INHF permanently protects East Okoboji Lake property

Posted on December 15, 2021 in Press Center


Willia Mueske, Chair of Dickinson County Conservation Board of Directors, Lee Sorenson, Executive Director of Dickinson County Conservation, and Joe McGovern, President of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, sign a conservation easement to permanently protect the site along East Okoboji Lake, ensuring that it will never be developed.


Contact: Joe Jayjack, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation communications director, at or 515-809-5679

INHF permanently protects East Okoboji Lake property

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) closed on a 50-acre property on the shores of East Okoboji Lake Monday and at the same time ensured it will permanently remain a natural area with the help of the Dickinson County Conservation (DCCB).

The preserve will be owned and managed by INHF — a private nonprofit conservation group that works to protect and restore Iowa’s land, water and wildlife — and will be available for public use beginning on June 11, 2022, when there will be an open house and celebration.

When INHF closed on the property on Monday, the organization also signed a conservation easement with DCCB, which will ensure that the land will never be developed and that its natural features will be protected in perpetuity.

“The Lakes community really stepped up to see this land protected, and we were thrilled to make that happen,” said INHF President Joe McGovern of the property, which is one of the last privately owned, undeveloped pieces of shoreline in the Iowa Great Lakes system. “This conservation easement ensures that this will always be a place for wildlife, scenic beauty and low-impact recreation.”

INHF closed on the property three months after the conclusion of a fundraising campaign that saw very generous donations come in from hundreds of individuals and organizations. Groups like the East Okoboji Lake Improvement Corporation (EOLIC), the Okoboji Protective Association, the Iowa Great Lakes Association and the Spirit Lake Protective Association and others helped to rally the community and raise funds for the project. Seller Tom Bedell and listing agent Eric Hoien were also instrumental in making sure the area was permanently protected.

INHF is developing a management plan that focuses on wildlife habitat, water quality and low-impact public use. Once it is open, the public can access the site from the trails at the adjacent Elinor Bedell State Park. There will be no hunting, trapping or camping allowed. Users will be able to hike near the shoreline or up to the ridge for views of East Okoboji Lake to the west and the Spring Run Wetland Complex to the east.

INHF plans to spend the winter and spring starting ecological restoration, taking out hazardous trees and removing interior fencing, which already began with help from volunteers from EOLIC. There will likely be more volunteers opportunities for members of the community in the near future.

The Dickinson County Water Quality Commission has also provided a $100,000 grant to EOLIC to work with INHF on shoreline restoration at the site.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit conservation group that works with to protect and restore Iowa's land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 185,000 acres of Iowa's natural resources and blazed the way for hundreds of miles of multi-use trails.

There are a number of natural and working lands around the lakes that are owned by INHF for wildlife and water quality purposes, but the East Okoboji Shoreline project will be the first to allow public access and encourage low-impact recreation.

Read more about INHF projects around the Lakes: