WelcomeWelcome 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!
Read the latest edition of "The Prairie Country Quarterly" here.
The Lake Catherine Cabin is Now Open!
We have reopened the Lake Catherine Cabin at Thorpe Park, with a couple changes...
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.
If you have any questions about the cabin, feel free to contact us.
If you'd like to make a reservation, please check out the availability calendar below.
You can also reserve your dates with the "Reserve Now" button.
We look forward to seeing you!
Covid-19 Updates for Winnebago County Parks
The WCCB campgrounds at Thorpe Park and Dahle Park are open with the following restrictions:
--Only odd-numbered sites will be available for camping. The open campsites, as well as the closed sites, will be marked accordingly.
--In accordance with state Covid rules, only 6 occupants per campsite will be allowed.
These restrictions will be enforced, will be reviewed periodically, and may be changed as conditions warrant.
The Florence Trap Shooting Range will be closed until further notice.
The Winnebago County Conservation Board office and shop buildings are closed to the public until further notice.
Winnebago County Conservation Board shelter houses, restrooms, and playground equipment are all open.
The Lake Catherine Cabin is open.
The kitchen utensils and cooking supplies have been removed, so please bring your own if you plan to cook in the cabin. As always, you will also need to bring your own bedding, towels, and bath soap.
The Hogsback Shooting Range remains open.
Please practice social distancing at the range and limit shooters to one person/shooting bench. Also, please shoot only at the targets. Vandalism has become an issue in recent weeks and the range will be closed if it continues.
All Winnebago County parks and wildlife areas are open!
So, we encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy some birdwatching, fishing, or a quiet walk.
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.
--Use hand sanitizer often.
Our “Educating and Connecting Generations Naturally” Capital Campaign has topped the $1 million fundraising mark! Thanks to some nice grants and many private donations, we have now raised over 80% of our $1.2 million goal!
As a result, last fall, a septic system was installed at the site, there was preliminary site preparation, and the removal of a grove of trees. The grove consisted of “weedy” trees such as box elder, mulberry, and ash that are of minimal benefit to wildlife; they will eventually be replaced with trees and shrubs that will be more beneficial. Already this spring, we have completed dirt work at the site and native prairie grasses and flowers have been planted! The plan now is to let bids this summer so that actual construction can begin this fall. Hopefully, we'll then be able to celebrate a Grand Opening early in 2021!
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.
- 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 $1.2 and $1.3 million. The WCCB has already voted to commit $225,000 of non-tax dollars to the project. The rest will be raised through grants and private donations. We do not anticipate using any tax dollars for the construction of the center.
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!
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.
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!
Treat yourself to a relaxing stay at the Lake Catherine Cabin!
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:
- Lake Catherine Cabin Brochure
- Lake Catherine Cabin Rental Policy
- Lake Catherine Cabin Rental Agreement
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!
Check the calendar to the left
to see which dates
(Green dates are available,
red dates are not available.)
A two-night minimum stay is required on weekends.