Welcome to the Winnebago County Conservation Board, one of 99 county conservation boards in Iowa.

We are located in the rolling hills of north-central Iowa's prairie pothole region.

Our purpose is to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for everyone and to protect and conserve our natural resources.

Scroll down for the latest news and browse through our web site often to see what we have to offer! And, be sure to contact us if you have any comments or questions!

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Read the latest edition of "The Prairie Country Quarterly" here.

Three Deer Eating


Check out our
Thorpe Park web cam!


Covid-19 Restrictions:

The WCCB office and shop buildings remain closed to the public.

All kitchen utensils and cooking supplies have been removed from the Lake Catherine Cabin, so please bring your own if you plan to cook in the cabin. 

Please be sure to follow these rules while visiting our county parks:
--Observe all social distancing rules. Please keep a 6' distance from others, and allow others to keep their distance, as well.
--Avoid touching common surfaces when possible.
--Avoid touching your face.
--Please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer often.

Thank you!

We are now letting bids for our new Environmental Education Center!

Our project is now open for bid letting, with construction and contract documents now available for contractors. The bids are due by January 28th, 2021, and will be publicly opened at that time. Hopefully, if the bids come in on budget, we will be able to begin actual construction in the Spring, with project completion by December. Soon afterwards, we will then hold our Environmental Education Center Grand Opening!

If you are a contractor, and are interested in bidding on our project, the Notice of Public Hearing and Letting of Bids can be found here.

We want to thank all the donors who have contributed so generously to this project and have helped to make this vision become a reality! We are truly grateful for all the support we have received!

Environmental Education Center Capital Campaign

Connecting Generations Naturally:
A Campaign to Build an Environmental Education Center in Winnebago County

The WCCB and our Friends Foundation have begun a capital fundraising campaign to raise money for our new environmental education center. Below is information about that campaign and how you can help!

Why an Environmental Education Center?

Currently, Winnebago County has no environmental education center. The WCCB offices are housed in a 65-year old converted cabin which is not ADA-compliant and is at the end of a 5-mile gravel road. The current building is less than 2,000 square feet and can accommodate fewer than a dozen visitors at a time.

Almost 3/4 of Iowa's counties now have nature centers. These facilities get people outdoors and promote an increased quality of life. They offer environmental programming for school and civic groups, as well as the general public. They are tourist destinations that help visitors learn about the valuable natural resources of the area and also serve as meeting locations for local civic groups and other organizations. Our center would serve all of these purposes, as well as house the offices of the WCCB.

Blomster Ground in Fall
  • The center will contain exhibits and interactive displays to help increase people's awareness and knowledge of their natural resources, as well as how to conserve those resources.
  • It will be centrally-located in the county, just south of the north junction of Highways 9 and 69.
  • The building will be 40' x 96', or 7,680 square feet over two levels.
  • It will be a post-and-beam design, with 28'-high vaulted ceilings.
  • The building will meet ADA specifications for accessibility.
  • It will include a variety of green design elements, including geothermal and solar energy systems.
  • Rooms will include offices, a large program/meeting room (that will seat 85-100 people), an exhibit area, a workshop/activity area, a staff meeting room, and a kitchenette.


It is estimated that the cost of the new center will be between $1.4 and $1.5 million. The WCCB has already voted to commit $225,000 to the project and the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors has committed $145,000. None of this money will come from county tax dollars. The rest is being raised through grants and private donations.

The following donor recognition levels have been established...

  • Chickadee Level: < $250
  • Bluebird Level: $250-$499
  • Goldfinch Level: $500-$999
  • Cardinal Level: $1,000-$2,499
  • Sandhill Crane Level: $2,500-$4,999
  • Trumpeter Swan Level: $5,000-$9,999
  • Bald Eagle Level: $10,000 and higher.

All donations under $250 will be recognized in "The Prairie Country Quarterly," our quarterly newsletter. Donations above that amount will also be recognized at the center itself. A variety of naming opportunities will also be available for larger donations.

Fundraising will continue throughout 2020. We have completed preliminary dirt work, installed the septic system, and plan to let construction bids this summer, with actual construction beginning in the fall. If all goes as expected, we then hope to be holding our Grand Opening early in 2021!

