POCAHONTAS - A half-century of preserving natural habitat is being marked this year by the Pocahontas County Conservation Board.
The board, established in 1964, now owns about 40 parks and wildlife areas.
''We just want people to know there are nice natural areas here in the county,'' Corinne Peterson, the board's naturalist, said Friday. ''While our main goal is to conserve the habitat for the wildlife, people are free to visit too.''
-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Corinne Peterson, naturalist for the Pocahontas County Conservation Board, introduces Maizey the corn snake during the group’s 50th anniversary open house Friday at the board’s headquarters near Rosenberger Park. She said the snake is on the verge of shedding its skin.
Peterson and the rest of the board's staff greeted the public Friday during a 50th anniversary open house held at the group's headquarters near Rosenberger Park on the north side of Pocahontas.
The main display room of that headquarters building is now dominated by a large white replica of a snake skeleton. It's part of a traveling exhibit on snakes put together by Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind., for the 2004 Indiana State Fair. Secure in her habitat beneath the skeleton replica is Maizey, the conservation board's resident corn snake.
By late afternoon, about 50 people had visited the open house.
A state law passed in 1955 led to the establishment of county conservation boards.
The Pocahontas County Conservation Board was created in November 1964, according to Peterson,
The following year, Elmer Rosenberger, for whom the park is named, was hired as the first board director. It was a part-time position then.
''He was the one who kind of started up the park system,'' Peterson said.
She said many of the board's properties are prairies that were restored for pheasant habitat.
The most heavily used park, she said, is Meredith Park north of Plover. Coopers Cove Park in the southeastern corner of the county is also very popular, she said.
Melson Park, which opened in 2007 along the Three Rivers Trail, is the board's newest park.
In 1990, the board launched the environmental education programs that Peterson now conducts. She said about 5,000 people a year participate in those programs and classroom activities.
Among other things, the board conducts an annual tree and shrub sale and manages vegetation along county roads.
Peterson said the board will conduct another 50th anniversary event in the summer or fall.