Right here in Jones County

Posted September 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

BABBLING BROOKS column–Express Editor Kim Brooks

Do you know what we have right here in Jones County? Do you know the treasures that are hidden under your feet?

Last week, I was given the opportunity to attend the first ever Jones County Conservation tour. This trip across the county was organized by the conservation department, and included such attendees as area legislators, Jones County Supervisors, members of the Iowa DNR, bordering county conservation leaders, state archeologists, members of Pheasants Forever and more.

We boarded a bus at Camp Courageous, over 20 of us, and toured some hidden treasures within Jones County. You’d be surprised by what treasures we have right here!

While I’ve lived here in Jones County going on five years now, of course I haven’t seen all the wonders there are here. But, there were people on this tour that have lived here all their lives that had never seen many of these wondrous sights.

After leaving Camp, we headed to Whitewater Canyon/Lost Canyon, which is located between Monticello and Cascade. Portions of this property are located in both Jones and Dubuque counties.

We took a wagon ride through the park and ended on top of this picturesque overlook. Words cannot describe the view and scenery from this point within Whitewater Canyon! Taking in the fall foliage from this site would be amazing!

There are also walking trails through the property for hiking.

From there, we headed to Eby’s Mill Access, which the county is currently working to purchase from private ownership, and eventually open it up to the public.

One secret that’s been revealed located on this property is a cave, which AmeriCorps team members, Jones County Conservation and the state archeology department have been working in. They’ve all put in so many hours sifting through historical artifacts that have been located inside this cave.

When our group was there, listening to and visiting with guest speakers, the KCRG-TV9 news team was also there, filming a piece for that evening’s news. Since then, Sacred Heart School classes have also gone to Eby’s Mill to explore the cave and its features. What a great educational opportunity for the youth of Jones County!

All throughout this tour, we met with various professional speakers in their respective fields, all giving us background knowledge on these properties and historical information as to how they were acquired and became public parks.

Our last stop, due to timing, was Central Park. Within the next few years or so, this park will see quite a few changes from a new conservation director, to a new lake and additional property added to the already spectacular park.

Just driving into Central Park and heading toward the lake, it’s a marvelous sight! As Jones County Ranger John Klein remarked as we pulled into the park, it’s a scene many people don’t get the chance to take in. Unless you camp there or visit Central Park on a regular basis, many people right here in Jones County don’t take the time to enjoy the sights. As we pulled into the park, the sun was setting and the bright red, orange and pink sunset glowed over the lake. It was spectacular!

The main goal of this tour was to introduce many to the wonderful conservation sites we have here. The main theme of the five-hour tour (much different than Gilligan’s three-hour tour) was “partnership.” If it weren’t for Jones County Conservation partnering with so many other generous organizations and government entities, all of these wilderness sites and habitats would not exist for public access and public use.

This tour opened my eyes to the extraordinary places we have here in Jones County, and hopefully you will look into what we have as well.