Conservation touts past year's accomplishments

Board finalizing 10-year plan


LEE COUNTY – The Lee County Conservation district is celebrating a year of large accomplishments, but also gazing toward the future.
At an annual report to Lee County Supervisors Monday, LCC Director Heather Huebner talked up the accomplishments over the past fiscal year and what the board is looking forward to in the future.
She said they have finished the Places to Play campaign that was started under former Director Nathan Unsworth so they are finished with playgrounds for the time being.
But she said the other major accomplishment was finishing the Pollmiller Trail rehabilitation project.
She also wants to show off the new trail with an event possibly this fall. Seeding is still being done and the conservation district is looking at doing a Halloween-themed run on the new trail.
“We’re almost through to completion on that project,” she said. “And we haven’t put out a press release or anything yet, but we are working with the high school to put on some type of Zombie Apocalypse run out there in the future.”
Supervisor Ron Fedler, who lives in West Point and represents that district in the county, said people are already taking notice of the improvements.
“A lot of people have already complimented how nice that is,” Fedler said.
Huebner said she just finished a walkthrough with Jones Contracting and is happy with the work, including the widening of the trail.
The county also witnessed an increase in camping in 2023, due to a number of reasons including additional concrete pads and upgraded playground equipment.
Information through social media has also seen an uptick over the past year. Huebner said followers are up at 20% across the district’s social media channels. Investments in property and people are also on the rise.
“We continue to increase our public footprint. We have increased followers on Facebook and social media, and we’ve added a few events. We’ve sent our ranger to the academy, so we are investing in our people and that is starting to show,” Huebner said.
The district’s environmental team is heavily engaged in all four school districts in the county as well as field trips around the county. Huebner said more than 70 students come out each week for mussel field trips.
“That schedule is completely full and it’s a good problem to have, but they may even have to pull back a little bit,” she said.
Expenses for the year were down due to the trail project not being completed and a piece of equipment not getting purchased before the end of the fiscal year, but those costs will be realized in this fiscal year, so the expenses didn’t disappear.
The board is in the middle of finalizing a 10-year strategic plan after touring all the county conservation properties. They have had several workshops around the plan and are close to approving it.
“That will provide a nice living document for our staff as we plan projects,” Huebner said.
Revenue from county parks and associated rentals, admissions and sales has increased from $57,000 in fiscal year 2014 and 2023, a period of 10 years, has increased to $155,500 almost 300%. Chatfield Campground has experienced growth closer to 500% over the same time frame.
Supervisor Chairman Garry Seyb said even he’s been surprised at the attraction the park has garnered over the past several years.
“I’m hearing a lot of great things about conservation, especially about camping,” Seyb said.
“These facilities are what’s going to draw people in. We camp down in Missouri and we’re hearing about Lee County in our banter back and forth. They said we’ve got nice camping in Wilson Lake and they talked about Chatfield.”
Huebner said she saw at the beginning of the spring that Chatfield was selling out before Wilson Lake.
“That’s unheard of. So that really makes us proud,” Huebner said. “It goes to the ‘If you build it, they will come’ mentality.”

Lee County Conservation, accomplishments, 2023, parks, camping, budgets, Pen city Current, news, supervisors, Board, update, Chatfield, Wilson Lake,


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