We're moving to Starr's Cave

Starr's Cave Nature CenterOur team has been making great progress on renovations to Starr's Cave Nature Center. By the end of March, we plan to begin the transition from our main office in West Burlington to the nature center. Once the move is complete, we will no longer operate out of our West Burlington location at all (rumor has it that Emergency Management and Joint Safety Commission staff will take it over). From then forward, all department services will be handled at the nature center. Our Director, Administrative Assistant, and Environmental Education staff will be housed at the same location, which will allow us to have the facility open at more times and consolidates operations, resulting efficiencies and cost savings. We'll do a formal "grand opening" once the transition is complete.

The new address for the department will be:

Des Moines County Conservation
Starr's Cave Nature Center
11627 Starr's Cave Rd.
Burlington, IA 52601

RAGBRAI comes to Burlington this summer

The state's largest bike ride concludes it's week-long ride across Iowa in Burlington this year. RAGBRAI begins this year at the Missouri River in Glenwood on July 20 and ends at Burlington's riverfront on July 27. If you or someone you know plans to ride the event and wants to camp, we strongly recommend getting your site reserved today. As of last check, there were only two reservable sites available at Big Hollow Recreation Area for the July 27 weekend. However, we do plan to have more sites built by then. 

If you want to reserve a cabin at Big Hollow, the Ranger House Cabin will be available for July reservations on April 1. The Wilson Foundation Off-Grid Cabin can be reserved now. 

All reservations are made at MyCountyParks.com

Campground Construction Underway + Other Park Improvements

With the early arrival of spring weather, we have started work on the campground expansion at Big Hollow Recreation Area. At the conservation board meeting this week, we will select contractors to install the electrical service to all 18 new sites. We will also select a contractor to install accessible sidewalks at the beach, fishing jetty, and kayak launch dock. In all, we'll be doing just shy of $400,000 worth of improvements to the park, 100% of which will be paid for by grants and donations from the community. This is all part of our Park Master Plan. 

We have lots more we'd like to do. If you'd like to contribute to this or any other project, contact us. Tax-deductible contributions can be made through the Partners for Conservation Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that supports parks and conservation projects in Des Moines County. 

I Heart County Parks Banquet on April 4

Speaking of the Foundation, they're hosting a fundrasing banquet for us on April 4th at Barn on the Ridge. There will be raffles, prizes, and a great BBQ dinner. Get your tickets today for what's sure to be a really fun event raising money for YOUR county parks.

The Foundation is still seeking donations and sponsors for the event. If you have something to donate or want to get your business name in front of the outdoors community, contact event coordinator Nicole Morris at (563) 554-3246 or via email at nicm1523@gmail.com.

Environmental Education Division Updates

Hike A Park Series: Explore the Outdoors

Our popular Hike A Park Series is back in action! This March, we're offering three captivating hikes, providing the perfect opportunity to embrace the changing seasons in various parks. If you're interested in joining but lack transportation, worry not! Call Starr’s Cave Nature Center at 319-753-5808 to reserve a spot in the van. Seating is limited, so act fast to secure your ride and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Field Trip Frenzy: Learning in the Great Outdoors

March marks the beginning of our busy field trip season. Starr’s Cave is buzzing with educational opportunities suitable for all grade levels. Our tailored lessons cater to classroom curriculums, ensuring a seamless integration of outdoor learning. While our program calendar is filling up, we are still accepting requests. Collaborate with us to customize a field trip that aligns perfectly with your students' needs.

Invasive Species Removal Day: Make a Difference

Join us on March 13th at 12:00 for our Invasive Species Removal Day! Armed with gloves and loppers, let's come together to combat invasive plant species invading our beloved park. This event is not only educational but also service-oriented. Get ready to roll up your sleeves and make a positive impact on the environment as we work together to restore the park to its natural beauty.

Summer Camp Sneak Peek: Registration Opens Soon

While summer might feel like a distant dream, it's right around the corner. Mark your calendars for March 20th at 12:00 pm when our summer camp registration opens. With diverse opportunities for children ages 3-15, these camps offer a perfect blend of education and fun. Registration will be through mycountyparks.com, and remember, spaces are limited. To secure your spot, set up your account well before the registration date.

Nature Center Facelift: Enhancing Efficiency and Sustainability

Exciting changes are happening at the nature center! The first floor is undergoing a transformation to create more office space. This strategic move brings our office administrator, Environmental Education Staff, and Executive Director together under one roof. We believe this upgrade will enhance efficiency and align seamlessly with our commitment to sustainability. The staff is hard at work, and we can't wait to unveil the revamped space soon.

As March unfolds, join us in embracing the wonders of nature and environmental education. Whether it's a hike, a field trip, or actively participating in conservation efforts, there's something for everyone at the Environmental Education Department. Stay tuned for more updates, and let's make March a month to remember!

published Tuesday, March 5, 2024

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