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!
Read the latest edition of "The Prairie Country Quarterly" here.
All Winnebago County Conservation Board facilities will be closed to the public
until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.
This includes our office, shop, the Lake Catherine Cabin, shelter houses, campgrounds, and restrooms,
as well as all playground equipment.
But, all Winnebago County parks and wildlife areas will remain open!
So, we encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy some birdwatching or a quiet walk.
Of course, be sure to observe all social distancing rules while in our parks.
Please keep you distance, and allow others to keep theirs, as well.
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 prairie grass and flower seeds have been ordered. Hopefully, the area will be replanted by the end of April! 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!
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!
The Lake Catherine Cabin is closed until further notice due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
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.
Dirt work is completed at the site of our soon-to-be new Environmental Education Center! We've ordered a mixture of prairie grasses and flowers to seed the area and hope to have it planted next week!
If you have elementary-aged kids, PBS's Nature Cat has a wonderful collection of videos, reading materials, and projects to help teach them about nature. It's a fun and educational resource for younger kids!
Just a reminder...All Winnebago County Conservation Board facilities are closed to the public until further notice due to the Covid-19 outbreak. These include our Thorpe Park office and shop building, the Lake Catherine Cabin, our shelter houses, our campgrounds, and our outhouses and "porta potties," as well as our playground equipment.
THAT BEING SAID...THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE AREAS THEMSELVES REMAIN OPEN! So, feel free to come and enjoy the peace and relaxation of our county parks! But, please do so while exercising the proper social distancing protocol and being mindful of any other people that may be out. Just keep your distance and allow others to keep theirs, as well. Thank you!
If you're a teacher or a parent at home with your kids, the Raptor Resource Project has some wonderful lesson plans! These have been developed to use in conjunction with the Decorah eagle nest web cam, but can also be used independently.
If you need a break from all the virus news, take a few minutes to enjoy the Decorah eagle nest! Two chicks hatched out over the weekend and one egg is still yet to hatch. Sit back, relax, and watch the parents take care of the little ones as they grow up over the next couple months! www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/decorah-eagles/
The Minnesota Zoo has put together a wonderful, short presentation for older kids about the Grassland Biome. If you need a good, introductory science lesson for your kids at home, here it is!
A big shout out (and thank you) goes to the City of Rake for its generous $250 donation towards our new Environmental Education Center! We truly appreciate your generosity!
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” --Anne Frank
Are you trying to teach your kids a little science while they're at home? Well, the National Audubon Society's "Audubon for Kids" has some wonderful resources to help your kids learn about birds, including downloads, videos, games, and craft projects. Be sure to check it out!