Local News

March 15, 2010

Marion County project receives major gift from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

KNOXVILLE — A huge boost for the proposed Hickory Ridge Wilderness Camp on Lake Red Rock has come from a leading statewide, non-profit conservation organization.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has given $100,000 to help protect and restore the 47-acre woodland for back-to-nature experiences.

With this new gift from INHF, 80 percent of the funding for this $405,000 project is committed. Only about $80,000 is left to raise.

“This is very exciting,” said Eunice Folkerts, a project volunteer from Knoxville.

“This generous gift brings us so close to realizing a vision to save Hickory Ridge and turn it into a destination for those who love the outdoors,” continued Folkerts. “Now it’s just a question of when.”

The donation honors LaVonne and Jim Rippentrop, whose recent bequest to INHF makes the gift possible. The Rippentrops, who lived in Runnells before they passed away in 2007 and 2008, directed that the Foundation use half their gift for conservation purposes in Central Iowa and half to preserve the Loess Hills of Western Iowa.

Mark Ackelson, president of INHF, said, “With this gift, the Rippentrops join the ranks of the dozens of generous families whose gifts are bringing Hickory Ridge back to health as a great natural attraction. We’re proud to be helping the Red Rock Lake Association and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers rehabilitate what had become an eyesore into a place of natural beauty. Together we’re filling the need for a quiet place to experience nature at Lake Red Rock.”

The Hickory Ridge woodland, located on a quiet cove along the south shore of Lake Red Rock, is being purchased and restored, with plans to transfer it to the Corps to manage into the future as a natural public space. The camp will be opened only after fundraising is completed and the land transfers.

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