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Iowa Hosts National Park Directors Conference
Posted: 08/27/2013

For decades to come, a woodland walk in Dubuque will provide a leafy reminder, of the value and beauty of trees. Not just any trees, but the state trees of each of the United States, planted by the states’ park directors themselves, during their 2013 annual conference in Dubuque.

Coming together September 3-6, the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) will discuss future trends in outdoor recreation; technology, park visitation; partner opportunities and other challenges to keep state parks accessible to the public.

NASPD President Priscilla Geigis notes that the group preserves more than 14 million acres, with 730 million visits a year…returning about $20 billion in economic impact to the communities they serve.
The public highlight will be 1:30 p.m. on September 4, as more than 40 state park directors, and 180 students and other volunteers plant their state trees, adjacent to the E. B. Lyons Interpretative Center, at the Mines of Spain Recreation Area. Iowa’s climate can support trees from 46 states. The remaining four states’ trees will be represented on one of the 18 tabletop instructional panels highlighting the project.

The State Tree Woodland Walk is part of a larger development to expand nature studies, with a half-mile paved trail, picnic shelter, restroom, youth group camp area, overlook classroom and additional parking, when completed.

Iowa has hosted the conference twice…including the first session, in 1921. It and the 1971 conference were in Des Moines. This time around, Iowa Department of Natural Resources parks bureau chief Kevin Szcodronski felt northeast Iowa should be showcased.

“We are very familiar with what Dubuque has done; reclaiming the Mississippi River and its recent river related development,” relates Szcodronski. “Plus, Northeast Iowa offers a surprising element, with its woodlands and bluffs. We want to introduce a lot of people to that.”

Based at Dubuque’s riverfront Grand River Center—the conference closes September 6. Before then, delegates tour three northeast Iowa state parks; Cedar Rock, Backbone (Iowa’s first state park) and Pikes Peak. The final stop of the conference will be a dinner cruise on the internationally significant Mississippi River.


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