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Friends make great strides

By Staff | Jul 3, 2008

The Friends of Fort Defiance broke into two two crews Tuesday night and tackled some pretty big jobs in Fort Defiance State Park.

One crew, consisting of Laura Young, Joe Shekey, Dave Seylar and John Wittneben, continued removing woven wire fence from along the south side of the main park road in order to open the park up to a trail that extends through a meadow area. The new area is now open to a new general purpose/equestrian trail and located across the road from a half-mile trail the Friends designed and built under direction of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to withstand washouts from heavy rain events.

Another crew, consisting of Gary and Lavonne Phillips, mowed grass and prepared the new Whitetail Ridge Interpretive Trail which extends west from the former ranger’s house. That structure is slated for demolition due to exceedingly high radon ratings.

The Whitetail Ridge Interpretive Trail includes a 30-minute self-guided interpretive hike, 15 interpretive stations, and a chance for visitors to observe local flora and fauna. The trail was designed and constructed by the Iowa Lakes Community College Conservation Club students in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Assisting in the completion of the project were the Friends of Fort Defiance and students enrolled in the Iowa Lakes Community College Construction Technology Program.

Phillips is professor of environmental studies and advisor to the college Conservation Club.

Highlights of the trail include:

n Black walnut.

n Northern red oak.

n Sprawling growth patterns that decode the past.

n American hornbeam, also known as ironwood.

n North-facing slope forest community.

n Flood-plain terraces.

n American linden.

n Bitternut hickory.

n Bur oak.

n Quaking aspen.

n Western snowberry.

n Forest succession, a process in which an area is converted from pioneer species to a mature or climax forest.

n American sycamore.

n Deer rubs, abrasions made by male deer in fall as the deer leave their scent on trees.

The public is welcomed and encouraged to join the Friends of Fort Defiance and help the group meet its goal of making Fort Defiance State Park one of the premier destination state parks in Iowa.

To join, send $5 for individual yearly memberships and $10 for family memberships to: Friends of Fort Defiance Membership Committee, P.O. Box 314, Estherville, IA 51334.