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Lake Darling prepares for 2020 centennial

GTNS photo by David Hotle

Lake Darling is beginning to wake up after the long winter and already the employees at the state park are planning events to prepare for the statewide 2020 celebration of the Iowa Parks System.
GTNS photo by David Hotle Lake Darling is beginning to wake up after the long winter and already the employees at the state park are planning events to prepare for the statewide 2020 celebration of the Iowa Parks System.
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BRIGHTON - The year 2020, which marks the 100-year anniversary of the Iowa’s state parks, will be a yearlong celebration and Lake Darling State Park is already working to make sure the year is a special one.

During an informational meeting about what has been happening at the park over the past year and what is coming up, park ranger Zach Haworth Tuesday evening, explained that the park has already used state money for several projects this year. He said money, which is being given to all Iowa state parks and recreational areas to prepare for the coming celebration, has been used to install new carpet in the Four Seasons Lodge and to complete grading on the new 140-foot pedestrian bridge.

“We don’t want to just have a birthday party in the park, we want to make this a big deal,” Tom Basten, Southeast Iowa parks district supervisor, said. “This is a big deal. This is your park. ”

The theme for the 2020 event is “celebrate, connect, inspire.” Basten said the idea for the employees at Lake Darling is to celebrate the heritage of the park system, connect people who enjoy using the facilities and inspire people to consider what the park system will be like over the next 100 years.

In the coming month, he said, the parks will be working with the Friends groups to schedule special event throughout 2020. He promises there will be more on that coming.

Haworth said Lake Darling State Park is counting on volunteers to help prepare the park throughout the coming year.

During the coming year, the park also plans to expand the walking trail in the park. Currently the trail leads from the campground to the new bridge. It will be expanded in several areas, including a trail to Highway 78 to handle a possible future trail leading from Brighton to the park. Basten also said the cabins and the lodge would be restained and sand would be added to the beaches and playgrounds.

Basten said 2019 would be the “year of the volunteer.” He commented that the Friends of Lake Darling group was known for its volunteer work. He encouraged them to help recruit young people to help at the park. He also encouraged people who volunteer to do work at the park to check in with park empoloyees to help record the hours worked. He said it helps show legislators the importance of the park in the area.

“I love Lake Darling and I think the spirit of Lake Darling is represented by this,” Friends member Bob Shepherd said.