Winnebago County Conservation Environmental Education Center Draft


If you would like to help us with this exciting project, you can use this Pledge Form and send your donations to:

The Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation, Inc.
34496 110th Avenue
Forest City, IA 50436.

You can also donate via credit card, debit card, or Pay Pal.

Our Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible. If you have questions about this project, or if you would like to make an especially large donation, please feel free to call and talk to us at 641-565-3390.

Thank you!

Do you shop on Amazon?

If so, you can help out our Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation!

Just click here and you can designate us as your preferred charitable organization! Then, each time you shop, go to smile.amazon.com and .5% of your qualified purchases will be donated to our foundation. It's an easy way to donate, and it doesn't cost you anything! For more information about AmazonSmile, click here.

Be sure to check it out. And, thank you!

Available on Amazon Smile

Treat yourself to a relaxing stay at the Lake Catherine Cabin!

Please Note:
For (Covid) safety reasons, we have removed all the kitchen utensils from the cabin, including pots, pans, dishes, cooking utensils, silverware, etc. Please bring along your own kitchen supplies. All kitchen appliances (refrigerator, stove, toaster, coffee maker, microwave) will still be available for use.

The checkout time at the cabin is now 11:00 AM instead of noon. This will allow us extra time to clean the cabin between guests. Check-in time will still be 3:00 PM, but it will be strictly enforced to allow for the extra cleaning.

Please remember, as always, you will still need to bring your own bedding and towels. We look forward to seeing you!

For more information about the cabin, you can download the following items:

Cabin rates are $61.00/weeknight and $77.00/Friday and Saturday nights. (These rates include sales tax and Iowa hotel/motel tax.) To reserve the cabin, please let us know the dates using our reservation button below. Then, fill out the rental agreement above and return it to us either through the mail or electronically. Finally, send your payment in (including a separate $200 deposit check). Let us know if you have any questions!


Reserve Cabin Now
Reserve Cabin Now

We will contact you to confirm your reservation. Thank you!

Check the calendar to the left
to see which dates
are available.

Green dates are available.
Red dates are not available.
Orange dates are not available, either.
(Orange dates are for deep cleaning
before and after reservations.) 

A two-night minimum stay is required on weekends.
Thank you!



Join us as our new book club meets over Zoom to discuss Aldo Leopold’s classic book, “A Sand County Almanac!” The club will meet at 10:00 AM on Saturday morning, February 27th, to discuss the book. If you’re not able to obtain a copy of the book, we will loan you one to read.

Come learn about the winter nighttime sky during our Virtual Winter Stargazing program at 7:00 PM on 1/15! Using an online interactive star chart and various illustrations, we’ll discuss the stars, constellations, and a very bright planet that you can see this time of year!

This is a friendly reminder that shooting at the Hogsback Target Shooting Range ends at sundown. Also, please remember that the range can be closed down at any time if people do not follow the posted rules. We hope that people continue to enjoy the range, but do it safely!

Be sure to check out the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction this evening! Look to the southwest about an hour after sunset and you'll see the two largest planets in our solar system appear closer together than they have since 1623! So, don't miss it! https://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-great-conjunction-of-jupiter-and-saturn

Some bird in Iowa are irrupting! Don't know what that means? This article will help you understand what's happening. And, if you haven't noticed these birds at your feeders, keep your eyes open; you may spot them yet!

Just a reminder...Thorpe Park is closed to all deer hunting.

The adjacent Thorpe Recreation Area and Russ Wildlife Area are both open to deer hunting, but Thorpe Park itself is not.

If you have questions about the boundaries, please contact the WCCB. Thank you!

Don't forget that you can help raise money for our Friends Foundation (and our new nature center!) by doing your Amazon shopping at http://smile.amazon.com and designating The Friends of Winnebago County Conservation Foundation as your charity. Best of all, it costs you nothing!

Now is the time to begin planning for next year! Over the winter months, you can research which native trees you'd like to plant in the spring. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90LR-YjuJPs&feature=emb_title

Our county conservation areas are wonderful places to hunt this Fall! This young man recently enjoyed a successful duck hunt at the Thorpe Recreation Area west of Forest City.

Our Virtual Fall Hike is now available on our You Tube Channel! We hope you enjoy it! https://youtu.be/smoHkOCHKZU

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