Thursday, April 29, 2010

Celebrate Arbor Day on April 30, 2010

What is Arbor Day?
A formal Holiday to celebrate trees and all the wonderful things tree's provide us with.  It is also a day to encourage people of all ages to plant and care for trees.
The first Arbor Day was observed in 1872, in Nebraska.
But trees have been a part of literature and history as a symbol of life.
J. Sterling Morton a journalist in Nebraska encouraged everyone to set a side a special day to plant trees.
In 1872, the State Board of Agriculture accepted this idea and delcared April 10 as Arbor day.  They offered prizes to be give to the county or person(s) who correctly planted the biggest number of trees on that day.  Over one million trees were planted in Nebraska on their first Arbor Day.
By 1920 over 45 states and territories were celebrating Arbor Day.
Today it is celebrated in all fifty states.
At one time Arbor Day was moved to April 22, J. Sterling Morton's birthday.
Today April 22 is now known as Earth Day World Wide.
Today Arbor Day is celbrated on the last Friday in April in all fifty states and Puerto Rico and some U.S. territories.  This year the last Friday in April is April 30, 2010!
To learn more about Arobr Day check out the Arbor Day Foundations web page:

Happy Arbor Day!!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lots of Dirt Turning Fun at the Horse Plowing Event at the Maze Maize

A fun time was had by all who visit, watched, plowed and more on April 17, 2010 at the Maize Maze site located within the Gilbertson Conservation Educaiton Area.

There were 8 teams who came to plow the maze field.  At just over 4 acres total to plow the teams had a fun work out turning the black soil.

Many came out to see and even try their hand with the help of the owner at driving a team as they plowed the fields.  A good time was had by all.  Thank you to everyone one who plowed and who came to watch and learn.


REC to Sponsor "Electrifying" Maize Maze

Treat your family to some "electryfying" fun this summer at the 2010 Country Heritage Community Maize Maze.  This year's maze is sponsored by Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative.

The maze pattern is based on Compact Florescent Lighting (CFL) Charlie, the energy efficiency mascot for all Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.  Harold Waterman, a grafic design student at Upper Iowa University, is the 2010 maze designer.  In addition to learning about electritcy and energy efficiency, visitors to the maze will have opportunty to pick popcorn and Indian corn, visit the nearby nature center, petting zoo, farm and home antiques museum and an old time farm hosue.

Country Heritage Community (CHC's) Maize Maze is located at the Gilbertson Conservation Education Area, just east of Elgin on Agate Road or County B64. Last year over 3,000 people visited the site including families, school and church groups, young adults and visitors from other states.

The maze is open from July 17 to October 31, 2010. 
Hours are 1 - 5 PM Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and open by appointment any time, day or night. 
Admission is free for childeren under 5 years old; $4.00 for ages 5 - 11; and $6.00 for 12 and Up. 
Educational group rages are $3.00 per person with a minimum of 10 pople in the group. 
For a real adventure, try solving the maze at night (must be 18 or older). 
Contact Lavern Swenson fo rmore information and scheduling: cell 563-419-1133 or e-mail:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Explore Fayette County Conservation Board Recreational Area's!

The Fayette County Conservation Boards Recreation Area’s are open for the 2010 Season, the electricity where avaible is on, the water where avaible is on, and the entrances are open for you and your family to go explore, hike, camp, enjoy the spring flowers, singing songbirds and more.

The Recreational Areas that are open for all to explore are:

1. Wildwood Nature Center - 18673 Lane Road

A seven acre area located four miles north of fayette on State HWY 150, or Lincoln Road, then 1 mile west on County Road C14 or 190th Street and then left onto Lane Road. This area featuers a live animal and raptor exhibit. The nature center contains a variety of mounted native animals and birds. A staff naturalist is on hand to welcome visitors and field questions. Wildwood Nature Center is also the main office of the Fayette County Conservation Board, the location of the County Parks Program, and the Roadside Management Program. Public restrooms and drinking water are avaible at this location.

2. Twin Bridges Park - 13112 O Ave. and 14650 130 Street
A 17 ½ acre park located on County Road W 25 three miles north of Maynard at the confluence of the south and west branches of the Volga River. This park contains a shelter house, play ground, primitive camping area and pit toilets.

3. Gilbertson Conservation Education Area
Campground - 1810 Agate Road
Gilbertson Nature Center - 22580 A Ave
Located east of Elgin Iowa on county Road B 64 or Agate Road features a modern campground, primitive camping, horse camping, over 5 miles of trails to hike or ride on horse back or non-motorized bikes, fishing in the Turkey River or the Pond and one can come and explore the Petting Zoo, Nature Center, two historical Building, and the Maize Maze when they open for the season, watch this Blog for up dates on Opening dates and times.

