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BV Supervisors, conservation director express mixed feelings on zipline proposal

Friday, November 30, 2012

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The Buena Vista Board of Supervisors Tuesday expressed support for Alta-Aurelia students investigating a zipline attraction for county parks, but have offered no future financial backing for the plan.

Tim Humes, Sioux Rapids, first proposed the project at a conservation board meeting in July.

An ecotourism enthusiast who has used ziplines in Thailand and Costa Rica, Humes told board members the steep hillside of the BV County Conservation Park, once home to a winter tube sledding lift, would be an ideal spot for the attraction.

Dubbed "Flight of the Eagles," a nod to the local efforts to re-establish birds once near-extinct in the region, the zipline, which could accommodate disabled individuals, would neatly coincide with a potential four-county eco tour.

A low-impact alternative to mass tourism, ecotourism is gaining popularity worldwide, highlighting undisturbed natural areas.

However, Supervisors and BV Conservation

Director Nate Young appeared to be in consensus the zipline, if built, should be housed outside the county conservation park.

"Honestly, I am not interested in turning the conservation park into an amusement park," Young told the Supervisors during their Nov. 27 meeting. "While there might be ziplines in Dubuque and Wisconsin Dells, Buena Vista County can't compete."

A similar set-up, part of a private high ropes course at a Boone County conservation park, is accompanied by a hefty price tag.

Installing a 50-foot zipline cost $10,000. Staff must be certified, and the zipline must be inspected monthly, in addition to receiving certification from an outside company. When open, at least two staff members are needed to assist participants.

Due to sheer cost, Young said the zipline is not open to the public, and is only in use two or three times per year.

"No other county (in Iowa) has a zipline or is considering one," he said, noting putting the attraction in Gabrielson Park, or even near King's Pointe, might be a better fit.

"I don't like the idea of having it in a conversation park, because it defeats the purpose of a wildlife area," Young continued. "We can't get people to come now, and I don't see a zipline working 20 miles from town."

Pursuing grants through a 28E-established group is a better option than using county funds, Supervisor Dale Arends said. "I don't think it's a wise use of our resources."



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