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Steve Anderson plans to open 2019 by taking the entire month of January off. Then, the former executive director of the Washington County Conservation Board (WCCB) “will see what to do” for the rest of the year and beyond.
Only the second director in WCCB history, Anderson officially retires Dec. 31 after a 37-year tenure that saw WCCB parks, preserves and programs expand across 2,100 acres that includes the Kewash bike and hike trail, a refurbished Clemons Creek gun range, a top Conservation Education Center and thousands attending WCCB programs and events.
Anderson is quick to credit the foresight of the conservation board members who were still “defining their roles” when he was hired.
That role included land acquisitions, more facilities and personnel and, most important from the very beginning, “land management and preservation of it for future generations.”
“When I was hired, there were three employees,” Anderson said.
Today, with part-time season employers, it is 10 times that, and “now, there is more administrative work.”
An important addition is the 28E Agreement with the county sheriff’s department that has increased the law enforcement powers of the WCCB’s park rangers.
In fact, two of the rangers have formal police training including one who has five years with the sheriff’s department.
Anderson, who said he is primarily a botanist/conservationist, admitted he will miss a job that he has loved, but “it is the right time.”
While there are no far-reaching travel plans, he and his wife intend to see “many if not all the recreation areas in Iowa. There are so many great outdoor facilities everywhere,” including Washington County, where outdoor recreation is “an integral part of our area.”
Of course he plans to fish (“a lot”), including the newly restored Foster Woods near Wellman, where the reshaped and cleared pond is “now nearly full.” It also has been stocked with fish.
Easily the top facility in the WCCB holdings is the Conservation Education Center at Marr Park, which is both the administrative center for the board and its prime educational facility.
Anderson credits both the board and the Washington County supervisors with making the facility possible, as well as the tremendous support from the public.
Another equally important project is the Kewash Trail that this year saw paving of the trail from Washington to Keota.
The WCCB currently is advertising for Anderson’s replacement and planning to have the individual hired before the yearend to allow some overlap between the retiring and incoming directors.
Would he consider doing consulting work?
While not ruling it out completely, he said “not for a while.”