Members of the Guttenberg Rotary Club gathered for their weekly meeting at Big Springs Nature Park along Great River Road north of Guttenberg, where new member Dennis McNeal is coordinating a Rotary project to continue improving the park with more visible signage, handrails, upkeep on the Rotary-sponsored park shelter, and potentially even a portable restroom.
The Rotary’s ideas for improvement will add to Eagle Scout Logan Peterson’s recent trail project at Big Springs. Last July, Peterson cut down nettles and plants and laid gravel to help keep the trail from getting muddy from its base up to the springs. The project also included a natural crossing point across the water and trail work on its other side. “The last thing I want to do is disturb the flow of nature here,” he told The Press.
Youth may be getting involved at Big Springs again this summer, with guidance from McNeal and other Rotary members. Clayton Ridge agriculture educator and Future Farmers of America leader Carolyn Ihde attended Thursday’s meeting and hiked up to the springs with Rotary members.
“A big part of FFA is to service your community and others, and so we’re trying to build that relationship in the community,” Ihde explained. The group was looking for a place to start when she got a call from a Rotary member requesting help with the Big Springs project.
“There are eight different pathways we discuss in agriculture, and natural resources are one of them – my students just took a test on natural resources and forests,” said Ihde. “I’ve been looking for a place to bring them that’s close, so this is exciting for me.”
McNeal spoke with city officials and learned that the park was originally meant to be a natural, no-mow area, and wildflowers were planted along Great River Road at the park entrance. “Since then they’ve done some road work and introduced weeds and multi-flower rose, so we want to clean up that area. The city is going to get involved in seeding down wildflowers to make it more attractive from the road, and we decided to do more signage at the entrance to the park and in both directions on Great River Road,” McNeal told The Press.
The park is currently denoted by one small sign on Great River Road, and its entrance can be difficult to see with prolific plant growth.
McNeal and other Rotary members spoke of bringing their children and grandchildren to Big Springs, and one member even got married on the trail last summer.
The Guttenberg Rotary Club plans to fund the potential improvements as part of their annual endowment payout, $2,000, from the Rod and Mary Jo Tangeman Family Endowment for the Guttenberg Rotary Club.
Photo by the author.