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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spend National Park Week Helping To Rebuild Tallgrass Prairie At Herbert Hoover National Historic Site

Submitted by Kurt Repanshek

If you're looking for a good, active way to celebrate National Park Week, head to Eastern Iowa and help  the folks at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site to rebuild an 81-acre tallgrass prairie.

Volunteers are needed on Saturday, April 23, to cut and haul shrubs and invasive weeds from the grassland. Anyone interested in helping may contact Adam Prato at (319) 643-7855 before the project date.

Volunteers will meet at the site's Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. for an orientation and to get signed up. Work in the prairie will be from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It's suggested that you dress for the weather and wear comfortable work clothes. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are recommended. Long pants and closed-toe footwear are required.

National Park Week (April 16-24, 2011) is the annual presidentially proclaimed week for celebration and recognition of your national parks, many of which are living examples of the best this nation has to offer—our magnificent natural landscapes and our varied yet interrelated heritage. Parks can provide recreational experiences, opportunities to learn and grow, and places of quiet refuge.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. Parking is limited so please allow extra time to find a parking space. For more information go to or call (319) 643-2541.

Audio Tour: Tallgrass Prairie (2:10)

Tallgrass prairie was part of the Iowa landscape that had almost vanished by the time Herbert Hoover’s grandparents moved here in 1854.
Download Audio File: heho-128-TALL-GRASS-PRAIRIE.mp3 (537 KB)
[Right-Click and Select "Save As"]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Iowa Parks - First 'Friends of State Parks' Summit

“If we are going to keep pace with our civilization, we must give the public an outlet in the great outdoors.” Louis Pammel 1862 – 1931

The Iowa Parks Foundation and IDNR's State Parks Bureau invite you to attend the first Friends of Iowa State Parks Summit
April 9, 2011
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
4343 George Flagg Parkway
Des Moines, Iowa 50321
The purpose of this meeting is to provide a forum for Friends of Iowa State Parks groups to come together and share their plans, projects, challenges and celebrate successes. This exchange will help to inspire all the Parks Friends Groups to find new methods to achieve our common goals. By working in a more collaborative manner we will be able to accomplish more for our great parks.

Display tables will be provided for groups to ‘show-off’ plans, projects and progress they have realized in your park.

Tentative Agenda
1. Welcome and Introductions—
3. Highlights from each Friends Group (go around the room and give each group an opportunity to explain their major projects)
4. How do you keep your group alive?
5. What about legal issues?

LUNCH (Provided) 1 hour to allow for informal individual discussions

6. Iowa Parks FoundationKent Sovern
introduce, vision, status, proposed role with Friends Groups
7. Value of—and—ways to communicate with local legislators for the betterment of state parks
8. Group discussion on benefits and interest in setting up communication channels among Friends Group – e-mail, website, future meetings, etc.
9. The day will finish with an evaluation to know what people would like to have included in another possible meeting.
10. Closing comments and thanks to all who attend

If you are interested in attending the Summit or want more information send an e-mail to Kent at

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Iowa Camping Kick-off and Reservations

Camping Kickoff Weekend May 6, 7 and 8

The calendar says early March, but spring is just around the corner. Camping kickoff weekend is a little over two months away.

Camping kickoff weekend is May 6, 7 and 8, in Iowa state parks, and has often been the first weekend trip for many campers.

"Camping kickoff weekend is our way of saying let's dust off the tent and camper and get back outside after a long winter and enjoy some camaraderie in a state park," said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau.
Campers can reserve a site for camping kickoff weekend using the new reservation system online. Campers will need to register with the system before reserving a site. Campers who have registered with Reserve America before can sign in under their existing account.

Camping kickoff weekend happens to also be a prime time for fishing, as many fish are active, close to shore and preparing to spawn.

"Early May is really a good time to spend in the parks because the bugs are typically not out yet, fishing is good and the surrounding park is going through its spring awakening," Szcodronski said.

"Iowans care deeply about their parks and we want campers to know that we are working hard to offer them the best experience and facilities that we can, with the resources we have available," he said.

"All season long, we will be encouraging our campers and other park users to help us to keep our expenses down by turning off lights and air conditioners when they are not needed and to pick up after themselves and only burn firewood in the fire rings," he said.

Camping Kickoff Weekend was started in 2003, as a way to encourage Iowa residents to spend time in their state parks.

Check out this introductory video on family camping, then visit the Iowa Parks Foundation facebook page to see all the videos in the series.