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Dallas County Conservation Board
News & Events

For more information see the recent Dallas County Conservation Board Raccoon River Greenbelt Newsletter:
Winter Solstice Edition 2019/2020

IOWA TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION APPROVES FUNDING FOR FEDERAL RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM
The Iowa Transportation Commission recently approved $1,383,485 for five trail projects throughout the state. Dallas County Conservation Board was awarded $328,175 for the High Trestle Trail extension to the Raccoon River Valley Trail. Full story
here.  

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Awards $1 Million in Iowa Great Places Grants
The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded $1 million for five Iowa Great Places projects in Adel and Redfield, Clinton, Guttenberg, Marion, and Winterset. The funding supports the development of new and existing community-based infrastructure projects that cultivate the unique and authentic qualities of neighborhoods, communities and regions in Iowa. The Iowa Great Places Citizen Advisory Board approved the grants during its meeting last month in Des Moines. Statewide, five grants totaling $1 million were awarded in response to 11 eligible applicants requesting nearly $2.9 million. Funding for the Raccoon River Valley Trail was secured for the addition of two public art pieces in the towns of Adel and Redfield, plus artistic lighting on a railroad bridge in Adel to build upon the previous work to create a “Cultural Trail District” along the Raccoon River Valley Trail. The $39,000 in funding was awarded to the Adel Partners Chamber of Commerce. The full Department of Cultural Affairs press release can be read here

Leopold Benches & Quotes
As a part of the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of Aldo Leopold's "A Sand County Almanac" Eagle Scout Josh Nelson constructed a number of Leopold style benches. These will be available for sponsorship at the $40 level. Leopold quotes can be inscribe in the benches. A list of quotes can be found here, or you can supply your own quote conservation quote from Leopold. 

January 2020

Winter Star Gazing, Constellations, and Stories
Saturday, January 25, 7:00 p.m.—8:30 p.m.
Kuehn Conservation Area, Earlham
Preregistration is required for this free program.

One of the tragedies of our culture is that winter, and sunsets, send us indoors where we are insulated by a roof from the wonders of the night skies. Earlier cultures of our place did not suffer from these maladies. Each sunset, was an invitation to look up, and wonder. The Paiute peoples had a phrase, spoken at nightfall, as they turned their gaze, not to Netflix or Fortnite, but to the heavens. This phrase, “Tu Omp I Av, Tu Weep”, translates to–the sky is beautiful, just as the earth. Join us to explore the wonders of the night skies, and in the process we hope that you will be reminded of the wonders underfoot here in the wilds of Dallas County.

The Year of the Volunteer @ DCCB
Sunday, January 26, 1:00 p.m.—3:00 p.m.
Forest Park Museum, Perry 
Preregistration is required for this free program.
You and your friends and neighbors are invited to an interactive introduction to the diverse volunteer opportunities for you to help DCCB out. If you are reading this, there is a good chance that you enjoy time in the outdoors. At some point you’ve likely wondered, “Is there something that I can do to help?” The answer is yes! Dallas County Conservation Board is making an intentional effort to encourage people like you to engage in meaningful volunteer work in 2020. 

Some projects will be seasonal and short-lived, while others will be on-going and at the leisure of individual volunteers. Like all the volunteers that worked so hard to “wake up the prairie” at Kuehn Conservation Area, we are hoping to reconnect with our purpose as caretakers and give back to the land. Our hope is to have a group of committed people, reconnecting with the outdoors and giving back to the land.

Examples of projects include:
Seed Collection
Bird Boxes & Wildlife Monitoring
Trail Clean-ups
Educational & Museum Programs
Office Tasks
Habitat Work

February 2020

Owl Prowl
Sunday, February 9, 6:30 p.m.—7:30 p.m. 
Kuehn Conservation Area, Earlham

Preregistration is required for this free program.
Back in January, at our Conversation with an Owl program, you came to know the owls of Dallas County. At this program, we will walk out into the full moon night, on the snowy trails of Kuehn’s woodland trails, to talk with our local owls. Around a bonfire we will review the common owls of Kuehn and their calls. Armed with this knowledge, we will cast our best Dr. Doolittle renditions of the owls’ calls into the night, with hopes of having a wild friend answer our queries.

Trumpeter Swan Soiree

rescheduled from January 18
Saturday, February 15, 11:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Walnut Woods State Park
Free, no registration required.

Both outdoor viewing and indoor interpretive presentations of trumpeter swans and bald eagles are given by Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Polk and Dallas County Conservation naturalists. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be provided. Hundreds of trumpeter swans winter at the Dale Maffitt Reservoir and surrounding area southwest of Des Moines, providing a rare opportunity to view good numbers of free flying trumpeter swans. More information on Facebook

Winter Star Gazing, Constellations, Patterns & Rhythms
Friday, February 21, 7:00 p.m.—8:30 p.m.
Kuehn Conservation Area, Earlham
Preregistration is required for this free program.

Earlier in the winter, we invited you to look up, seek the beauty of the night skies, in the words of the Paiute, “Tu Omp I Av”. By scheduling this second opportunity to venture out under the stars with us, we hope to engage you in a search for patterns, rhythms, cycles in the sky. How has the view changed since we last looked up together? By connecting with these rhythms, and also connecting to the notion of “Tu Weep”, recognizing the beauty and rhythms here around us beneath our feet, we hope will enrich your place here in Dallas County. 

