By John Mazzello, Project Coordinator
With 2014 nearly in the rear-view mirror and 2015 starting to appear in the headlights, now is a good time to take a look back at the Lincoln Highway’s 101st year in Iowa. 2014 saw a deepening of the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway’s role in the state.
We launched an exciting new project, the development of a new Corridor Management Plan for the byway, this year. This plan is an important opportunity for the byway to reach out to residents, businesses, and travelers to create a strong strategy to support Iowa’s communities along the Lincoln Highway and preserve the important resources of the byway.
Also in 2014, we moved forward with a unique project to identify locations along the byway with sustainable land management practices, thanks to a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grant. This project will allow us to build interpretive signage to highlight these land practices, sharing with byway travelers who we know are highly interested in a healthy environment.
This year also saw the second year of our innovative “Kids on the Byway” program, in which we connect the resources of the byway with students to deepen their understanding of Iowa’s history and natural resources and help to improve their academic performance. We worked with three schools and more than 150 students this year, plus we offered an exciting two weeks of summer camp that took participants to locations across the byway and the state!
There are many exciting developments on the horizon for next year. We’ll be pilot testing a new initiative, “Greening the Lincoln,” which will recognize and highlight businesses that support the byway and engage in sustainable environmental practices. Be on the lookout for more information on this initiative next year.
In 2015, our Corridor Management Plan project will move into a public meeting phase, with gatherings to be scheduled across the state to meet with residents, business owners, and others about the possibilities for the byway in the future. This is sure to be a truly meaningful statewide conversation about the Lincoln Highway, and we invite you to participate in the planning process in your area. You can sign up for our email list to learn about events in your area. Visit www.prrcd.org/cmp and click the “Sign up” button.
We are also currently hiring a new byway coordinator, to begin work in early 2015. As you may know, former Byway Coordinator Angie Hettinger left Prairie Rivers of Iowa in October when she moved to Minnesota. While we were disappointed to see Angie go, we are looking forward to being able to introduce a new coordinator to you soon. We are also glad to announce that we are seeking an intern to assist with Lincoln Highway web and social media marketing, in collaboration with our partner, the Iowa Lincoln Highway Association.
2015 looks to be a banner year for the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, and we value your input, engagement, and knowledge. Please sign up for our Corridor Management Plan email list or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how you can support the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway.