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!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest

Read the Spring, 2021, edition of our newsletter,
"The Prairie Country Quarterly," here.

Three Deer Eating


Check out our
Thorpe Park web cam!



The Florence Trap Shooting Range
is now open!



On Friday, May 14th, 38 employees from Winnebago Industries volunteered their time to help clean up Thorpe Park and the Winnebago River Water Trail! Workers at Thorpe Park picked up trash, trimmed trees, planted flowers, weed-whipped, cleaned out bluebird houses, and performed other maintenance work. Those that traveled down the river cleaned up trash, including a car wheel (still on its rim) and an old car battery.

The employees who volunteered at Thorpe Park were Eric Jones, Greg Hansen, Mike Berns, Rod White, Tim Dakken, Tom Schreiner, Bill Rout, Alex Schumaker, Dan Kesler, Mark Lamoureux, Kurt Faber, Pamela Divan, Rich Miller, Joni Miller, Tony Carter, Jon Gamerdinger, Curt Nygaard, Bob Ritter, Matt Haugen, Doug Fredrickson, Gabe Donbert, and Blake Hoover (pictured), as well as John Mills, John Bonczyk, Tony Stokka, and Brian Thoreson (not pictured).

Members of the river crew were Lee McInroy, Jeff Lewison, Jeff Hovinga, Jon Moritz, Russ Garfin, Paula Appel, Jacob Staines, Connie Theobald-Low, Deb Lund, Bonnie Boothroyd, Joe Liviero, and Stephen Bender.

We would like to thank all the volunteers from Winnebago who helped out that day. Their efforts definitely improved the park and the river, and the Board is very grateful for their dedication to these local natural areas and to the overall environment!






Beginning July 1st, shooting hours at the Hogsback Shooting Range will run from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM or sunset (whichever is earlier). Please be aware of this change and help us get the word out. 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 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. 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). Let us know if you have any questions!


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

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

Green dates are available.
Red dates are not available.

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



The second meeting of our online Book Club will convene on Saturday morning, June 26th, beginning at 10:00 AM! We will be discussing the classic book "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson. If you'd like to join us, just contact lralls@winnebagoccb.com to receive the Zoom link!

Two boxes of ammunition were left at the Hogsback Shooting Range, northwest of Lake Mills, earlier today. If you think these are yours, please call WCCB Director Robert Schwartz at 641-590-3054 to identify.

Seeing pocket gopher mounds? The DNR would like to know! https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/IACIO/bulletins/26e73e9

Kick off summer by going fishing for free! This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend here in Iowa. Iowa residents will not need a fishing license to fish in the state from now through Sunday. (All other regulations will be enforced.) So, grab a pole and enjoy the weekend

Please, please, please leave baby animals in the wild, where they belong! We are getting a lot of phone calls from well-meaning people that want to know what to do with the baby animal they've found. Baby animals are often left alone; that's normal for wild animals.

Despite rain and a low river, 38 workers from Winnebago volunteered on 5/14 to help clean up Thorpe Park and the Winnebago River! At Thorpe Park, they picked up litter, trimmed trees, planted flowers, weed-whipped, and cleaned out bluebird houses. The river crew cleaned up trash.

It's that time of year! Here is your annual reminder to please leave wild baby animals where they belong--in the wild. https://blog.nwf.org/2018/04/what-to-do-if-you-find-baby-wildlife/

Beginning July 1st, shooting hours at the Hogsback Shooting Range northwest of Lake Mills will be from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM or sunset (whichever is earlier). Please help us get the word out about this rule change. Thank you!

We still have a few Arrowwood, Serviceberry, and River Birch seedlings left over from our Spring Tree Giveaway yesterday! They are outside our office. If you'd like to pick up a few, be sure to bring along something to take them home in, in case no one is around to help you out.

The Florence Trap Shooting Range opens for the season on May 19th! (See the May/June shooting schedule below.) We hope to see you there!

Load More...