All Campgrounds Now Open 7-12-2018

We are happy to announce that all the campgrounds in Sioux County are back open and operational for camping. We also have Oak Grove’s boat ramp and Bottom Picnic Area back open for those wishing to boat the Big Sioux River this weekend. Please continue to use caution when boating at the Big Sioux Recreation Area as the water continues to drop revealing more items that were under water.

HOWEVER, the swimming beach at Big Sioux Recreation Area remains closed despite the campgrounds being open.

UPDATE ON CAMPGROUND CLOSURES 7-6-2018

The roadway to the boat ramp and boat ramp are now open at the Big Sioux Recreation Area. There is no dock by the ramp currently please use caution. Please also exercise caution when going around the pit as there are picnic table and other jetties etc. that remain under water at this time.

Swimming beach is open at Sandy Hollow Recreation Area only.

Campsites are available at the Sandy Hollow Recreation Area, both campgrounds at Big Sioux Recreation Area and at both campgrounds at Oak Grove Park.

The following areas remain closed at this time due to clean up and flooding:

Bruce Schomaker Recreation Area

Oak Grove River Bottom Picnic Area

Big Sioux Recreation Area Swimming Beach remains closed.

Please watch for further updates on openings.

Update on Campground Closures 6-27-2018

The following campgrounds are open for camping for the upcoming weekend:

Oak Grove Campground both campgrounds and rental facilities remain open.

Sandy Hollow Recreation Area Campground and rental facilities are open. Sandy Hollow Recreation Area will open after 2 pm on Thursday June 28, 2018.

Due to continued flooding the following campgrounds and areas will remain closed through the weekend:

Bruce Schomaker Recreation Area

Oak Grove River Bottom Picnic Area

The Big Sioux Recreation Area campgrounds, swimming beach and roadways are closed to all visitors and guest with the exception of seasonal campers.

Attention all Campers and Potential Campers for the Weekend of June 21-24, 2018

Updated 6-22-2018

Due to flooding the following campgrounds will remain closed until further notice:

Bruce Shoemaker Rec. Area, Boyden, IA 

Sandy Hollow Rec. Area, Sioux Center, IA

Eagle View Campground at the Big Sioux Rec. Area, Hawarden, IA

River Bottom/Picnic Area at Oak Grove, Hawarden, IA

The following campgrounds will remain open through out the weekend: Deer Run and Turkey Ridge Campground at Oak Grove, Hawarden, IA. Meadowlark Campground at the Big Sioux Rec. Area, Hawarden, IA will will remain open unless conditions change.

Please watch our website for reopening of the closed campgrounds.

Previous post:

Due to expected flood waters we are asking that anyone that has campers parked at any of our low lying campgrounds: Sandy Hollow Rec. Area and Big Sioux Rec. Area to please move your campers out to higher ground as soon as possible.

Campgrounds currently closed due to flooding:

Bruce Schomaker Rec. Area, Boyden, IA- June 21, 2018

Eagle View Campground, at the Big Sioux Rec. Area- June 21, 2018

Sandy Hollow Rec. Area- June 21, 2018

River Bottom Picnic Area at Oak Grove- June 21, 2018

The campgrounds at Oak Grove will remain open through out the flood event.

Also for your safety please be reminded that it is not safe to drive through flooding waters.

Please watch for updates for additional opening and closings of campgrounds for the weekend.

Still looking for a camping site for this Memorial Day Weekend?

We still have campsite openings at the following areas: Big Sioux Recreation Area- both campground and Oak Grove Park Turkey Ridge Campground has electrical openings. There are tent sites available in the Deer Run Campground.
All sites remaining are available on a first come first served bases. Sites with blue tags hanging are also available on a first come first served bases through May 28, 2018.
To reserve a site you must have a vehicle, camping unit or tent on site and must be paid for at time of placement. We are no longer able to accept online reservations for this years Memorial Day weekend. Please check our our website to make your reservation for your next stay.

