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The Longest Loop Rolls Out to Help Fund Neste Valley Recreation Area!
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The Longest Loop Rolls Out to Help Fund Neste Valley Recreation Area!

A new fundraiser, The Longest Loop has launched in support of the Neste Valley Recreation Area just south of Decorah and the eventual construction of the Dry Run Trail. Neste Valley will be the first new recreation area purchased in 20 years for Winneshiek County Conservation, just south of Highways 9 and 52 near Decorah on the Neste Family Farm. The Dry Run Trail will eventually connect the Trout Run Trail through Neste Valley Recreation Area to the Prairie Farmer Trail reaching access to Calmar, Ridgeway, and Cresco. The Longest Loop is a century (100 mile) bike ride that will be completed by a small team of local cyclists to raise donations. The team of Dr. John Wilmes and Benji Nichols  will be riding on the Trout Run Trail in order to raise ongoing funds for these public projects. The event is based off of a previous successful fundraiser, “The Longest Day of Golf” that Decorah residents Jim Friest and LeRoy Kopriva completed for many years.

“We’ve been looking for a way to help support the Neste Valley project,” said Longest Loop organizer Benji Nichols, “and I immediately thought back to the fundraising efforts made by former educator LeRoy Kopriva and golfing buddy Jim Friest. Those two gents raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research and awareness over the years, and it was a great formula. Dr. Wilmes and I are happy to find inspiration and put a new twist on the concept. We’re excited to support this new recreation area and the ongoing projects of Winneshiek County Conservation.”

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is the lead partner in the purchase of Neste Valley Recreation Area, which will transfer to Winneshiek County upon fundraising completion (expected by 2017). INHF accepts online gifts for the project, and your full gift is applied directly to Neste Valley on behalf of Winneshiek County Conservation. Longest Loop donations are a tax-deductible qualified charitable contribution, and 100% of donations to this project will go to the Winneshiek County Conservation Board to fund the purchase of the Neste Valley Recreation Area.

The Longest Loop will be ridden by a small team of local bicyclists including Benji Nichols and Dr. John Wilmes on Saturday, July 9, 2016 (rain date 7/10). The team is asking trail supporters and the general public to make donations of any size to the project, which will help enable this incredible public infrastructure to become a reality. You may also stop by on the day of the ride to cheer on the team, heckle them, or bring encouragement, but the essential element of this fundraising ride are donations!  You can find out more and make a donation by visiting


  1. Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    Imagine Northeast Iowa Support
    A fantastic post! We hope you'll keep them coming! Thanks for contributing to Imagine Northeast Iowa.

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