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 Summer, 2021, edition of our newsletter,
"The Prairie Country Quarterly," here.

Check out our Thorpe Park web cam here!

Three Deer Eating



Due to a family emergency,
the Summer Canoe Float at Thorpe Park
has been canceled.
We apologize and hope to reschedule it.


The shooting hours at the
Hogsback Shooting Range
are now from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM or sunset
(whichever is earlier).
Please abide by these hours out of respect
for the neighbors nearby.
Thank you!


We are still accepting donations for our Environmental Education Center!

Due to Covid cost increases, the bids for our nature center came in 30% higher than what we had anticipated. So, we are in the process of deciding our next step. We will definitely keep fundraising, but we may also downsize our project somewhat or change the building plan altogether. In any case, we will still need donations to help us continue to move forward! So, if you'd like to be a part of this project, it's not too late to help out. In fact, you can donate here on our web site! 

We want to thank all the donors who have already contributed so generously to this project and have helped us get this far. We are truly grateful for all the support we have received! We will keep everyone posted as the project moves along!

Environmental Education Center Capital Campaign

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

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 dates, use our reservation button. We will then email you the rental agreement which you will need to return to us either through the mail or electronically. To pay,  you can either send a check or you can include a credit/debit card number on your reservation form. (Convenience fees will apply for use of a credit/debit card). Your reservation isn't final until we receive your rental agreement and payment. Let us know if you have any questions!


Reserve Cabin Now
Reserve Cabin Now
Please include your city, state, and zipcode.

Please check the calendar to see which
dates are available
before making a reservation.

Green dates are available.
Red dates are not available.

  Please call 641-565-3390
   for same-day reservations.

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



Due to a family emergency, the Fall Canoe Float at Thorpe Park has been canceled. We apologize and hope to reschedule it. Thank you!

All of the Hogsback Target Shooting Range is now back open again after maintenance work was completed. Hours are 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM.

The handgun side of the Hogsback Shooting Range is once again open after maintenance work the last couple of days. On Monday, the rifle side will be closed for similar work. That work is only planned to take one day and it should be opened back up on Tuesday. Thank you!

The handgun side of the Hogsback Shooting Range will be closed for maintenance beginning Thursday morning. That part of the range should be available to use again by the weekend, but we will let you know for sure when it reopens. Thank you!

Come join us for some Monarch Tagging on Sunday! There will be a short presentation at the Thorpe Park shelter house at 1:00 PM, with tagging at 1:30 PM. The migration is off to a slow start, so if you can bring along your own Monarchs to tag, please do! We hope to see you there!

We want to thank the families that participated in our Animal Tracks and Signs Day Camp on Saturday! Hopefully, they will now be able to discover some of the exciting animals living around them!


If you're still interested in our Animal Tracks and Signs Day Camp, the deadline to register is 4:00 today. The camp will be held at Thorpe Park tomorrow morning from 9:00-Noon. It's open to any child 6-9 years old. Call 641-565-3390, or email lralls@winnebagoccb.com to register.

Don't forget about our Summer Stargazing Program Friday (8/13) at the Pilot Knob State Park Tower! To allow for social distancing, the program will be at the foot of the tower, rather than on top. It will begin at 9:30 PM and will last about 45 minutes. We hope to see you there!

If you know of a 6-9-year old child who likes animals, you might consider signing him or her up for our free Animal Tracks and Signs Day Camp! It will be held Saturday morning (8/14) at Thorpe Park from 9 AM-Noon. To register: call 641-565-3390 or email lralls@winnebagoccb.com.

American goldfinches almost exclusively eat seeds. Sunflower, thistle and aster are among their favorites - you may even be lucky enough to watch them pluck seeds straight from the plant! Have you seen any goldfinches lately? Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

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