Clayton County Conservation - Good news in 2016 annual report
By Pam Reinig
The number of people using county camping sites topped 1,500 last year, an increase of 5 percent over 2015. Clayton County Conservation Director Jenna Pollock said the increase is especially impressive given the fact that some parks were closed multiple weeks and weekends due to last summer’s flooding. Total revenues from camping totaled more than $10,300, all of which was redirected back into the county’s budget and will be used for maintenance and development needs.
Bloody Run Park near McGregor had the most camping traffic in 2016 with 945 users who stayed 693 nights and accounted for over $7,000 in fees.
Camping numbers were only part of the good news that Pollock shared during a presentation last week to the Clayton County Board of Supervisors. She also noted that over $135,000 in grants and over $10,000 in donations was secured in calendar year 2016.
Also strong were visitor numbers for the year, though these figures are more difficult to calculate than camping nights and donations. The county’s biggest attraction in terms of visitors is the Osborne Conservation Center.
“It’s difficult to obtain the exact number of visitors to Osborne because of the layout of the park,” Pollock said, adding that the numbers used in the annual report came from visitors who signed the voluntary registration book in the Iowa Welcome Center.
For the last fiscal year, over 5,600 people from 68 Iowa counties, 37 states and 10 countries signed in at the Welcome Center. Another 1,054 registered at Motor Mill. In addition, nearly 13,000 people participated in one of the 702 public programs led by Clayton County Naturalists and Osborne staff. Of that number, over 10,400 were youth.
“The EE (Environmental Education) program in Clayton County continues to connect our area youth with a quality environmental education. While many think of Clayton as a rural county, fewer youth are experiencing those first-hand lessons working with the environment that a small family farm has provided to previous generations.”
Pollock also reported impressive website numbers: over 90,000 unique visitors to the Clayton County Conservation site and another 8,600 to the Motor Mill site. “Unique visitors” refers to the number of individuals visiting a site, regardless of the number of times they visit. A person who visits 10 times, for example, is counted as one unique visitor. Therefore, nearly 100,000 individuals last year viewed the two sites.
Finally, Pollock shared impressive numbers on volunteer hours. More than 200 people donated a total of 3,130 volunteer hours. Another 98 people gave over 930 hours to Heritage Days while 44 people volunteered 1,419 hours at Motor Mill.
“Collaboration with area educators, new science standards, engaged youth, dedicated volunteers and our enthusiastic staff make our program a success.”
In 2017, the Clayton County Conservation Board will begin updating their five-year plan. A kickoff meeting that outlines the process will take place at the February 14th Board meeting. The Conservation Board will be seeking public feedback throughout the plan update process to better serve county residents.