Lease awarded for part of prairie preserve

Supervisors discuss transportation alternative program for portion of road and trail system

A portion of county land was awarded in a lease agreement at Tuesday’s Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting, and some of that land will be part of a soil conservation program.

“The Klauenberg Prairie Preserve came to us a handful of years ago; we’ve been slowly converting pasture ground to the native prairie vegetation,” said Marshall County Conservation Director Mike Stegmann of the prairie preserve located near Van Cleve. “We had three bidders at the conservation board meeting on February 12; the high bid went to C&C Farms.”

That bid totals $190 per acre on 89.27 acres from the prairie preserve, totaling $16,619.30 per year. The lease agreement is for three years, running from April 1, 2018 to Feb. 28, 2021.

“Also, roughly 19 acres of the crop ground will now be part of a soil conservation program called STRIPS,” Stegmann said. “What that involves is planting native vegetation strips right through the crop ground in rows.”

He said the program is being performed in conjunction with Iowa State University staff. The STRIPS program stands for “science-based trials of rowcrops integrated with prairie strips,” according to the ISU website; it is meant to give farmers an affordable way to reduce runoff from farm fields, provide a habitat for pollinators and more.

The board also adopted a resolution to apply for roadway and trail improvements from the Region 6 Planning Commission. The area to be covered would be 10 gravel road sections between 233rd Street and Glick Avenue along the U.S. Highway 330 trail.

“We thought there’s a place here where we could actually be eligible for transportation alternatives funding and to benefit our road system and to benefit the trail system that we already have,” said County Engineer Paul Geilenfeldt, comparing the program to agreements between the county and the Iowa Department of Transportation to pave county roads near their intersections with primary roads. “It would be similar to what we’ve already done with the paved road fillets, except we would extend them out far enough that it would cover the places where this trail crosses our county roads.”

Board Chairman Bill Patten said he liked the idea from a safety standpoint.

“I think the safety aspect alone is worth this whole thing,” he said.

The application to Region 6 will be for $144,000 of the estimated $180,000 total cost for the project. The remaining $36,000 would be paid by the secondary roads department as a local match.

The board also set a public hearing date and time on a permit application for an existing confinement feeding operation at Tuesday’s meeting. That hearing will take place at 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 20 at the beginning of the board’s regular meeting that day.

The next Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 20 in meeting room No. 2 on the third floor of the Marshall County Courthouse, 1 E. Main St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com