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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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DUBUQUE COUNTY CONSERVATION SOCIETY. The Society was founded on April 4, 1933 by thirty-five people who met at the CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY. The principal activity at the time was the preservation of an area called White Pine Hollow, the largest stand of white pines in Iowa, west of Luxemburg. A program was designed to purchase the property from A. A. Cooper, Inc. In a short time, 112 area businessmen had each pledged $100 and the land was purchased.

Success of the first project led the group to immediately turn to other issues including stocking raccoons and Reeves pheasants and planting silver maples. In 1945 the Society supported legislation giving the federal government the authority to limit or prevent pollution of the MISSISSIPPI RIVER. The Society in 1948 urged the construction of a city sewer plant and began efforts to secure a roadway to the grave of Julien DUBUQUE.

In 1949 the Society began the process of purchasing part of SWISS VALLEY. In 1950 seven acres were obtained to protect the trout stream and recreational area which was later turned over the Dubuque County. The Society also turned over the 30-acre Mud Lake area lease to the County to create the third public park at the time.

Stocking of wild turkeys began in 1959 with the Society providing an initial $500 to the project. Birds were purchased in Pennsylvania and brought back to Iowa in a highly successful program. In 1960 the Society obtained a lease on the O'LEARY'S LAKE area. With the assistance of the 389th Engineer Construction Battalion, a channel was reopened to the river. The dredging was repeated several decades later.

The decades of the 1960s through 1980s saw the Society champion efforts to preserve CITY ISLAND for recreational and environmental uses rather than allow its development for industry and barge fleeting. Riverview Park was created. In 1984 the lease was turned over to the City of Dubuque which renamed the site Miller Park in honor of Ranger John and Mary Miller who were custodians there for many years.

The Society was opposed to the production of HYDROELECTRICITY using Lock and Dam 11. The concerns centered on the adverse effect on the river habitat including the destruction of O'Leary's Lake. The Society was not able to block the construction of a road through the MINES OF SPAIN.

Beginning in 2001, the Society into a series of habitat improvement plans for the Leo McLaughlin Wildlife Area. This included the removal of invasive trees and shrubs and planting desirable trees, wildflowers, and shrubs. In 2002, a donation of $6,000 was made to the Camp C. S. Klaus land expansion program.

The Society became involved in ALLIANT ENERGY CORPORATION and the State of Iowa's "Releaf Program" in 2005. This program resulted in the sale at highly-reduced prices and planting of thousands of larger-sized trees. In 2006 a local conference was held to encourage more environmentally friendly lawn and garden care. The same year, the Society made several substantial donations to the Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Area for the purchase of property.

Throughout its history, the Dubuque County Conservation Society could count upon the assistance of many dedicated men and women. Their names Walter John BAUMGARTNER, John George CHALMERS, Mr. and Mrs. Frank HARDIE, Mr. and Mrs. Edwin B. LYONS, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene ADAMS, and Horace POOLE.



Leifker, David. "Dubuque County Conservation Society Celebrates 75 Years," Julien's Journal, April 2008, p. 73.