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Camping, hiking, bird watching and other outdoor activities ready to begin

CERRO GORDO COUNTY – The recent weather has many outdoor enthusiasts enjoying spring recreational opportunities.  Each activity may range from camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, multi-use trails or wildlife viewing.  Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board offers all these recreational opportunities close to home for individuals, families and friends to enjoy.

CGCCB offers camping opportunities in 5 campground areas.  Lime Creek Conservation Area is “Hike In Only/Primitive” where individuals must obtain a permit from the office prior to camping.  The Shell Rock River Greenbelt Preserve also provides primitive camping on a first come first serve basis.  The remaining 3 areas are modern campground facilities.  These areas are Wilkinson Park in Rock Falls, Linn Grove Park in Rockwell and Ingebretson Park in Thornton.  All three areas include modern shower house facilities, 30 amp electrical service, dump station and fresh water.  The camping rates in the 3 modern campgrounds will remain the same in 2012 at $7.00 without electrical and $12 with electrical service.  The 2011 season review for CGCCB included over 4100 registered camping nights which calculated to over $47,000 in campground revenue for the modern campgrounds.  Revenue from each park goes back to that specific parks special account for future maintenance and improvements within that area.  Recent improvements include Linn Grove and Wilkinson shower house updates.  The updates included tile work for the showers, floors and sink walls with new restroom fixtures and partitions installed.  Continued improvements within the areas will be interior ceiling sheeting at Linn Grove shower house and exterior siding at Wilkinson shower house.  Future improvements may include Ingebretson interior shower house facility updates.

Canoeing opportunities that CGCCB offers range from calm marsh water, lakes or steady current of a river depending on the objective of your trip.  CGCCB manages two marsh areas that are canoe accessible which are Mallard Marsh and Zirbel Slough.  Both areas provide access to two bodies of shallow water to canoe.  Mid-sized water with easy accessibility would include Fin & Feather Lake and Bluebill Lake.  Both bodies of water have no current but have deep water which could also provide fishing opportunities.  The two rivers within the county include the Shell Rock River and Winnebago River.  Both rivers flow through multiple areas with canoe access points that CGCCB manages.  Popular access points along the Shell Rock River include Strand Park, Wilkinson Park and multiple points within the Shell Rock River Greenbelt.  Kuhn Wildlife Area, Kingfisher Hollow, Averydale Access and Claybanks Forest are access points along the Winnebago River.  For all canoeing opportunities be aware of potential hazards in water, do not attempt float trips during high water and always wear your life jacket (PFD).

Fishing opportunities within CGCCB areas are numerous but a few popular areas include the Winnebago River, Shell Rock River, Fin & Feather Lake and Bluebill Lake.  All areas are accessible from shore with Fin & Feather Lake and Bluebill Lake providing boat ramps.  Fish species that may be caught include catfish, northern pike, rock bass and small mouth bass within the rivers.  Large mouth bass, bluegill, crappie and catfish might be caught at area lakes that CGCCB manages.  CGCCB has established a 15” minimum length limit on all large mouth bass that are caught from a CGCCB managed lake.  All other state fishing rules and regulations must be followed.

Spring turkey hunting is a challenging and popular activity for individuals.  CGCCB manages multiple areas that provide habitat and the opportunity to harvest a turkey.  Like all hunting opportunities individuals should explore and scout multiple areas to determine best location to attempt to harvest.  The general rule is that the more patience and more time invested usually contributes to more success.

Hiking, biking and horseback riding are all popular activities in the spring as well as throughout the entire year.  Lime Creek Conservation Area provides trails that can accommodate the above activities when weather permits.  Other popular areas include the Shell Rock River Greenbelt for hiking and horseback, Trolley Trail and Sisters’ Prairie Trail for biking and walking, and other smaller area trails located throughout CGCCB areas which are worthwhile to explore.  The area trails are utilized by many different user groups and therefore all users need to practice trail etiquette such as dogs leashed, animal waste removal and allowing other users to pass freely.

Wildlife viewing is an activity that all individuals can participate in regardless of their age or ability.  Individuals can watch birds feeding at a feeder or sit within a timber stand waiting for a deer or turkey to walk by.  All CGCCB areas provide opportunities for wildlife viewing throughout the entire year.  Lime Creek Conservation Area is a popular area to view because of the habitat diversity ranging from timber, prairie and wetlands.  The Nature Center also provides a great indoor opportunity to view birds and squirrels at the feeding stations.  Exploring different areas at different times will help diversify the species you may encounter.

Warm weather is here and hopefully to stay.  Many outdoor recreational opportunities can be enjoyed now as well as throughout the entire year.  Campgrounds will open May 4th weather permitting, canoeing and fishing has started, spring turkey hunting opportunities are approaching, area trails are open and wildlife viewing has started with spring migration.  Enjoy the great recreational opportunities close to home that Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board has to offer.  For more information or brochures please contact the Lime Creek Nature Center or visit the county web site at and click on Outdoors or Conservation Department.

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