The history of Iowa's county conservation system
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's History
Jefferson County voted into existence their county conservation board program in 1972. Board members that have been appointed by the County Supervisors and have served on the Jefferson County Conservation Board include Wayne Parsons (photo right), Gene Parker, Bill Briggs, Dean Johnson, Norman Baird, Carl Zillman, Bill Baker, Terri Diers, Ron Meyers, Keith Wells, Kathy Tollenaere, Cory Klehm and Wayne Atwood.
Three directors have been employed by the Board in the last thirty years: Joan Sturdavent (1973 - 76), Jim Bashor (1977 - 83) and Dennis Lewiston (1983 - present).
The Purpose of County Conservation Boards
According to Chapter 350 (originally Chapter 111 A) 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 11 areas encompassing approximately 1363 acres.
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