The governor and lieutenant governor are scheduled to visit a park in southeast Iowa today. David Long, executive director of the Keokuk County Conservation Board, says Governor Branstad – before he first left office in 1999 – approved a $400,000 appropriation to help create Lake Belva Deer Recreation Area near Sigourney.
“Since then, he has not been back to see what the money went towards,” Long says. “So, we are doing a dedication and thought it was appropriate – since he is our governor again – for him to come back and see what took place and how nice the park actually is.”
The park covers just over 1,600 acres and includes a man-made lake that was constructed in 2001. Some of the park’s amenities include 56 “modern” camp sites, five cabins, walking trails, horse trails, a beach and several picnic shelters.
But, the biggest draw is Lake Belva Deer itself. “Our fishing…is one of the best in the state. It’s a 260 acre no-wake lake,” Long said.
Governor Branstad, Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and former Iowa Department of Natural Resources director Larry Wilson are scheduled to take a tour of Lake Belva Deer park at 3 p.m. and then speak at a ceremony at 4 p.m.
The odd name for the park, by the way, comes from Belva Humphreys. In 1971, Belva and her husband Steve sold the first piece of land to Keokuk County for the creation of the park.
“That was part of the agreement that her name would be in the title of the park,” Long said. “I’ve heard two different reasons how they got the ‘deer.’
Keokuk County has always been known for the amount of deer that we have in the county. But, family members of Steve and Belva Humphreys tell me that Belva liked to talk and her husband would always say ‘yes, dear…yes, dear,’ so Belva Deer is the name of it.”