GRAND MOUND — After more than two decades, the Clinton County Conservation Board is planning to relinquish a partnership with the Scott County Conservation Department regarding their combined efforts at the Wapsi River Environmental Education Center.
Throughout the 22-year relationship, the Clinton County Conservation department has provided a variety of educational programming for the Wapsi River Center, but now as their attention is being aimed at growing the Mississippi River Eco-Tourism Center at Rock Creek Marina and Campground in Camanche, they have decided it is time to leave the joint effort behind.
“We’ve got more demand and more growth coming in this current year and it feels like we are way ahead of where we were a year ago,” Clinton County Environmental Education Coordinator Mark Roberts said. “Right now I’m thinking we’re spending resources, spending money, staff time, and I don’t feel they need us. I think we could get better use in places that are more important to us.”
While both parties have appreciated the relationship they have built with one another, they both understand that as their respective departments continue to grow, their energy needs to be focused on their own businesses.
Scott County Conservation Executive Director Roger Kean said he is sad to see the partnership with Clinton County end, but said his department has expected a change for quite some time now.
“With their new facility we assumed that over time they would probably spend less time at the Wapsi center,” Kean said. “It’s disappointing for us but they want to focus their programming on their new facility and that’s total understandable.”
With the approval of the Clinton County Conservation Board, the alliance with Scott County will end on July 1, 2015. Roberts’ reason for the extended departure is because he didn’t want it to interfere with Scott County’s budget season, an act that was appreciated by Kean.
Because he anticipated the end of the 22-year-old partnership, Kean included the addition of an educational naturalist to their 2014 budget to replace the loss they would feel when Clinton County pulled out of the Wapsi Center cooperation.
“There’s no doubt that not having their assistance is going to affect us, but we’ve actually put in a budget request this year for an additional naturalist to cover that loss,” Kean said.
As the two entities part ways, both agree that the work they have accomplished together is important to the region’s environmental education and hope that although there is no formal agreement, they can continue to work together on future projects.
“I think it’s important that we remain good neighbors and cooperate with each other in any way that we can,” Clinton County Conservation Executive Director Walt Wickham said. “I think it’s important to keep in a good relationship.”
The Clinton County Conservation Board will take a final vote on the issue on March 11 during their next monthly meeting.