Campgrounds open for the season!

We are happy to announce that the Big Sioux Recreation Area, Oak Grove/Big Sioux Park and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area campgrounds have their water turned on and comfort stations open for this year’s camping season! Bruce Schomaker Recreation Area will open May 15, 2018.

We are looking forward to another busy season full of camping and many activities. We are anticipating ground breaking of the nature center at Oak Grove late this summer/early fall. We ask that you please keep this in mind as you plan your summer outing to Oak Grove. Deer Run Campground will remain open until the end of the camping season.

New this year we are offering online reservations for a few select campsites. These sites are marked with signage; we ask unless you have made a reservation for these sites that you choose another site that is available. To make your reservation please visit our website at www.siouxcountyparks.org.

Online Reservations Now Available

Sioux County Conservation is excited to announce its online reservation system. Our website has been activated as of April 2, 2018. We will be taking online reservations for cabins and campsites for April 15- October 15 (campground dependent), Oak Grove Lodge, Big Sioux Shelter and Sandy Hollow Clubhouse will be available year round. We are hopeful this helps with your summer plans, holiday and family gatherings. Cabins and shelters will be available two (2) years out; campsites will be available for one (1) year out.

Cabins

Cabins will be available for reservation starting April 15- October 15. We may have additional dates outside of these parameters in October weather dependent. There is a (2) night minimum weekend stay, with 3 night minimum over holidays. A two (2) night stay is preferred during week of the summer months as well. Renters are responsible for their own linens (including pillows), toiletries, cooking/eating utensils, etc.

Shelters

The Oak Grove Lodge, Big Sioux Shelter and Sandy Hollow Clubhouse are all available for reservation throughout the year. Facilities are available 7 am- 10:30 pm on a daily basis, no overnight rentals allowed. Be advised that both the Oak Grove Lodge and Sandy Hollow Clubhouse require a deposit check to be turned in to the main administration office 7 to 30 days prior to your rental. After determining that the facility has been cleaned adequately inside and out and no damages have occurred during your rental your check will be shredded. The Sandy Hollow Clubhouse also requires vehicle entrance passes, these can be purchased ahead of time for a reduce cost for your rental or purchased at the entrance gate for the regular daily fee. A form is available on the website to send in with payment.

Campsites

We are also offering campsites at the Big Sioux Recreation Area, Oak Grove Park and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area for reservation. These select sites are available April 15- October 15, with the exception of the Oak Grove Park Campsites being available until the second Friday of the month of October. Campsites require a four (4) night minimum weekend reservation, with a seven (7) night minimum holiday reservation. We do have many additional sites available on a first come first served basis during the summer months. It is important to note that the campgrounds are commonly open earlier and later into the season, sites will be available on a first come first served basis.

We hope you are excited about this opportunity to make your reservations ahead of time for all facilities, and that it eases your family gathering planning. Head over to www.mycountyparks.com and set up your account today. If you have questions about reservation process or inquiring about dates outside of April 15 and October 15 for cabins please call our main administration office at 712-552-1047 or email at: conservation@siouxcounty.org.

Click here for helpful steps in completing your reservation and tips.

Attention Ice Fishermen and Visitors to our Parks

Due to the warm weather we have been experiencing it is important that you check and know the depth and condition of the ice before heading out to go fishing.

We have placed barricades up to stop vehicle traffic to the western half of the Big Sioux Recreation Area. Road conditions have continued to deteriorate with the warming spring temperatures. Foot traffic and bicycles will still be able to use portions of the road. There is space to turn around at the barricades. Please do not drive on the grass as several ruts have been left and will need to be fixed. The roadway will be closed until further notice.

Camping season is fast approaching we are anticipating having facilities open by middle of April.

We look forward to seeing you this summer, thank you for your cooperation and be safe out there!

Spring 2018 Newsletter

Our Spring Newsletter has been sent out today. Here is what you will find in your copy.

