By Jerry Neff
Last week I went for a walk at a brand new recreational area in eastern Scott County, Iowa. The purpose of my walk was to scout a new area with an artificial lake and environs officially known as Lost Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area. I was scheduled to lead a Sierra Club midwinter outing and I wanted to check the depth of the snow and see if the ice was safe enough to walk on.
It was a warm day for February, 40+ degrees, there were holes in the ice left by fishermen indicating the ice was more than 5 or 6 inches thick and along the shore line there was ten to 12 inches of snow so unless one was on snowshoes, the ice was a much easier place to walk and explore.
A new wilderness? Well sort of, out in the middle of the ice it was very quiet, no sound of a highway or train whistle and not a farmhouse in sight. If I had come for solitude I was in the right place. The entire area including the lake is 1700 acres. An earthen dam was built across Lost Grove Creek and has now brought the lake level to about 3/4 full. Depending on rainfall the lake should be full within a year. Most of the watershed nearby has been planted with prairie grass so the lake should have minimal siltation. Development of the area will be limited, right now there are no toilets. There are two boat ramps, the entire lake is NO WAKE and there will be hiking trails. Canoeists will enjoy this place.
During my exploration walk I became aware of something strange. In that still environment I had not seen any wildlife to manage. Not a bird or a rabbit or a fox or a muskrat house, but I did see deer tracks. It was a Saturday afternoon so maybe the wildlife were dug into the snow and taking a nap.
The idea of Lost Grove Lake was hatched more than 30 years ago when the Iowa DNR and some Scott County Supervisors decided a growing population needed a place to fish and relax in the great outdoors. During this 30 year period land was slowly acquired. Some land was in estates so some of the acquisitions were delayed until someone died. None of the farmland was taken by eminent domain and it is all paid for. We can certainly be thankful to those who came before us who looked to the future in an unselfish way so that we can live their dream.
Photo Credit: Mike Wilcox