Welcome Hackberry 1 Americorps NCCC team

In mid-October, the 7-member Americorps NCCC team called Hackberry 1 joined our crew for their four-week service project with us. During their time here, they have cleared invasive species, started painting the exterior of the old ranger residence at Big Hollow, repaired picnic tables, and even helped with the Big Holloween event. If the weather cooperates, they will also help our team with prescribed fires in various forested areas throughout our county park system. Find out more about the team in this Facebook video.

Americorps members serve directly with nonprofit and government entities "to tackle our nation's most pressing challenges." The National Civilian Conservation Corps (NCCC) consists of groups of college-age youth that travel around their respective regions helping organizations tackle various needs. Americorps NCCC members serve 10-month terms. Prior to their service with DMCC, Hackberry 1 members worked in Wisconsin and near Dubuque, Iowa.

Rx Burns Starting

As part of forest management efforts, our crews will be conducting prescribed burns in some of our timbers throughout the county parks. Areas targeted for fire this fall are Hunt Woods, Big Hollow, Hickory Bend, and Starr's Cave

Prescribed fire is a highly effective management tool for promoting native species such as oaks and hickories, removing invasive species, and improving wildlife habitat. All of our burns are conducted according to forest management plans and prescribed burn plans. Each burn is led by trained and experienced staff members. Burns are generally done in afternoons and we often see wildlife using the burned areas within a day or two. The fires burn off leaf litter and plant residue on the forest floor, thereby exposing soil and all the yummy goodness it contains (roasted acorns or hickory nuts, anyone?). It also helps with regeneration of fire-adapted species such as oaks the following growing season. 

Can they stay, or should they go?

We get many requests throughout the year to allow long-term camping at our campgrounds. From traveling healthcare professionals to construction workers, you may be surprised by the number of people that live in campers full time while working in the area. We have a two-week stay limit in all our campgrounds currently, after which a camper must leave the park for at least seven days. With the number of construction projects on the docket for our community, not the least of which is the $1.5 billion project at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, there's an increasing demand for long term camping. 

In light of that, the Des Moines County Conservation Board is tossing around the idea of waiving the two-week rule for some campsites at Welter Recreation Area down along the Skunk River on the south end of the county. We don't know exactly what that will look like, but we're exploring options, as we often do when we identify a community need. If you have thoughts on this subject, please share them with us via email, by calling our office at (319) 753-8260, or by attending any Conservation Board meeting. Meetings are the first Wednesday of every month at 5:30 PM at our Main Office. 


published Friday, November 3, 2023

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