  • Summer camp listing, registration will start at 8 am on April 2.
  • Summer program listing
  • Winter Visitors
  • Update on Nature Center
  • Updates on county projects

Click here for your online copy of the newsletter.

We still have openings for summer employment at Oak Grove, Big Sioux Recreation Area, and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area. Applicants must be 16 years of age and older. Click here for application and click here for additional job descriptions.

Sioux County Conservation Board Hiring Seasonal Help

Sioux County Conservation Board is looking to hire seasonal help at Oak Grove, Big Sioux Recreation Area and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area. Whether you are a college student looking for a summer job, high school student exploring career options, or a retired adult looking for something to keep you busy during the summer months we have positions available. If you enjoy interacting with people and handing out information the Registration Booth Attendant position is perfect for you. Hours vary including weekends, evenings, holiday and weekdays.

If you are one that enjoys mowing, working with your hands, cleaning and other projects the Seasonal Park Technician position is for you. Hours are Monday to Friday, with some variances as needed.

See below for further information on positions and starting wages.

Registration Booth Attendants
The registration booth attendant will operate at either the Big Sioux Recreation Area, near Hawarden, IA and/or Sandy Hollow Recreation Area, near Sioux Center, IA. Primary responsibilities include: registering vehicles upon entering park, selling firewood and snacks, renting canoes/kayaks, cleaning of assigned areas and other tasks as assigned. Position to include: weekday, weekend, evening and holiday some hours.

Seasonal Park Technician
Seasonal park technicians will assist the full-time Park Ranger/Maintenance Technicians in day to day operations of the parks and facilities. Duties include but not limited to: mowing, cleaning restrooms and facilities, cutting firewood, staining, running farm equipment, register park users, maintain records and much more.

Applicants interested in the season park technician position should have the ability to engage in physical work, previous experience with maintenance, landscaping and farm equipment. Must have an interest in the outdoors and working with people of all ages. Prefer education or training in environmental education, natural resources, wildlife biology, biology/ecology or related field is preferred, but not required.

All applicants must be able to effectively communicate orally and in writing, apply knowledge and common sense to solve problems and/or achieve work objectives. Must possess a current valid driver’s license, be 16 years of age or older, and undergo background checks in reference to driving record, criminal history and child abuse registry.

Salary: $9/hour dependent on experience.
Deadline for applications is March 30, 2018. Please click the link below to print off an application and return to:

Sioux County Conservation Board

4051 Cherry Ave

Hawarden, IA 51023

Click here for application.

Winter Newsletter and Indoor Archery Leagues

Check out what has been going on at the Sioux County Conservation Board’s Parks in their winter newsletter. Updates in the newsletter include:

  • Building Projects
  • New Website
  • Rate changes for 2018
  • Sioux County Conservation Foundation Updates
  • Seasonal job openings
  • Upcoming programs

Click here for the latest copy of our newsletter.

Indoor Archery Leagues

The Sioux County Archery Committee will be hosting a Vegas League and a 3D Pop Up League during the winter months. They will also be hosting, in partnership, with the Sioux County Conservation Board an open range night on Thursday nights for the Indoor Archery Range and BB Gun Range.

League Shooting

We will offer a 4 consecutive week Vegas League starting Monday January 22, 2018. We will follow with a 3D Popup League for 4 weeks. Costs for the leagues are $10 for Vegas League and $30 for Pop Up League. Payment covers 4 nights of the league. The top 3 scores from each league will be scored. No preregistration needed just go to Sandy Hollow Recreation Area and park in the parking lot near the clubhouse.  League will happen in the indoor archery range. The leagues shoot time will be 6-8 pm. Last night for leagues will be March 19, 2018.

