The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will continue its 25th anniversary activities today during the annual Poker Ride on the Raccoon River Valley Trail in Dallas County. Anita O’Gara,the Foundation’s Vice President and Director of Development, says her organization has worked jointly with local leaders to preserve natural areas in Iowa. O’Gara says the Raccoon River Valley Trail is a good example of that. It crosses three counties, a lot of communities, and her group was able to purchase the corridor, and then work with the counties to raise the funds and get the jurisdiction transferred to the counties for public use. The project began in the late 1980’s. Now the Dallas County Conservation Department has just completed a resurfacing project on half the trail which will be rededicated today (Saturday). O’Gara says there may be similar projects in store for central Iowa. She says the railroad between Woodward and Slater and down toward Ankeny is proposed for abandonment, and the Heritage Foundation is negotiating to acquire that corridor now. Once acquired and converted for trail use, this would create a 100 mile loop trail in which you could use the Raccoon River Valley Trail for a portion and loop back toward the metro area. O’Gara says if the plan materializes, it would be good for communities along the route. O’Gara says lots of people would love to see that kind of loop because that’s a great attraction for people outside to come and enjoy an extended vacation. For now, O’Gara says today’s activities will appeal to casual bicyclists and nature lovers. She says it’s a great way to see different parts of the trail, enjoy a leisurely ride – not a race – but a leisurely ride that will take you through some great, beautiful, natural areas, and some historic sites as well. The free event gets under way this morning at nine a-m in Redfield.
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