WAVERLY, Iowa --- More than 140 acres of woodland at Ingawanis Adventure Base will be opened up for public use if funds are raised to purchase the property.
The Bremer County Conservation Board, with help from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, is launching a campaign to raise $560,000 for the project.
A public meeting is slated for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Waverly Civic Center to offer interested residents an update on the project and acquisition process.
"We are excited to make it a public area," said Frank Frederick, director of the conservation board.
The Winnebago Council of the Boy Scouts of America decided to sell part of Ingawanis near Waverly and its Marble Rock camp to comply with a Scout mandate requiring all camping operations be self-sustaining by 2013.
During discussions, many scouts and community members expressed a desire to see the essence of the land preserved. The area is a virtually undeveloped woodland, part of which sits along the Cedar River.
The Bremer County Conservation Board agreed to pursue the purchase of the property using donations and grants. Ownership of the property will transfer to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation during the fundraising campaign.
"The Boy Scouts really wanted to see it stay the way it is and open to public use," said Heather Jobst, land projects director for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. "They feel that is a good way to honor their history."
"So we will just act as a bridge between that and continue to help the conservation board identify and raise all the funds that are needed," Jobst said.
The woodland lies at the south end of Inganawis. Most of the land is timbered, contains several miles of trails and is accessible by a gravel road. The property includes a small facility with restrooms, Eagle Lodge, which will be useful for educational programs and student groups, Frederick said.
"We don't have a nature center in this county," Frederick said.
The area is suitable for hiking, birding, mountain biking, snowshoeing and other recreational and educational activities, Frederick said. Scouts can continue to use the area but now, so will the public.
"I know the county is excited about the opportunity to put this into public ownership as well and to continue to provide that opportunity and resource to the public for their use," Jobst added.
The goal is to raise the necessary money without directly using tax dollars, Frederick said. Proponents are in the process of applying for $105,000 in grant funds and will seek additional opportunities. The Bremer County Conservation Board has pledged dollars and manpower for signage and parking lot work.
For more information, call Frank Frederick at 882-4742 or go online at www.inhf.org/.
Contributions should be sent to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, 505 Fifth Ave., Suite 444, Des Moines 50309.