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New nature preserve to open near Milford – Sioux City Journal

MILFORD, Iowa — Tuesday’s grand opening ceremonies for the 35-acre Pioneer Park Nature Preserve will highlight the beginning of Pioneer Days, as Milford celebrates the 125th anniversary of its incorporation in 1892.

“We are excited to show residents and visitors our newest area, which is of both historical and environmental significance in Dickinson County,” said Dickinson County Conservation Board community relations coordinator Kiley Roth. “Because of its location off of Highway 71, we think this will be a popular place to bird watch and go for afternoon walks.”

The preserve, just south of Milford on U.S. Highway 71, was the site of the 1869 gristmill that inspired the growth of the Dickinson County community. The mill drew farmers from a wide area who camped there while waiting for their grain to be processed.

Now, Roth says the 35-acre park is home to more than 75 native plant species, such as purple cone flower, stiff sunflower and purple prairie clover; and more than 40 bird species, including the common nighthawk, field sparrow, dickcissel, bald eagle and osprey.

“You might even spot skunks, deer and other beautiful wildlife,” she said.

The park will be open for fishing in Milford Creek, which is home to a variety of game fish, including spawning walleye and northern pike each spring.

Future plans for the area include mowed trails for strolling and bird watching as well as the construction of a kayak and biking trail head.

Funding for the project came from a $75,600 Iowa Department of Natural Resources Resource Enhancement And Protection (REAP) grant, along with what Roth termed “a bargain sale” from the previous owners, Mike and Linda Knudtson, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s Foote Fund, the Dickinson County Conservation Board, and gifts from local donors.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation purchased the property from the Knudtsons for $136,000 in 2013.

Linda Knudtson said last week they didn’t want to see the property they purchased in 1989 developed any further. “We felt was a very natural part of Milford, because it had the original mill that was the reason Milford became Milford.”

The stone foundation of some of the original mill buildings, are still on the property that is a part of what has become known as “Old Town Milford.”

Knudtson said she and her husband “had SB© toyed with the idea of dividing the area into eight or 10 acreages and selling them as lots. But now we’ll be able to see the entire park from our windows. And our kids and grandkids can still go down there and play on the same ground where they’ve played for the last 27 years.”

The Dickinson County Conservation Board owns and maintains more than 10 public areas and parks.

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