RACCOON RIVER VALLEY TRAIL ANNUAL BANQUET
February 22, 2020, Social Hour 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. with Dinner 5:30 p.m.
Country Lane Lodge 29300 Prospect Circle, Adel
Price per plate: $50
Price for a reserved table for 8: $500
Tickets available on the RRVTA webpage
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for the event, please contact Mike Wallace 
at raccoonrivervalleytrailassociation@dallascountyiowa.gov


Templeton Rye Whiskey co-founder Keith Kerkhoff will headline the annual Raccoon River Valley Trail Association Banquet. Cocktails, exhibits and auction items will be available in the late afternoon, with a full banquet meal, featured speaker and fundraising auction to follow. The banquet is the biggest annual fundraiser for the RRVT Association, the non-profit organization that markets and promotes the 89-mile paved trail in west central Iowa.

Eagle Watch
Sunday, February 23, 12:00 p.m.—4:00 p.m. 
@ Saylorville Reservoir

At one point the idea that we would offer a program of bald eagle viewing would have seemed absurd in the face of the species’ pending extinction. This event is a testament that conservation can and does work. Come view what is possible when we choose to care for the wilds. The open waters below the dam at the Saylorville Reservoir create feeding opportunities that congregate central Iowa’s winter eagles and almost guarantee you a chance to view an eagle. This program is a joint effort between DCCB, Polk County Conservation and the Corps of Engineers. It provides the public with the thrill of viewing eagles in the Des Moines River Valley and educational programming to increase your understanding of these majestic birds. Specific viewing locations and programming schedules can be obtained at the Saylorville Visitor Center on the day of the event.

March 2020

Spring Equinox– Sunset Celebration
Friday, March 20, 6:30 p.m.—8:00 p.m.
Hanging Rock, Redfield
Preregistration is required for this free program.

Where did the sun rise this morning? The seemingly straight forward answer to this question is of course– East. Realize, this answer is correct only two days out of the year, and the Spring Equinox is one of this dates. Between the equinox, and the solstice date in June, the sun rise will have moved across the eastern horizon some 33 degrees to the north. Why is this question relevant? If you feel the need to slow down the pace of your life and connect the meter of your life not to a piece of machinery– but to the celestial waltz of the Earth and Sun, join us. DCCB has constructed an astronomical clock– built of stones, reconstructing one placed here by First Nation Peoples long before Redfield and Hanging Rock were names on the landscape. Join us for a history lesson of time, a new connection to your place and a celebration of spring’s arrival. 

Voas Stewardship Day
Saturday, March 21, 9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m.
@ Voas Nature Area, Minburn
Registration is required for this free program.

Have you ever asked yourself if there was a good way to help wildlife? Not just temporarily picking up trash but something that had a long lasting impact. DCCB  holds stewardship days throughout the year. One focus for the last few seasons has been clearing oak savanna habitat that has been overgrown at Voas Nature Area, and this stewardship day will expand this work clearing the understory at this site. We will be using handsaws and loppers to clear honeysuckle, dogwood, and small trees. Come help us liberate these smothered “wolf” oaks.

 

Pop Up Programs

Animal Feedings
Most Mondays, 10:00 a.m. 
Forest Park Museum

Free but call ahead to confirm
Join us for a chance to see our snake collection eat their tasty weekly meal and learn about the other Dallas County critters in our live collection. These underappreciated critters play important roles in our ecosystems and have some “superpowers” to share.

When it Snows We Ski!
Voas Nature Area 
Select weekends and school holidays throughout the winter, if there are 4 or more inches of snow on the ground and a naturalist is available, we will host a ski program. We have boots and skis for people with shoe sizes ranging from youth 12—1 on up to adult sizes 10.5. The specific dates and times will vary. You can call or email to put your name on a contact list for notification of dates, look for updates on our Facebook or contact us on a Friday before a weekend that looks likely. We hope to see you on skis! Cost is $3.00 per person for ski rental. 

2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge
(throughout the year)

Dallas County citizens may be surprised at the number of different bird species that exist within the area. We have diverse habitats and unique geographic features that are attractive to many varieties of birds. In an effort to educate the public, DCCB staff would like to partner with Dallas County citizens to document as many different kinds of birds within the county for the year 2019. In the birding community this is known as a Big Year.

What: A Big Year is a fun, informal competition to document the birds in Dallas County for one year.

Who: Anyone living in /visiting Dallas County including beginner or novice birders. Children welcome.
Where: Within the borders of Dallas County. Counting a bird just over the county line is poaching.
When: DCCB staff will have scheduled birding events every 3 months. We will also be documenting during non-birding events with the public like river floats. In addition we have several annual birding events like the High Trestle Hawk Watch and Christmas Bird Counts that will be included. If something out of the ordinary shows up we will have a pop-up program (sign-up to be notified).
Why: To stimulate the senses and feed the soul! Birds have beautiful coloration, euphonic songs and interesting behaviors. DCCB staff would like to create awareness in the community regarding these jewels that inhabit our landscape.

DCCB has a goal of finding 100 different bird species for 2019. We will continue to post and update our Big Year list on our website and Facebook pages. Our first field event will be March 30th at Voas Nature Area near Minburn. Some binoculars and field guides will be available. Please register for these free programs.

 

2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge Highlights

Winter arrivals are showing up in increasing numbers. Swans have been reported from numerous locations around the county. A shrike was spotted on the eastern end of Voas Nature Area. The snowflakes are starting to fall, perhaps a Snowy Owl will also drift into the region this winter. 

2019 Big Year Species List

 

 

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