Collaborating on Boone Forks Regional plan

Hamilton, Webster and Boone counties to market regions’ vast resources

— Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Brian Lammers, executive director of Hamilton County Conservation, looks over the Boone Forks Regional plan. Hamilton, Webster and Boone counties are working together to market the many natural resources and recreational opportunities in the Boone Forks areas.

Hamilton County is home to an abundance of natural resources. The Boone River, Brigg Woods Park and Campground and more. Here, locals and visitors can swim, fish, hike, camp and explore area wildlife spots. In an effort to show all that this regin has to offer, the county is teaming up with Webster and Boone counties in the Boone Forks Regional Plan.

The Boone Forks Regional Plan centers around marketing the expansive resources and activities locals and visitors can take advantage of throughout the three counties. The region wants to exploit their natural resources and what they have to offer under parks and recreation and wildlife areas and market it as a region.

“In our three counties we have a lot of natural resources,” said Brian Lammers, Hamilton County Conservation Executive Director. “We have a lot of parks and a lot of opportunities for people to come here and experience.”

Hamilton County assets include many natural resources and parks, and Legacy Learning Boone River Valley, an education program that uses workshops and classes to teach a diverse amount of topics. Webster County is home to Brushy Creek, Dollivar State Park, trail systems and more. Boone County boasts the High Trestle Trail and other outdoor opportunities for all ages.

“The reason we’re tied together is because of the Boone and Des Moines River,” said Lammers. “The Boone Forks area was kind of our anchor piece.”

This is part of the original Parks to People Program, which started through the Iowa Parks Foundation. The Parks to People Program was founded nearly five years ago, according to Lammers.

“The goal of that was to create a vision of Iowa State Parks in 2020 because that’s their 100th anniversary,” Lammers said. “I think they quickly realized that in order to do this they were going to have to bring in county conservation boards and think regionally on how to showcase the natural wonders we have here in the state.”

The number one goal of the Boone Forks Regional Plan is to market all of the opportunities and resources the region offers visitors. The second goal is to encourage and boost partnerships with the private sector.

“Working with the private side is an important piece to this,” said Lammers. “If we can do both those things, we’re on the right track,” he said.

The region encompassing Hamilton, Webster and Boone counties was identified as one of the regions asked to participate in the program.

“The reason we were asked is because just prior to this program starting, we worked together on the Iowa Great Places program,” Lammers said. “We got a proclamation from the governor about being an Iowa Great Place, but no funding ever came about.”

“Since we had all of our homework put together we decided to work on this Parks to People Program as a region,” said Lammers.

Each county got toether as an individual team as well as a core committee, which has members from all three counties.

The core committee includes Lammers, Matt Cosgrove, Webster County Conservation, Fort Dodge Convention Bureau, and Kurt Phillips, Boone Chamber of Commerce.

“We identified each of our assests in each county,” said Lammers. “We wanted to come up with a visionary plan of what we had as a region.”

Last year residents were surveyed to see what they wanted and appreciated about the resources and opportunities their county offered. Input from residents helped organizers put the final pieces of the puzzle together.

“Our next step is to come together to figure out how to incorporate the marketing side of things,” Lammers said.

“I would like to see this going by next year,” he said.