(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today were joined at their weekly press conference by the Iowa Parks Foundation and the Green Ribbon Commission – a special commission charged with developing a long-term and sustainable strategy to revitalize Iowa’s State Parks systems – to present the group’s 100 year strategy for Iowa parks to the public. The Governor and Lt. Governor, in conjunction with the Iowa Parks Foundation, following the strategy outlined in the Commission’s strategic plan, announced that the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region will be the location for the first strategic Iowa parks pilot project.
The selected region consists Dubuque, Jackson and Jones counties, which includes four state parks, scenic byways, and potential for land and water trail development. The Grant Wood Mississippi River Region plans to expand infrastructure; create connections; and improve the structural, economic and community connections to its parks.
David Heiar Director of the Jackson County Economic Alliance, and a point person for the region, is ready for the project to begin. “Our partners in the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region are very excited about this opportunity to serve as a pilot region. We are anxious to begin the planning process, and of course even more enthusiastic about implementing the vision that is created. As a pilot project, we know other regions will be looking to us to set the standards and benchmarks for future projects throughout the state.”
The Northeast Iowa project will be a public-private partnership – funded by the State Legislature through Senate File 2349 and matched by local companies and citizens. The pilot project, which will receive $1.9 million with a private match, will set the precedent for what can be accomplished in a region with dedicated strategic planning and sustainable funding.
Lt. Gov. Reynolds stated that the advancement of Iowa’s parks system will help improve education and health in Iowa. “We’re pleased to announce the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region as the first pilot region and are eager to see the process expand throughout Iowa. Better parks will encourage more Iowans of all ages to get outdoors, learn, and become healthier.”
Gov. Branstad believes that the Iowa Parks Foundation and the Green Ribbon Commission’s strategic recommendations can create a lasting legacy for Iowa. The Iowa Parks system will celebrate its hundredth anniversary in 2020, and Gov. Branstad sees a great opportunity with park development and beautification in the next several years: “It is my hope that we can partner with more local communities to create regional projects all throughout the state, utilizing the Green Ribbon Commission strategies. The long term, sustainable success of Iowa’s parks will attract successful people to our state, grow jobs, and create a healthier population.”
(Photo courtesy of Governor’s Office)