Open Range Night

Sandy Hollow Recreation Area will offer open shoot night for both the Indoor Archery Range and BB Gun Range. We will have both of these heated indoor ranges open to the public on Thursday nights from 6-8 PM January 18 to March 8.  All are welcome, youth 15 years of age and under must have adult supervision. Must provide own archery and BB gun equipment. Targets provided in both ranges. Cost is $5 for both archery and BB gun range per person per night or $3 for one range per person per night.

Reminder to those that hold Annual Archery Memberships that they are due for renewals. Membership forms and more information can be found here.

Seasonal Camping Sites for 2018

For those that enjoy camping week after week at your local county parks we are making it even easier for you to accomplish this task and not have to move your camper!  We are offering a few select sites at the Big Sioux Rec. Area, Oak Grove Park and Sandy Hollow Rec. Area for seasonal camping. This means you can bring your camper out in April and leave it until October!

Sandy Hollow Recreation Area and Big Sioux Recreation Area: Seasonal site will offer concrete pads, electric (20, 30 and/or 50 amp), water and sewer hook ups. Seasonal season will be from April 15 until October 15. Oak Grove Park sites will be available April 15 to October 10. Sites will also have concrete pads and are electric (20, 30, and 50 amp) sites. There is a water hydrant nearby to fill from, however there will be no sewer available at the individual site.

You are welcome to take your camper to other locations during this time; it will remain your site throughout the summer months. Your site will have a picnic table, fire ring and room to park one vehicle. Additional parking is located in visitor parking in the campground.

To acquire one of these sites you must fill out a Permanent/Seasonal camp site application online or pick one up at the Sioux County Conservation Administration Office during regular business hours. Return application with $50 deposit by January 22, 2018. We will draw for sites at our regular board meeting on February 7 at approximately 6:30 pm. If you are drawn at this time you will be required to put down a $500 deposit by February 20, 2018.  If not received by this date you will forfeit your site and $50 application deposit. The remainder of your balance for the site, ($1,300) for Big Sioux Recreation Area and Sandy Hollow Recreation Area or ($1,156) for Oak Grove will be due by April 15, 2018. Failure to make your payment by this date will result in forfeiting your site and $500 deposit.

 

2018 Seasonal Site Application

 

Looking to Close Gap

Over 18,000 people, ages 0-109, were reached through the Sioux County Conservation Board’s Environmental Education Program this past year. Just think, with the addition of the Sioux County Nature Center, even more people could be reached! With this new building, we project the following numbers:

+ 1,500 more students reached through field trips

+ 1,000 people could attend public programs and events

+ 250 more kids at summer camp

+ 200 civic groups, nursing home visits

+ Unknown number of families, individuals, colleges, self-led groups

With the Sioux County Nature Center we could reach close to an additional 3,000+ program participants in our naturalist lead programs. It is estimated that we could also see an additional 14,000+ visitors to the center in the first year.

The Sioux County Conservation Foundation needs to close a $1.1 million gap by January 10, 2018 to receive an Enhance Iowa Grant to finish the project.

Will you partner with us to reach our year-end impact goal to connect our youth, elderly and families with the outdoors?

Get involved by clicking HERE to make your tax deductible gift to the Sioux County Nature Center Campaign. You may also make checks payable to Sioux County Conservation Foundation and mail them to the following:

Sioux County Conservation Foundation
Nature Center Campaign
1603 Oak Grove Road
Hawarden, IA 51023

Thank you for your support!

Bank of the Future Campaign Results

During the National Education Week in November, our local FFA chapters organized and carried out a coin drive for their area to raise funds and awareness for the new Nature Center.
Five teams were organized:

Hawarden & Ireton were led by West Sioux National Honor Society.

Hull & Boyden were led by Boyden Hull FFA chapter and Western FFA chapter.

Orange City, Alton, Hospers and Granville were led by MOC FFA chapter and Unity FFA chapter.

Rock Valley was led by Rock Valley FFA chapter.

Sioux Center was led by Sioux Center FFA chapter.

