Winneshiek County acquires first public site in 25 years

Posted on July 21, 2017 in Blog

Winneshiek County acquires first public site in 25 years 

Searching for a way to protect their jointly-owned farm, the Neste family found Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Winneshiek County Conservation Board (WCCB) eager to purchase and preserve their 240-acre farm just outside Decorah.

The farm is composed of a mix of woodland, stream and tree plantings, and holds a critical segment vital to a future trail connection between the Prairie Farmer Trail, which stretches from Cresco to Calmar, and the Trout Run Trail in Decorah. The portion of the trail featuring Dry Run Creek will be one of the most scenic pieces of the route. 


“From the very beginning, from the county’s standpoint, it was such a critical part of the trail connection,” said Brian Fankhauser, INHF blufflands director. “Because of the natural beauty of that valley with the woodland, the oak savanna and the stream, we were eager to protect the area for future educational and recreational use.” 

Acquired in 2012, Neste Valley was transferred from INHF to the WCCB in late 2016, making it WCCB’s first public acquisition in more than 25 years. The majority of the site will eventually be open to the public for recreation and hunting opportunities, and a portion of the land may become the main headquarters and nature center of WCCB. Pheasants Forever, a state REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) grant and private donations helped fund the purchase.