking area at the beach parking lot to the new sidewalks around all three sides of the beach. These accessibility improvements and campground expansion are completely funded by community donations and a federal grant. These projects are all part of the Park Master Plan that was developed in 2021 with input from park visitors and the community. 

We can't wait to show you the finished products and we're looking forward to seeing how much more accessible these improvements make the park. 

Environmental Education Department Update

Welcome, Aron!
This month, we were thrilled to onboard Aron, our new CORES position member. Aron comes to us with a wealth of experience from his previous role in a high school setting. We’re excited to see his skills and techniques shine through in our recreational programming over the summer.

Jamboree Success!
The Outdoor Youth Jamboree on June 1st was a hit! Despite a bit of rain, we had an incredible turnout with 259 participants. This free event, made possible by generous donations and dedicated volunteers, showcases the various recreational opportunities in our area and connects people to different clubs and organizations.

Master Gardeners' Plant Talk
Marcus hosted an educational session for the Master Gardeners, focusing on poisonous and toxic plants like Poison Ivy, Wild Parsnip, Poke Weed, Stinging Nettle, and Thorny Locust. The session concluded with a short hike and identification workshop, enhancing the gardeners' knowledge and preparedness.

Prepping for Summer Camps
In preparation for our summer camps, we undertook a deep cleaning and reorganization of the nature center. With the help of our seasonal staff, we removed old displays, brought camp supplies to the forefront, revitalized our med kits, and conducted essential training sessions to ensure we're ready for the campers.

Farewell to Our Tiger Salamander
We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Tiger Salamander, an animal ambassador who educated thousands about the fragile indicator species found locally, has passed away due to health issues. We hope to find a new animal ambassador soon to continue this important educational role.

Park Maintenance
June's storms and high winds resulted in fallen limbs and dead trees across our trails. Using a rented golf cart, we efficiently cleared these obstructions and recovered a couple of vandalized signs. Keeping our trails safe and accessible remains a top priority.

Bat Guano Collection
For four weeks, we collected bat guano every Monday for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These samples, labeled by location and date, will help assess the health of the bats at Starr’s Cave. We look forward to the results of this annual project.

Summer Camps Kickoff
Summer camps are in full swing, with five different camps held in June. Children from all over the region have been enjoying fun adventures, games, and experiences at Starr’s Cave. We're excited to continue the fun throughout the summer.

Looking Ahead: July

Camp Programming
July promises to be another busy month with seven different camps planned, offering various times and locations. Summer camp is a fantastic opportunity for campers of all ages to learn, explore, and discover new things.

Hike A Park
Join us in July for Hike A Park events, where the public can explore and enjoy local parks with like-minded individuals. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more details.

Community Day in the Park
On July 13th, we’ll be at Dankwardt Park for Community Day, leading an archery station. This event is a wonderful opportunity to connect with community members from all over. We hope to see you there!

Bike a Trail
Mark your calendars for July 25th, from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM, for our Bike a Trail event. Starting at Zion School along the Flint River Trail, this event requires an RSVP as DMCC has a few bikes available for loan. Meet us at Zion School or follow us there from Starr’s Cave Nature Center. To RSVP, please call Aron at 319-753-5808.

published Monday, June 24, 2024

More Blogs