Winneshiek County Conservation reports growing numbers post-COVID

By Zach Jensen,

The Winneshiek County Conservation Board may have struggled a little during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Director Barb Schroeder told the Board of Supervisors Jan. 15 that numbers are climbing once again.

“We’re kind of coming back out of the pandemic,” Schroeder said to the supervisors, as she presented her annual report, “so folks are getting out, coming to programs more, and our programs are showing that.”

Schroeder said 2023 was especially productive in part because it was the county organization’s 65th anniversary. 

“We had a year-long celebration and had an extra effort of doing more programming,” Schroeder said. “We provide recreation and education opportunities to everyone in the county. Our programming is in every school district, every grade in every school district, every private school, assisted living and elder care, and we work with the public libraries — especially the summer reading programs.”

Schroeder said the biggest 2023 event was the Earth Day Festival at the Winneshiek County Fairgrounds, in which attendees filled the Community Building. The WCCB will be hosting that event again on April 20 this year. 

In the WCCB’s annual report, Schroeder shared that part of the WCCB’s mission is to provide public land management through the maintenance of parks, trails, wildlife areas, river access, campgrounds and trout streams. According to the information Schroeder shared, WCCB is responsible for 23 areas totaling 1,149 acres, including:

• (1) 28-acre lake

• (2) Campgrounds

• (2) Trout streams

• (2) Native Prairie Areas

• (3) Trails, in addition to the future Dry Run Trail

• (4) River access areas

• (4) Playgrounds

• (4) Wildlife areas, which provide habitat for federally-endangered Rusty Patch Bumble Bee

• (1) Historic two-story school building

Schroeder reported that 47 percent of last year’s Lake Meyer campers were Winneshiek County residents. Lake Meyer hosted a total of 404 campers in 2023 — 366 of which were from Iowa, 15 from Minnesota, eight from Wisconsin and 15 from other states. 

The county’s other campground is in Kendallville, which hosted 400 campers in 2023 — 294 of which were from Iowa, 73 from Minnesota, seven from Wisconsin and 27 from other states. Nine percent of Kendallville campers were from Winneshiek County in 2023. 

Schroeder also reported that numerous WCCB projects were completed in the last year, including: The restoration of the Sindelar Wildlife Access streambank, new tables and landscaping at Freeport Park, the remodeling and rewiring of the Lake Meyer Nature Center and more.

WCCB 2024 project list

Other Winneshiek County business

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