After owning the 1,000 acre property at Clover Woods Camp and Retreat Center for seven decades and receiving over 75 bids for the land, Iowa’s 4-H Foundation has announced a potential deal to sell the property to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF).
“There are a lot of Iowans or 4-Her’s that see this place as a really special place, where they went to camp and learned about nature during the summers,” Joe Jayjack, the communications director for INHF said. “We’re really happy that it will still be open to the public in some form.”
Although the sale of Clover Woods has been verbally approved by both parties, it will not officially close until the end of December, Jayjack said.
Some of the key characteristics that many of the visitors will never forget are the high quality oak-hickory woodlands, priceless views of the Des Moines River valley, and even ancient Native American burial mounds at the park located about 11 miles northwest of Madrid.
INHF is a statewide non-profit conservation group whose mission is to protect and restore Iowa’s land, water and wildlife, Jayjack said.
“We (conserve places) in a lot of different ways, but the most common way is to buy and protect the land,” he said.
Generally the organization will purchase land as an interim owner and work with public agencies to try and turn it into public land. They also work with some private land owners as well.
Although the deal is in motion and set to be finalized in the near future, INHF is still figuring out what to do with the 1,011 acres of land.
“Usually we have a better idea what (our purchases) future use will be, but this came up pretty quick, and our first priority was to make sure (the land) is protected,” Jayjack said. “We’ve been working with the Department of Natural Resources who might be interested in ownership and management, while also talking to our board and staff members to get a feeling for what everyone would like to do.”
He said the importance of being responsible and using the most appropriate methods to assure public use and protecting the environment.
Clover Woods was purchased by Iowa 4-H in the late 40’s when it was only 500 acres of fairground land. Over the next seven decades it doubled in size and was turned into a five village campsite.
While each section had a main lodge and dining hall; the camp also had a swimming pool, low rope course, a climbing wall, zip lining course and over a dozen miles of hiking trails.
Iowa 4-H announced in September that it was planning on selling the property after the amount of visitors was declining annually, and the amount of money it took to preserve the area was beginning to be too much, said Emily Saveraid, the executive director of Iowa 4-H.
“It is still bittersweet, but knowing that the property will remain intact … and knowing it’ll be protected and preserved is a comforting feeling, and makes us feel better about the future,” Saveraid said. “
But luckily for the people that have shared laughs and smores over the fire pit, hiked down one of the many trails or met a lifelong friend at Clover Wood, INHF is devoted to preserving the land, Jayjack said.
“This is a really special place for a lot of reasons, and we’re just really happy that we are able to protect it,” he said.