Each group was given information, provided by SCCF, which could be sent home to school kids in their area to participate in the coin drive. They were also encouraged to get their communities involved. Flyers were also provided if groups choose to use them. How each group carried out their campaign was up to them. Some groups placed collection jars in various businesses, banks, schools, some had a ‘bake’ sale, and others took it as far as to organize matching gifts from some local businesses. Together all the FFA chapters were able to raise $4,685.46! And for pride, here are team’s contributions:

1st Rock Valley Team: $2,758.66

2nd Hull/Boyden Team: $795.42

3rd Sioux Center Team: $559.92

4th Orange City/Alton/Hospers/Granville Team: $505.90

5th Hawarden Team: $65.56

Regardless of what they raised, the other goal of the Bank of the Future Campaign was to get the word out about the Nature Center Project. Several members of the community came up to staff members and expressed they had no idea about the project and they were excited to hear ads on the radio and see flyers around town. The Sioux County Conservation Foundation would like to give:

“a huge thank you to our local FFA chapters and National Honor Society for all of their hard work and to everyone who participated in making the Bank on the Future Campaign a success!”

If you missed the coin drive and would like to make a gift towards the Nature Center Project check out the Nature Center webpage and hit the donate button!

Iowa’s 2017 Shotgun Deer Season Fast Approaching

The first of Iowa’s popular shotgun deer season is December 2-6, 2017 when an expected 60,000 orange clad hunters head to the timber.  That group will be followed by another 60,000 hunters who prefer the second shotgun season December 9-17, 2017 according to a news release by the Iowa DNR.

Iowa hunters will have a new option this year while hunting deer during the youth season, disabled hunter season and both shotgun seasons. Rifles that are capable of shooting straight walled cartridges, click here for more details.

Few tips/reminders of safety of hunting season:

  • Do not wait to purchase your deer license.
  • Report your harvest; can be done online, over the phone, or at a licensed vendor.  Deer must be reported by the hunter whose name is on the tag and must be reported before midnight, the day after the deer is tagged.  Reporting your harvest is important because it’s required by law first of all and numbers are used to manage Iowa’s Deer herds annually.
  • Deer tissue samples.  The Iowa DNR’s wildlife staff will continue collecting tissue samples to test for presence of Chronic Wasting Disease in Iowa’s wild deer herd.  Samples are collected both by voluntary contributions of samples from local hunters, and when wildlife staff checks hunters in the field or at home processing points. More details can be found here.
  • Turn in Poachers.  See something while out in the field that doesn’t look right?  You can report concerns by calling 1-800-532-2020 as soon as possible, please provide as much information as possible including, individual, vehicle, time, and location descriptions.  You may remain anonymous.
  • Treat every gun as if it is loaded, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Unload the firearm and open the action, especially when crossing obstacles.
  • Wear plenty of blaze orange, you want to be seen from all angles in the woods and fields. Deer Hunters must wear one of the following articles of external visible solid blaze orange clothing when hunting deer with a firearm: vest, jacket, coat, sweatshirt, sweater, shirt or coveralls. A blaze orange hat alone is not sufficient.
  • Be sure to know the gun and practice with it before the season opens to get reacquainted with it.
  • Know the target and what is beyond it.
  • Do not shoot at running deer.
  • Discuss the hunting plan with everyone in the group. Outline what each person is going to do and where to be throughout the hunt. Plan your hunt and hunt your plan. Communication is critical to ensure safety.
  • Bundle up- keeping your finger off the trigger and muzzle control are both extremely important as bulky coats and gloves increases chances of an accidental discharge.
  • Most hunting in Iowa is done on private land. Hunters should touch base with landowners prior to season opening to get permission to hunt the area.

The DNR Reports of first hunting related injury occurring in southwestern Wright County.  Hunter was pheasant hunting on Boone River Greenbelt Conservation Board Public Hunting Area with three other hunters when he was hit in the back by bird shot from another hunter’s 12 gauge shotgun. The shotgun was reported to be lying on the ground when a hunting dog stepped on the trigger guard causing it to discharge hitting the hunter in the back nearly 22 yards away.  Injuries were non-life threatening.

