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New plan to encourage counties’ outdoor activity improvements

New plan to encourage counties’ outdoor activity improvements

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When it comes to outdoor activities, there is much to enjoy in Pottawattamie, Harrison and Mills Counties, according to an official of a local conservation and development agency.

“All three counties have a tremendous wealth of resources,” said Michelle Wodtke Franks, executive director of Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development.

A master plan has been developed to encourage these counties to work as one for attracting even more tourists and new residents, Franks said.

“We’ve opened the door for these counties to think regionally in terms of tourism and recreation,” she said.

Besides more tourism and the dollars brought in, an activity-filled outdoor environment is important when young families consider putting down new roots, according to Franks.

“It has become an economic development driver,” she said.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will discuss the importance of this plan, titled Loess Hills Missouri River Region Parks to People, at a press conference Friday in Council Bluffs. It begins at 2:30 p.m. at the Iowa West Field House at 4 Arena Way. It is open to the public.

The plan received a financial jump start with a $500,000 pledge from the MidAmerican Energy Foundation, Franks said.

“This is a shot in the arm for this project,” she said, adding that the goal now is to find matching funds.

Some projects identified in the plan have already begun, Franks said, such as the walking/biking trail connecting Council Bluffs and Neola, plus the new playground at Lake Manawa, she said.

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