4. Echo Valley State Park - 9672 Echo Valley Road & 9680 Echo Vally Road
A one hundred acre natural area that contains historical structures hand-build by the Civilian Conservation Corps such as a dam, keystone archway, lime kiln, and shelter house. The EVENT Trail and other hiking trails lead though this historical park. The park also provides visitors with picnicking areas, primitive camping, and trout fishing in two streams.

4. Glovers Creek Fishing and Wildlife Area
A 187 acre area next to Echo Valley State Park that is accessible though the Glover’s Creek side of Echo Valley. This area is open for public fishing and hunting. Both park entrances are located two miles east of West Union north of State Highway 56.

5. Goeken Park - 28191 Lincoln Road / State Hwy. 150
Is 5 miles north of West Union on U.S. Highway 150. It is a 6 ½ acre road side park. It has a wonderful panoramic view of many miles of the Turkey River Valley. The park also features one electrical hook up camping site, many non-electric sites, two shelter houses, a playground, pit toilets and water when it is turned on.

6. Gouldsburg Park - 18649 Sunset Road
Located 5 miles north of Hawkeye or 3 miles north of the intersection of U.S. HWY 18 and county Road W14 or Rose Road, the turn onto Sunset Road and follow until you come to the park on your left side. This park is a 64 acre area at the confluence of the Little Turkey River and Crane Creek. These water ways provide good fishing, tubing and canoeing. The park has a modern campground with dump station, showers, flush toilets, and electrical hook ups. The park also has pit toilets, primitive camp sites, a playground, shelter house and hiking trails.

7. Thelman Wildlife Area
A 310 acre public hunting area featuring grass plantings, a wetland, timber area, and crop ground for wildlife. Located just of State HWY 18 on County Road V68 or W Ave.

8. Dutton’s Cave Park
Campground - 25218 Iornwood Road
Shelter House Access - 9082 35th Street
Located 2 ½ miles northeast of West Union on U.S. HWY 18, and ½ mile north on Ironwood Road is a 46 acre heavily timbered, deep ravine ending in a wall directly above the cave opening. This park contains two electrical hook up sites, several non-electrical sites, shelter house, hiking trail, water when on, pit toilets, and a playground. It is a great park to see spring wildflowers and hear song birds in the early morning.

9. Downing Park - 23008 78th Street 
Located 2 miles north of State HWY 3, turn going north onto V 68 or W Ave. This quiet 40 acre park offers a shelter house, playground and pit toilets. It is a great bird watching park.

10. Valley Canoe Access - 3306 Diamond Road
A 3 acre area that features access to the Turkey River and a beautiful native prairie planting.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gouldsburg Park Open for the 2010 Season

Gouldsburg Park is Officially Open for the 2010 Season.
The Bathhouse is open and the Electricity is on.

Located 3 miles north of the intersection of U.S. HWY 18 or 230th Street and county Road W14 or Rose Road. Turn onto Sunset Road and follows until you come to the park on your left side (18649 Sunset Road)

Gouldsburg Park consists of 64 acres at the confluence of the Little Turkey River and Crane Creek. These water ways provide good fishing, tubing and canoeing.

The topography is rolling to hilly with desirable picnicking areas.

The park features a modern campground with dump station, showers, flush toilets, and electrical hook ups.

The park also has pit toilets, primitive camp sites, a playground, shelter house and hiking trails.

This park also features an historic mill stone that was once inside of the Gouldsburg Mill build in 1860/70’s.  Because of the chinch bugs that destroyed the wheat crop the mill closed in 1881.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Evening Chorur" - Frogs & Toads

With spring here an evening chorus is starting to sing as water’s warm and sleeping frogs and toads awake.

They sing to find a mate, they sing to let us know rain is coming and they sing to warn of danger near by. But in the spring their main reason for singing is to mate.

The Field Guided to Iowa Reptiles and Amphibians has great information about all of the Frogs, Toads, Salamanders Snakes, Turtles and Lizards that live in Iowa.

If you click on the Frogs and Toads section you will get to learn about all the different species that can be found in Iowa. Now not all can be found in Northeast Iowa but many of them can be. You will get to see pictures of the frogs and toads and some even have a video you can see and hear them crocking.

If you really want to have fun with frogs and toads and have some extra time on your hands, love to stay up late or get up early than the Iowa DNR is looking for you! You could join the ranks of the Iowa Frog and Toad survey people. To find out more check out this link:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Horse Plowing at the Maize Maze Fields

Saturday, April 17, 2010
Rain Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Gilbertson Conservation Education Area

Go East out of Elgin on Agate Road or County Road B64 then turn onto A Ave. and you will soon see the Gilbertson Nature Center on you right and the Maize Maze site on your left.

The State Line Plowing Association of Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa, plus others will once again plow the Maize Maze Fields with their horses, Mules, and Plows.

For the last 5 years they have come to help tell the story how our ancestors plowed the fields and in doing so preserving our agricultural history.

So grab you camera, some shoes you can get dirty and join in the fun of some old fashion plowing.

For more information contact: Laverne Swenson at 563-419-1133 or e-mail: