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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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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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Bob and Sandra Walton. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald
WALTON, Bob. (Dubuque, IA- ). Walton was the first naturalist hired for the SWISS VALLEY NATURE PRESERVE. A 1973 graduate of Iowa State University, Walton majored in wildlife biology and fishery and minored in education. Upon assuming his position, he was responsible for the conversion of an old barn along the Swiss Valley Road south of Dubuque into one of the region's most complete displays of native plant and animal life. Walton was a strong advocate for the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program describing it as a benefit to soil conservation projects, county conservation projects, and small and large city parks. (1) He was also a frequent organizer of programs and trips for the Dubuque Audubon Society. Walton also annually hosted bus loads of students who visited Swiss Valley with tours featuring the plant life and geology of the area and displays he maintained in the converted barn/nature center. (2) For his efforts, Walton was named "Conservationist of the Year" by the Dubuque County Conservation Board. (3)

In 1997 Walton was the host on a ten-member Iowa Conservation Corps crew. The work involved improving trout habitat and stabilizing stream banks at Swiss Valley. Funded by a grant through Iowa Workforce Development, the program hired youth to install oak bank hides which protected trout from such predators as heron, otters, and mink. (4)

In 2005 Walton, executive director of the Dubuque County Conservation Board, learned that the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection Program had awarded $290,000 to the board to purchase 419 acres, White Water Canyon, south of Fillmore. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Cliff Waller, wanted the land preserved. Walton learned the land was available and notified The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation which signed a purchase agreement for $1 million with the Wallers and then held the property in trust. Walton then initiated the fundraising effort. (5) He was soon to be involved in discussions that led to the overpass over Highway 51 connecting Heritage Trail with the city. (6) Walton and the conservation board which managed the trail wanted a safer path for bicycle riders and walkers. (7)

He retired in 2008 after more than thirty years as the executive director of the Dubuque County Conservation Board. (8)

After retirement, Bob and his wife Sandra, a descendant of John Specht, moved to the Specht homestead north of Dubuque. In ten years the couple, with friends, planted four thousand trees, thousands of shrubs and prairie grass. The result was their observation of 85 species of birds, deer, and turkey. (9)

See: Sandra WALTON



1. Reber, Craig, "Conservationists Gather at REAP Meeting Thursday," Telegraph Herald, March 27, 1996, p. 6

2. Lyon, Randy, a teacher of fourth grade students who participated in outdoor education

3. Photograph, Telegraph Herald, September 28, 1982, p. 7

4. Reber, Craig, "Teens Say Stream Work Naturally Satisfying," Telegraph Herald, July 25, 1997, p 2

5. Reber, Craig, "Paradise Found," Telegraph Herald, October 2, 2006, p. 2

6. Piper, Andy, "Bridging Opportunities," Telegraph Herald, January 9, 2013, p. 1

7. Kirchen, Rich, "Council May Back Heritage Trail," Telegraph Herald, March 5, 1989, p. 22

8. Piper

9. Swenson, Jim, "Changing Times," Telegraph Herald, July 15, 2018, p. 31