Washington Evening Journal
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Jefferson County Conservation plans new campground for county park
FAIRFIELD — Jefferson County Conservation is planning to expand Jefferson County Park by adding a 15-stall campground within the next few years.
The conservation department recently learned that it had received a $450,000 grant from the state of Iowa for this new campground, which will be called Jefferson County Prairie Ridge Campground. That amount is 39 percent of the total project cost, expected to be just under $1.17 million.
The grant was one of a few dozen the state awarded as part of the Iowa Economic Department Authority’s Destination Iowa projects. The state announced it had distributed $26.88 million to tourism and quality-of-life attractions, and later announced a further $15 million to rural projects that did not receive funding in previous rounds, such as Jefferson County’s.
Jefferson County Conservation Director Shawn Morrissey said this new campground will be east of Jefferson County Park. The conservation department owns 40 acres east of the original park, and that land is either undeveloped or is being used to grow corn and soybeans. The campground will be on a 10-acre patch near Key Boulevard, and the plan is for the public to access the campground from Key Boulevard.
“We have a 40-year-old campground that is basically full,” Morrissey said. “It’s down in a valley, and it’s pretty condensed already. If we wanted to add more sites to the existing campground, there isn’t room.”
The new campground will have electric, water and sewer connections for 15 stalls, which will be larger than the current stalls.
“A lot of the sites at our old campground are too small for these big, modern campers,” Morrissey said. “This new campground will be geared toward the current trend in camping, which is large motor homes and trailers.”
Morrissey said there is no firm timetable for this project, though he hopes construction will begin by next summer. The grant stipulates that the money must be spent by 2026.
“Right now, there are no roads, water or electric going there,” he said. “It’s a blank slate, so it will be a couple of years before it’s open to the public.”
Architectural designs from the firm Shive-Hattery show that Jefferson County Park could expand further north, with a multipurpose lodge, shelter, nature playscape and a pair of four-season cabins. Morrissey said those are ideas for down the road, and are not being funded by the Destination Iowa grant.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org