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Top 10 – Friends of Fort Defiance break trail for the future

By Staff | Dec 27, 2007

About 1930, some forward-thinking people in Iowa state government decided that it would be a good idea to establish a state park on the west side of Estherville. A site hugging the steep banks of School Creek was chosen, and hence Fort Defiance State Park was born.

Just over 200 acres, Fort Defiance State Park still features a number of artifacts from when Civilian Conservation Corps workers helped build trails, campsites, and the lodge that was renovated in recent years.

However, like everything else, time and the elements began to take their toll on the park. In May 2005, heavy rains washed out many of the trails that Americorps volunteers had worked on so diligently summer 2000. Then, March 2006, someone decided to do something about saving the park.

When representatives of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which owns the park, challenged park supporters to show how much they cared, volunteers stepped forward. The Friends of Fort Defiance formed with the purpose of improving the park.

Working hand in hand with the Iowa DNR, the Friends have mapped out a schedule of trail improvements over the coming years. Over the last 18 months, the Friends have painted picnic tables and built by hand a trail from the native prairie area in the east side of the park along Spring Creek to School Creek and the main canyon of the park. As equipment and state manpower becomes available, the trail will be bladed and surfaced for the enjoyment of the public.

The new Spring Creek trail is just one phase of many trail improvements that the Friends and DNR hope to jointly accomplish. Plans are afoot to possibly create a new upper trail that would link with trails in the bottom of School Creek canyon, avoiding the high-gradient trails that are so prone to washout.

The DNR has also made significant improvements to the 16-unit campground that has seen increased use over the past year.

The Friends of Fort Defiance is always looking for new members. memberships are only $5 each or $10 for families. As a Friends member, you can have the opportunity to lend your voice and hands in making park improvements.

Send your membership to Friends of Fort Defiance, P.O. Box 314, Estherville, IA 51334.