Friends of conservation look back at year

Members of the Friends of Webster County Conservation and their guests gathered Thursday evening in the Bob Huen Shelter at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park to celebrate another year of successfully helping Webster County Conservation.

Doug Breyfogle, chairman of the group’s board, said the group has been active in several programs, including the Stewardship Day. Volunteers perform various tasks ranging from spreading mulch on trails to painting picnic tables.

“That’s been a lot of fun,” he said.

The Stewardship volunteers frequently work in the many other areas Webster County Conservation manages.

“It’s something different to see,” he said. “You get an education about various plants and how the areas are managed.”

The group is currently in the planning stages for a natural play area, he said.

“The kids can come and play with natural materials.”

The whole experience has been educational for him too.

“You learn what it takes to put something like that together,” he said.

Another area the group is exploring is an expansion of the Adventure Series.

“We would like to have some high adventure trips,” he said. “Maybe a trip to the Boundary Waters.”

Webster County Conservation Naturalist Karen Hansen said the friends group serves a critical function.

“Without them,” she said, “we could never do some of the events we do.”

Through the year, that has included a fishing derby, the fall and spring festivals, the Adventure Series and many hours of volunteer work in the various parks.

“They’ve helped development projects that encourage people to get outside,” she said.

One person who needs no prodding to get outside and enjoy the outdoors is Tony Recker, of Fort Dodge. Recker had brought a collection of photographs he took during a back country hiking trip to Glacier National Park in Montana.

“It was just amazing,” he said.

The trip included dealing with grizzly and brown bears and a much less dangerous wild animal that would invade the campground at night.

“They have all kinds of nuisance deer,” he said. “They ate part of my hat.”

Even though he took the trip in August, there was still plenty of snow in the high country. One giant drift had to be hiked around since it covered the trail.

The week in the wilderness took its toll on something else – that freshly showered feeling.

“It took a week to get the smell out of my van,” he said.

Recker also shared his joy of the local outdoors. He frequently spends time outdoors with his family kayaking, hiking, trying out cross country skis and looking for animal prints.

Volunteer Jim Patton presented the guests with information about the Keepers of the Land endowment program at the banquet as well.

He said the program serves as a mechanism to receive financial and other gifts that are channeled towards use by Webster County Conservation for education, conservation and land protection.

The evening also included a short board meeting, silent auction and dinner. Memberships in the Friends of Webster County Conservation are $15 for an individual, $25 for a family or $250 for a business.