This information was taken from the Iowa DNR public press release.

Snowy Owl

“If you see what looks to be a large, white bucket standing in a field, get out the binoculars and take a closer look- you may be seeing a Snowy Owl!” -Rebecca Christoffel, Iowa State University Extension wildlife specialist.

Birders around Iowa are being treated to a rare gift this year, as Snowy Owls are moving south from the Tundra. Movement of the birds into the lower 48 states isn’t such a treat for them, explains Rebecca Christoffel, Iowa State University Extension wildlife specialist. “It signals trouble for them.”

Snowy Owls are large birds, with bright white plumage flecked with black and have beautiful yellow eyes. Typically perched on haystacks, fence posts, knolls or dunes these birds stand 20-27 inches tall. These birds are from the open tundra; and nesting on the ground. The snowy owl preys chiefly on lemmings, hunting by day as well as at night.

Snowy Owls began arriving in the upper Midwest in October and have continued to increase in number as the season has progressed.  Most movements of this sort, called irruptions, are thought to be caused by a crash in important prey population; lemmings in this case. Under these conditions, younger, more inexperienced birds are forced to move south. People are keeping track of Snowy Owl sightings in the U.S.

“More than 40 Snowy Owls have been reported in Iowa to date.” Said Christoffel. Unfortunately also to this date, six mortalities have been reported due to starvation or roadkill.

Christoffel recommends Iowan’s fortunate enough to see Snowy Owls should report their sightings to Steve Dinsmore of ISU Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at cootjr@iastate.edu so their movement can be adequately tracked this year. Or feel free to contact our administration office (712) 552-1047 or email Sunday Ford at sundayf@siouxcounty.org.

Information obtained from: Iowa State University Extension, National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Snowy Owl reports

Friends, please email sundayf@siouxcounty.org with any snowy owl findings. Naturalists in Iowa are documenting location of sightings. This may be another Fall/Winter of seeing a large population in Iowa.

New Website!

Sioux County Conservation Board is excited to roll out its new website!  This site has all the information pertaining to the programs and activities sponsored by the conservation board, along with all the recreation options offered throughout the county. You will also find information about all of our parks and so much more!

With the new site we are able to offer online access to our current program listing, field trips, and other programs.  As always we are open to developing new programs to fit your groups need.  We will be updating our programs with science standards soon!  New we will offer online request form for those looking for a program.

As the foundation continues to work towards their fundraising goal of the nature center we are now able to accept donations through the website.

New features:

Program request form

Nature Center updates

Online donation for the Sioux County Conservation Foundation to help fund the nature center project

Coming in 2018 we will be offering online reservations for our cabins, enclosed shelters and a portion of our campsites to making planning that next family reunion, wedding, retreat or other event easier for your group to do so.  There will be a large section of our campsites that remain available on a first come first served basis, as they have been in the past.

So take a few minutes and check out our new website.

Campgrounds closed for season

As the air turns colder and the possibility of snow showers as to rain starts coming through the weather channel it is that time of year again when we have to start winterizing our restrooms. As of October 22, 2017 the following campground have been closed for the season: Deer Run (Oak Grove), Meadowlark and Eagle View (Big Sioux Rec. Area), and Sandy Hollow. Turkey Ridge Campground remains open including the restroom facility at this time.

Online Reservations

As we look forward to a fast approaching new year we are excited to announce a new change to our reservations process.  We are hopeful to have our four cabins, enclosed shelters and a few select campsites available online for you to book your next family gathering.  We are looking at restructuring our rate fees for the new season at this time as well.  If you have not done so already please follow the link below to get your free account registered on the mycounntyparks website that we will be taking reservations through. https://www.mycountyparks.com/AccountRegistration.aspx