Clayton County Conservation 2019 will be a year of major milestones

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A rainfall simulator was one of several updates to the Nature Center displays and exhibit area at the Obsorne Conservation Center.
A rainfall simulator was one of several updates to the Nature Center displays and exhibit area at the Obsorne Conservation Center.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

Clayton County Conservation will celebrate a number of milestones in 2019, including 30 years as an Iowa welcome Center (May 2) and 60 years as a conservation board (July 12). The 45th annual Heritage Days will be celebrated in October and as 2019 closes, the annual Motor Mill Bridge Lighting ceremony will honor the 150th year of the structure.

And while 2019 will be a remarkable year, the one that’s ending has been equally successful. Here’s a look at Clayton County Conservation achievements shared by Director Jenna Pollock.

Nature Center Displays and Exhibits were updated with funding secured through the Upper Mississippi Gaming Commission. Naturalist Kenny Slocum is responsible for the grant that provided over $17,000 for the updates. In addition, the Clayton County Foundation for the Future contributed $1,000 to the Turtle Tanks upgrade portion of the project. Proceeds from the Motor Motor 5K also helped to move the turtle project along.

Office manager Molly Scherf secured the organization’s second Paint Iowa Beautiful Grant in the amount of $235.13, which helped cover the cost to paint the basement or Nature Center portion of the Welcome Center. ITC Midwest also contributed $1,500 to help with the Nature Center Project.

“In the spring, we turned our attention to the Motor Mill Interpretation Project,” wrote Pollock in her year-end review. “Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area had awarded the site $10,000 through their General Grant program and an additional $500 through their small grant. Silos and Smokestacks also helped fund the Motor Mill seasonal intern with a $2,750 contribution from their internship program (secured by our naturalist Abbey Harkrader). A partnership with the Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Office brought in additional byways funds to the project ($2,800 from Iowa Byways Sustainability Project) since the Motor Mill sits on the River Bluffs Scenic Byway and serves as an Interpretive Center of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway. Northeast Iowa RC&D also contributed $5,042.80 worth of time in the project.

Last summer, the Motor Mill Trail Project engineering began to take root. Of the nearly $684,000 awarded to the project, a little over $600,000 will remain for construction in 2019. When completed the Motor Mill Trail will provide a looped multi-modal transportation route with the Turkey River Water Trail. The trail departs Elkader from Turkey River Park on the south side of town and consists of a bike lane heading south along state highway 13 where it then heads east along Grandview County Road as a trail separated from the roadway, riding along the backslope of the county road before heading east overland to the Motor Mill Historic District.

“We have a number of individuals to thank for this route including very generous landowners, Clayton County Engineer Rafe Koopman, and the Clayton County Supervisors,” Pollock noted.

Also last summer the Osborne Pond Renovation project got underway with the assistance of a Fish Habitat Grant in the amount of $29,628. The funds from this grant are directly related to the sale of fish licenses and stamps sold in Iowa. In addition, private donations in the sum of $7,500 have been received for the Osborne Pond Memorial Floating dock to be installed in the spring of 2019 following completion of the pond dredge project and installation of fish habitat structures.

In the meantime, two water trail access projects move forward at Motor Mill (Water Recreation Access Cost-share $13,710) and Millville/Becker East Property on the Turkey River (Water Access Improvement Project-IDNR, about $25,000).
The Junior Naturalist Camp for 8th Grade went through a major overhaul including the addition of new camping equipment through a generous donation from Alliant ($2,874 secured by Slocum). And the Conservation Board has added some additional IT equipment through the Aureon granting program with Alpine.

In total, Clayton County Conservation secured more than $113,000 in grant funding and donations to capital projects alone for 2018—not including Trail Funding.

“And those dollars invested are a small piece of the economic return we’ll receive from the completion of these projects,” Pollock noted. “We’ve gotten our 2019 to-do list together and are ready to seek even more funding for worthy conservation projects in the year ahead. If we’re successful we’ll bring in an additional $350,000 in grant funding alone!”
 

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