A new public wildlife area north of Webster City offers 112 acres of hunting, hiking and outdoor recreation for visitors.
Brandrup's Timber, located on 190th Street west of White Fox Road, was given to public management by Mike Brandrup. The land includes native timber, restored prairie grasses and wetland along the Boone River.
Brandrup, a retired forester with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is soon to be 70 years old. Living a couple miles outside of town, he said their property is an ideal site for housing development. Limestone underlies the area and he said the land could also be torn apart for mining purposes.
Mike Brandrup, retired forester with the Iowa DNR, with his dog Bo, shows off a part of Brandrup’s Timber on Wednesday.
However, Brandrup wants to see the land protected. He has enjoyed the land since his youth. It taught him the work ethic of agriculture, instilled a life-long passion for hunting and showed him the marvel of nature that guided him into a career in forestry and natural resource management. However, his two daughters aren't currently in a position to take care of the land. To ensure it will be protected, he worked with the Hamilton County Conservation Board to make the land a public wildlife management area.
"It's the most fragile, most unique, most diverse part of the farm," Brandrup said. "So, it just simply made sense to do it."
Brandrup said that, according to land abstracts, his farm was deeded from the federal government in 1854. His grandparents acquired the land in the late 1940's. From the land's first owner to the present day, it has gone from native prairie and timber to a subsistence farm, a cattle farm to a row crop farm. In the past, Brandrup has also used the land to grow walnuts as well as pine trees to be sold as Christmas trees. While the land won't be used to produce commodities anymore, Brandrup said it will continue to serve a good purpose.
"This will still have an important land use because it will be recreational land," he said. "It will still produce tremendous benefits as it always has, but it will produce those benefits in a different way and a very sustainable way."
Work on the wildlife area is ongoing. Patches of the land have been seeded to expand prairie grasses. Directional signs, area boundary signs and a parking lot have yet to be added. Brandrup said a dedication ceremony will likely be held this summer. Brandrup's Timber could also be made into a handicap accessible hunting area in the future. Brandrup said the level trails through the timber are ideal for such access and he is investigating how to implement it.
Currently, the land is open to the public. Brandrup has mowed several trails that wind through the timber near the Boone River which he said are great for walks. Some visitors have been out hunting mushrooms as well. When Brandrup was growing up, he said his neighbors let him hunt, fish and hike through their lands up to Woolstock. By giving the land back to nature, and to the public, Brandrup continues that tradition with those around him.
"We don't lose anything by doing this. We still have all the use with this being a public area and we've always been willing to share it with people and let them hunt and fish," Brandrup said. "Living next door to it is fantastic."
For more information, contact Hamilton County Conservation at (515) 832-9570 or visit mycountyparks.com.