Board cancels contracts, reviews its recently completed projects

By John Butters, The JOURNAL


A popular program used by the Washington County Conservation Board in its campground has been terminated, due to liability concerns.

The board is ending its campground host program at Marr Park, due to liability concerns for the hosts.

Executive Director Steve Anderson said that though the hosts are not paid, they receive camping privileges that could qualify them as county employees.

?At that point, it becomes a liability issue with concerns about worker compensation and other legal difficulties,? he said.

It is possible that the program could be reinstated at a later date after further legal review and guidance from the county, he said.

Similarly, those individuals with firewood-harvesting permits will be asked to sign new contracts drawn-up by the county?s legal department. The previous contracts were cancelled due to liability concerns for the contractors and uncertainties regarding responsibility for damages caused to county or private property during harvesting.

In other business, the board reviewed a list of completed projects.

Those projects include the repair or replacement of decaying picnic tables. The number of tables placed in parks by the board totals 100, with 40 now having been replaced.

A new three-quarter-ton Dodge pickup, fitted with the latest law enforcement software, has been placed in service. The software includes the ability to file and issue tickets and connect to the county communications center.

The Foster Woods pond and shelter project is largely complete.

The pond is beginning to fill and the board is considering re-stocking it with fish this year.

The Branching Out enhancement project along the Washington portion of the Kewash Trail was completed earlier this month. Dead and decaying wood along the path was removed and replaced by approximately 800 trees and shrubs.

?That project went very well. Now it is time for trail maintenance,? Anderson said.

Species planted along the trail include Service Berry, Hazle Nut, Cypress, Red Bud and Plum.

?The mid-story trees and bushes will provide cover and food for birds and other wildlife,? said Anderson.

The plantings will also provide a green buffer between the trail and the roadway, he said.

?A cluster of Red Buds will bloom at the point where the trail crosses Highway 1, so that people driving into Washington will be met be a very attractive entrance,? Anderson said.

The trail is scheduled for a re-paving project paid for by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) under their Transportation Alternative Program.

The agency will let the bids on the project and choose the contractors.