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SIOUX CITY | People going to Bigelow Park/Brown's Lake near Salix, Iowa, will have the opportunity to use new recreational options in 2013.

"This will be the first season that all the new improvements are done there," said Woodbury County Conservation Board Director Rick Schneider.

The additions include a new storm shelter that campers can use in bad weather, a renovated campground, new sand volleyball area and refurbished pits for horseshoe games. The next addition coming at Bigelow Park in a few years will involve having access to water lines for electrical campers, Schneider said.

Woodbury County has 16 parks, natural areas, public hunting areas, wetlands and preserves encompassing more than 5,500 acres. The last addition came with a 30-acre piece added onto Little Sioux Park in 2008.

The most recognizable parks are Little Sioux Park near Correctionville, Snyder Bend Park near Salix, and Bigelow Park/Brown's Lake.

Schneider said the overall package gives a lot of options for outdoor lovers.

"We've try to offer a little bit of everything," he said. "We've got a wide variety of recreation areas for people to enjoy, whether it is just river access sites or fully-developed parks or public hunting areas with some trails. There are a wide variety of activities for people to enjoy."

Schneider said past practice has been to focus on upgrading one park for a few years, then moving onto another park, rotating the improvements. Those steps over the last 15 years delivered renovated campgrounds, trails and cabins that can be rented by the day in various parks.

One project to be built in 2013 involves one or two ramp accesses to Little Sioux Park for people kayaking or canoeing on the Little Sioux River.

"We will probably have bids in April," Schneider said. "We are still waiting to hear on a grant application too that will help. If we get the grant, we can probably do two accesses."

At the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center operated by the county within Stone State Park, a few injured raptors will be available for viewing.

Another Nature Center piece will be the addition of an outdoor playscape about one-fourth of a mile beyond the facility.

The playscape will include a large spider web for climbing, a digging area, a multi-level treehouse and a hollow to craw through.

Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center Education Program Director Dawn Snyder said the playscape is needed since many kids spend 40 hours a week in front of a screen of some type.

"The concept is a play area out in a forest to engage kids in nature exploration," Snyder said.

Construction is set to begin later in the spring and should be finished by June.

Additionally, the north shoreline of the lake within Snyder Bend Park will be firmed up with rocks this year, toward the goal of solving the bank erosion problem that has plagued Snyder Lake in recent years.

The county received a $30,690 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to pay for the work. Schneider said the bank has been undermined by animal digging, plus Missouri River flooding that reached the lake in summer 2011 worsened the situation.

"We've been losing shoreline slowly for a number of years. The flood really accelerated that problem," he said.

Schneider said some park users won't embrace the change, since boaters have gotten used to landing along the shoreline. That won't be possible with the sizable rocks.

The replacement of trees that were uprooted during the 2011 flooding is also continuing at Snyder Bend Park.

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County and education reporter

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