Discovering Whiterock Conservancy
Guest Blog Post by Whiterock Conservancy Marketing Director, Shae Rossetti
I first heard of Whiterock Conservancy in 2015, when I was the Outdoor Programs & Outreach Market Coordinator for REI in West Des Moines. It was presented as this not-so-far-away place full of outdoor recreational opportunities, like 40+ miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, camping, and paddling. It also had the word “conservancy” attached to it, which was exactly what I was looking for, as I needed to award grant money to an organization in support of trails in 2015 on behalf of REI.
But what was this potential mecca of outdoor recreation that I had NEVER heard of – and WHY hadn’t I heard of it until now? Before I moved to Iowa, I thought I had researched every possible trail within an hour of Des Moines for trail running and mountain biking. Certainly, this was one of Western Iowa’s best kept local secrets. And it was [is]. Once I connected with Whiterock and awarded the grant, I encouraged my fellow REI coworkers to go explore the area. Whiterock Conservancy quickly became the place where my coworkers and I would go to get away from the city. Just perfectly far enough away from everything, but close enough to where you could make a day trip out of it.
What I didn’t realize is that Whiterock Conservancy is so much more than an outdoor recreational mecca. It tells the story of the land from millions of years ago. It’s located where the last glacier quite literally stopped near Coon Rapids. Indigenous archaeological sites are scattered throughout area. It's home to the darkest skies in Iowa, and Whiterock Conservancy works to bring together agriculture, conservation, and outdoor recreation in one place. This is unheard of! Who recreates, farms with the land, and can say they’re “conserving” Iowa’s natural heritage – all at once? Whiterock can; and this is what sets them apart from other conservancies.
The biggest question most of us have would be, "Why don’t more people come out to visit, explore, and learn about the conservancy?" While there are likely a few answers, the largest hurdle is: funding. Whiterock Conservancy staff can only do so much with what they have. Tools break, vehicles stop working, budgets are tight, and volunteers can only give so much of their time. While issues may pile up, it doesn’t stop staff and that’s what makes them invaluable. The staff at Whiterock, volunteers, and a supportive Board of Directors believe in the conservancy and love the land – and it shows. There’s something to be said about a place that when you visit, it tends to linger in your heart and mind, until the day you return. Then it gets into your soul.
Without your help, progress to extend and maintain trails, expand efforts like the Soil Health Easement Program, practice sustainable farming, update amenities, and conserve the land wouldn’t be possible. The people who make up Whiterock Conservancy and its supporters are vital – they are the heartbeat of the organization. Whiterock Conservancy is an amazing place, with the potential to become so much more. Please support our efforts to continue to grow and upkeep this beautiful area, so that you and generations to come can enjoy all that Whiterock has to offer.
With your donation, together we will be able to engage more people and protect more land.
Your funds will allow Whiterock to:
Lead the conversation on Soil Health Conservation Easements in Iowa
Offer more experimental learning opportunities for visitors
Continue to protect and restore vital habitat