Conservation Board celebrates 50 years of service

Conservation Board Celebrates 50 years of service to the citizens of Jefferson County
On November 7th of 1972 the citizens of Jefferson County voted to establish a local conservation board to develop parks and recreation areas. Look for our upcoming articles and throwback pictures to commemorate the development of our parks and a few of the individuals who’s contributions helped make it happen.
The origin of Iowa’s county conservation system started back in 1934 when a group of people, which included renowned conservationists such as Ding Darling and Aldo Leopold, developed a plan that would provide outdoor recreational opportunities to local county residents.
From this idea, the first attempt was made in 1942 to pass enabling legislation. It wasn’t until 1955 that the county conservation law passed in the general session. Since then, all 99 counties in Iowa have established a county conservation program.
Jefferson County voted into existence their county conservation board program in 1972. Conservation Board members appointed by the County Supervisor to serve over the past 50 years have included Wayne Parsons, Gene Parker, Bill Briggs, Dean Johnson, Norman Baird, Carl Zillman, Bill Baker, Terri Diers, Ron Myers, Keith Wells, Kathy Tollenaere, Cory Klehm, Wayne Atwood, Gavin Stever, and Molly Mosinski.
Four Directors have been employed by the Board over the last 50 years: Joan Sturdavent (1973-76), Jim Bashor (1977-83), Dennis Lewiston (1983-2019), Shawn Morrissey (2019-present).
According to Chapter 350 (originally Chapter 111A) the purpose of county conservation boards is “to acquire, develop, maintain and make available to the inhabitants of the county public museums, parks, preserves, parkways, playgrounds, recreational centers, county forests, wildlife and other conservation areas and to promote and preserve the health and general welfare of the people, to encourage the orderly development and conservation of natural resources and to cultivate good citizenship by providing adequate programs of public recreation.”
The purpose established for county conservation boards is extremely broad; therefore, allowing each county to establish a program that meets the needs of the local public.
Since its inception, the Jefferson County Conservation Board has acquired and developed 12 areas encompassing just over 1400 acres. Also, in that time it has provided environmental education programs for multiple generations of school kids as well as numerous other public programs.
Thanks to the past and present board members for their dedication and countless hours of donated time to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to Jefferson County residents. Also, thanks to the County Board of Supervisors for their overall support in establishing these recreation areas. And last but not least, thanks to the citizens of Jefferson County who have endorsed and supported this conservation effort and have helped make the program a success.
Written by Shawn Morrissey