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 Updates for Winnebago County Parks

The WCCB campgrounds at Thorpe Park and Dahle Park have 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.

The Florence Trap Shooting Range will open on July 29th. (See the summer schedule to the right.)

The Winnebago County Conservation Board office and shop buildings are closed to the public until further notice.

The 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.
--Use hand sanitizer often.

Thank you!

South View of New Building

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.

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 $1.2 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!

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!



The Florence Trap Shooting Range is open! Public shooting dates will be: 7/29, 8/5, 8/12, 8/19, and 8/26, from 5:00-7:00 PM. Cost: $3/25 targets. Please bring your own gun, ammo, and eye/ear protection. Shooting will be supervised by a Safety Officer. We hope to see you there!

Both novice and experienced canoers will enjoy our Canoeing Lake Catherine class on 7/18 from 1-3 PM! Learn all about canoeing, then enjoy a leisurely paddle around Lake Catherine! All Covid safety protocols will be in place. Contact NIACC at 641-422-4358 to register. Cost-$15

We've had people ask whether it is safe to go geocaching during the Covid crisis. http://Geocaching.com has some wonderful tips on how to stay safe while enjoying this fun, outdoor activity! https://www.geocaching.com/blog/2020/05/ten-tips-for-safe-geocaching/?newsletter=BM

Did you know that more than 100,000 kinds of animals play a role in pollination? Pollinators include a wide variety of birds, bees, butterflies, beetles and even bats, just to name a few. These lesser long-nosed bats are the only pollinator for agave!

Please don't forget...Fireworks are not allowed in any park or wildlife area managed by the Winnebago County Conservation Board.

Thank you for respecting our parks, the wildlife that lives there, and our park users.

We had a very successful hatching season at Thorpe Park this Spring! Among the babies that were spotted were six cygnets, three turkey poults, and a nesting box full of baby hooded mergansers. Come visit the park and see what you can spot!


This week is National Pollinator Week! Pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and even some birds, are important members of our ecosystem. For instance, pollinators are responsible for one-third of all the food we eat, thereby contributing $20-$30 billion to the farm economy.

As of this weekend, we have opened up our restrooms, shelter houses, and playground equipment. Our office and shop buildings, though, are still closed to the public, and only the odd-numbered sites in our campgrounds are open.

Be sure to take advantage of Free Fishing Days on June 5th, 6th, and 7th! Iowans will not need a fishing license or a trout stamp to fish in Iowa this weekend. So, find a nice, socially-distanced spot on your favorite lake, pond, stream, or river and enjoy a relaxing weekend!

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