Gift to Iowa’s Future Day celebrates Iowa landowners

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On Thursday, March 24, a group of Iowa landowners were honored at the state capitol building for gifts of conservation land, land value and conservation easements made in 2015. “Gift To Iowa’s Future” day is an annual celebration of private landowners and organizations who protect their land for natural resources and recreation opportunities. 2015 gifts totaled more than $10 million and protected over 4,500 acres in 15 counties.

16 of the 23 landowners honored worked in partnership with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to protect their land.

“Private landowners are instrumental in protecting Iowa’s land, water and wildlife,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “Gift to Iowa’s Future Day is a chance for us to celebrate the generous contributions individual Iowans make to conservation each year. It is truly humbling to see the impact of these gifts across the state.”
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Gunderson Nature Park dedication

Join the City of Eldora and INHF for the dedication and celebration of the Gunderson Nature Park, Wednesday Nov. 11th at 1:00 p.m. at the entrance of the park. The park is located directly North of the Hardin County Fair Grounds (east end).

Bob and Mary Lou Gunderson have long been involved with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and conserving Iowa’s land and water. In 2012, INHF presented the Gundersons with the Hagie Heritage Award, a recognition meant to honor Iowans who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to conservation and improvement of Iowa’s natural environment while encouraging others to do the same.

The couple has committed countless hours to conservation efforts across Iowa with much of their work benefitting Hardin County and its surrounding communities. They were founders of the Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust in 1987 and have been actively involved in many other projects.

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Bob and Mary Lou Gunderson receiving the 2012 Hagie Heritage Award

Earlier this year, the Gundersons were also recognized at the Gift to Iowa’s Future Day, an event hosted by the state of Iowa. The celebration is hosted at the capitol to honor individuals, corporations and organizations that permanently protect land for parks, trails, natural areas, fish and wildlife habitat and other benefits.

The Gundersons were honored by the state because of their 12 acre land donation to Eldora, which is the site of the Gunderson Nature Park. The strategic location of Gunderson Nature Park near city streets and neighborhoods brings the park closer to Eldora residents. A trail loop, prairie and savanna reconstruction, butterfly habitat and a nature-scape play area are planned by the City of Eldora now that it has transferred to them from INHF.

“The Gundersons have not only been incredible supporters of our natural resources through their time and financial support, but they have been instrumental in promoting that mentality to those around them,” wrote John Schuller, Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust board member.

Iowa’s land and water are truly better off thanks to the Gunderson’s efforts and inspiration. INHF hopes you will join in on the celebration of two conservation champions.

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Gifts to Iowa’s future

There are moments in the life of each INHF project in which the staff tries to pause and reflect — maybe even celebrate a little — before moving onto the next one. It could be a formal dedication, such as the Paint Creek Valley Addition to Yellow River State Forest on May 7. Or it could simply be transferring ownership of a property from INHF to a public agency.

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Mary Lou and Bob Gunderson.

Earlier this week, INHF transferred 12 acres to the city of Eldora in Hardin County. The land had been donated by Mary Lou and Bob Gunderson, and it will be known as Gunderson Nature Park. A trail loop, prairie and savanna reconstruction, butterfly habitat and a nature-scape play area are planned by the city. The transfer was another step in permanently protecting this place’s land, water and wildlife — the ultimate goal of every INHF project.

The Gundersons have a long history of conservation work in Iowa, especially along the Iowa River Greenbelt. They were one of 18 individuals, families and organizations honored by the state of Iowa last month at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day. Twelve of this year’s honorees worked with INHF to find the right options to permanently protect their land. Dave Mackaman, INHF board 1st vice chair, took some time to reflect on the ceremony:

“Attending the Gift to Iowa’s Future recognition event at the state capital was a memorable pleasure. The selfless and forwarding thinking actions of these land and easement donors were without doubt inspirational, and to have elected and public officials, INHF representatives, family, friends, and admirers there to thank these individuals was heartwarming. 

“After the formal recognition event, members from the INHF team hosted a luncheon for those donors with whom the Foundation had the privilege of working. During the luncheon the attendees all shared personal perspective around an individual, a memory, or a place that sparked their own passion around nature and conservation.

“The stories flowed with emotion, at times eliciting laughter and beaming smiles from the group, and at other times drawing out gentle tears. In all cases, the stories united us in the room around the power of our connective passion for our state and its wild places. As I listened to the stories, I imagined a group of people gathering in the future, somewhere, sometime down the road, knowing that it could well be the people in this room that would be featured in that group’s stories of who sparked the passion for nature and conservation within them, and knowing that INHF will be there to help keep it going.”

Learn more about those honored at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day here.

INHF celebrates Gift to Iowa’s Future Day at the capitol

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On Tuesday, INHF staff and partners were honored at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day, which celebrated contributions that Iowa landowners and organizations make to preserving land for conservation and public use in 2013. Many of the landowners donated land through INHF, paving the way for special protected and public areas.

10 families and individuals were recognized in association with INHF. Read the stories of their partnerships and land. Continue reading

Gift to Iowa’s Future Day

Over 20 landowners, families and organizations were honored for their gifts to conservation in 2012.

Over 20 landowners, families and organizations were honored for their gifts to conservation in 2012.
Photo by Jessica Rilling

On Monday, April 1, members of the INHF staff joined Governor Terry Branstad, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and other legislators at the Iowa State Capitol to recognize individuals, families, businesses and organizations for gifts to Iowa’s future in 2012 in the form of land or land value for conservation. Continue reading