A group focused on the 100-year sustainability of Iowa's state, county and city parks unveiled a plan to the public today and will unveil it to Gov. Terry Branstad in coming weeks.

 

The plan, called "Vision: Parks to People," was put together by the Governor's Green Ribbon Commission, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Parks Foundation. The plan came about, said Green Ribbon Commission Co-Chair Robert Riley, as a way to look ahead to the year 2120, as 2020 will be the 100th anniversary of the state's park system. Riley is also the founder and CEO of Riley Resource Group.

 

"One of the charges was to develop this strategy for how to plan and how to put together a system that made sense, and then also to get sustainable funding set up," Riley said.

 

Some components of the plan:

 

- Future funding for parks systems will come from a few main sources, including the state and private donations. One concept is to have a larger fund that would utilize multiple funding streams and be led by local leadership. State, county and city parks would be encouraged to come up with regional plans of how they want to develop and work together in the future, which would be eligible for the money in the fund.

 

- The plan calls for more connectivity of water and surface trails.

 

- Riley wants ongoing public comments on the plan, with the Iowa Parks Foundation serving as a collector and holder of public feedback data that could be used to improve parks. In the planning process, leaders met with Iowa teenagers to get their feedback, Riley said. "We want to make sure that the things we put into place now are receptive to change rather than prohibitive of change," Riley said. "The goal is to make it an open and flexible plan."

 

Riley will deliver the plan to the governor in coming weeks. Branstad has been involved in the planning process and set aside $2 million in this year's budget for one or two pilot projects associated with the plan, Riley said. Riley hopes to have systems in place within the next couple of years to utilize the plan.

 

"People love to come to a place where you can get on a trail and ride 40 miles, and ride through three parks on your way, and stop off and stroll through a meadow and do whatever," Riley said. "So you can get better people working in Iowa, and we can keep our graduates from our colleges and universities here, if you have a good parks system."

 

To see the full plan, click here.