Foundation invests in outdoor experiences
Grants from the Allamakee County Community Foundation have funded a variety of applications from nonprofits working to promote and enhance natural assets throughout the county. Collectively, these projects will enrich outdoor experiences for both visitors and residents.
“The Allamakee County Community Foundation advisory board knows how important the unique outdoor environment is to Allamakee,” said Betty Steege, foundation coordinator. “Following agriculture, tourism has the second greatest economic impact in the county.”
Funded projects include:
- Kayaks for environmental education programs hosted by the Allamakee County Conservation Board
- A community health initiative called Let’s Get our Walk On, Waukon
- A new splash pad in Lansing.
- A unique fundraiser for the Friends of the Yellow River State Forest
Additionally, a grant to the Upper Iowa River Alliance will assist with plans to create a multimedia display that captures the spirit of the river to share with visitors.
The Upper Iowa River Alliance is a nonprofit comprised of landowners and stakeholders who live and work in the Upper Iowa River watershed. Their mission is to promote, protect and enhance the upper Iowa River corridor. “There is a fine balance because private landowners provide access to those who enjoy and appreciate the river,” said Josh Dansdill, the group’s secretary and treasurer. “We hope through enjoying the river, people will learn to love and protect it.”
Dansdill’s multimedia project will help river users do just that. Using a special camera, he spent the summer capturing 360-degree videos on the river from the Canoe Creek access landing to Iverson Bottoms landing, as well as a section of the river in Howard County. His goal is to map the entire river, which would make this project the first of its kind in Iowa.
A recent Google study showed that 360-degree videos get more attention on the web. “People are doing research online. If we can show them the natural splendor of the Upper Iowa River, allowing them to put themselves in the landscape, they may be inspired to make a trip and start to appreciate the river as a resource,” explains Dansdill.
Paddling, floating, swimming and fishing are all popular on the Upper Iowa, which boasts stunning bluffs, waterfalls and historic sites. Dansdill sees the project as an opportunity to educate river recreators about safety and help them understand the boundaries between private property and public land — before they even get on the water.
The results of Dansdill’s work on the project this summer are available at upperiowariver.org.
Dansdill is the grants specialist and business development planner for Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D). Jared Nielsen, senior marketing and design specialist at RC&D, has worked with Dansdill and the Allamakee County Community Foundation on many past projects.
“Community Foundation funding is often a springboard to get local supporters invested in a project,” said Nielsen. “We often see that after we receive initial funding, we can take projects to the state level, or the project really becomes much greater. This is generally the funding source that ignites the larger picture.”
To make an impact on the natural resources in your Allamakee County community, contact Betty Steege at 563-586-2046 or via email.