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Lake and Park Holding Corp. to Donate $15,000 to protect Union Grove

June 15, 2012
Northern-Sun Print
Following a presentation by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation at the Union Grove potluck on Saturday, June 10th, the Board of Directors of Lake & Park Holding Corp. voted to donate a leadership gift of $15,000 over a three year period to help purchase and restore a site that’s essential to the lake’s water quality. “If you love Union Grove State Park and Union Grove Lake, you’ll want to be part of this effort to protect the lake,” said Bill Fey, president of the corporation. “Our board felt it was a very high priority, perhaps the most important thing we can do right now for the future of the lake.” Heather Jobst and Anita O’Gara, representatives of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, emphasized how fortunate the foundation was to have purchased the 116-acre Umphrey property north of the lake in March at public auction. This property filters 40% of Union Grove’s watershed. The highly erodible land, which had been in the Conservation Reserve program (CRP) and maintained as grassland with wetlands during the last decade, had been recently plowed for row crop cultivation. When in the CRP, its grassland prevented nearly all erosion from that portion of the watershed from entering the lake, according to INHF. In contrast, Jobst said, “If this land is row-cropped, the soil and nutrients that would enter the lake through this land would be devastating to the lake. Even if many other landowners elsewhere in the watershed voluntarily reduced their erosion, the lake would still fill with sediment and the nutrients that cause algae blooms and other problems. Eventually it would mean certain death to the lake.” New DNR Director Chuck Gipp was quoted as saying simply, “Either this property is permanently protected or the lake deteriorates.” Public funds are expected to cover 95% of the cost for this $695,000 project. The remaining $35,000 needs to come from donations.The commitment from Lake and Park Holding Corp. brings the project nearly half-way to that private fundraising goal. To participate, contact the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation at www.inhf.org or Anita @1-800-475-1846. Meanwhile the Foundation has taken steps to ensure that the grasses remain and the threat of soil erosion disappears. Plans call for a transfer of the land this fall to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, so that the agency can complete the restoration, manage the land for wildlife as well as water quality, and make it possible for the public to view wildlife, hunt and hike there. The private, non-profit INHF was formed to preserve sensitive lands and protect them for future generations. When asked how they fund the purchase of land, Anita O’Gara noted they have a large membership plus they receive donations of land and money from individuals, families, businesses and foundation across Iowa and beyond. “We’re very grateful for the leadership of the Lake and Park Holding Company on this project,” O’Gara said. “Their lead gift, plus their members’ individual commitments of time and funds, brings energy and momentum to this important project.” Volunteers hope to have a booth about the project at the Corn Carnival in Gladbrook later this month.

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