January 2023 Department UpdatesHere's your monthly update about what's been happening lately at Des Moines County Conservation.
Chris Lee, Executive Director
Welcome Ron Helling to the Conservation Board
In January, Ron Helling from West Burlington joined the Des Moines County Conservation Board. He replaces Bob Hansen whose first five-year term on the board expired at the end of 2022. Conservation Board members are appointed by the County Board of Supervisors and serve five-year terms.
Ron is an avid fisherman, having held leadership roles with the Southeast Iowa Bassmasters and Iowa Bass Federation organizations. He is a regular visitor to Big Hollow and serves on the Executive Board for the Friends of Lake Geode.
Lots of tree and brush clearing taking place in county parks
If you've been to Starr's Cave Nature Center lately, you've probably noticed a lot of tree and brush clearing has taken place. DMCC crews have been busy removing invasive species such as bush honeysuckle and oriental bittersweet. The invasive species removal is often followed by some larger tree removal to thin the canopy and allow the remaining trees to grow better and also to allow sunlight to the ground to promote native species. And while it looks pretty rough while it's underway, it will greatly improve the forest health going forward. It's all being done as part of a forest management plan developed for the park.
Brush removal and forest management has been underway at some places both at Hunt Woods and Big Hollow this fall/winter. At Big Hollow, there will be also be a bunch of trees removed west of the RV campground to prepare for upcoming projects. These include adding new campsites and the addition of some sediment ponds in the drainages on either side of the primitive campground to improve water quality in the lake. Both projects are grant-funded.
The mature trees on these sites at Big Hollow need to be taken down before April in consideration of the endangered Indiana bat. Big Hollow is known to support Indiana bats so DMCC staff take care not to cut potential roost trees during the primary bat protection season which runs from April to October.
Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming projects.
Make campsite reservations now
It may not feel like camping weather, but spring will be here in a few short months. Already, we've seen a lot of campsite reservations come in for sites at Big Hollow so if you have dates on the calendar you know you'll want to camp, we recommend getting your reservations in now. By the time the weather warms, many weekends are already booked.
You can make your campsite reservations at MyCountyParks.com.
published Monday, January 9, 2023