Individual cited for felling trees at Chelsea boat launch

News and notes from Tama Co. Conservation

Duffus Landing, also known as the Chelsea boat launch, located along the Iowa River just east of Chelsea and managed by Tama Co. Conservation is pictured on Saturday, April 8. PHOTO BY SOREN M. PETERSON

An individual was recently cited by the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources for illegally cutting trees at Duffus Landing – also known as the Chelsea boat launch – following an investigation by Tama County Conservation staff.

During the April 5 conservation board meeting, Director Stephen Mayne shared there was recently a “situation” at the boat launch/Duffus Landing involving an individual cutting down multiple cottonwood trees, starting a bonfire, burning trash, and setting up an illegal structure at Iowa River Natural Area which is adjacent to the boat landing.

Duffus Landing is a one-acre river bottom and timber tract located west of Chelsea along the Iowa River at the end of 360th Street where it dead ends at the closed bridge. While the land is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it is currently managed by Tama Co. Conservation.

Mayne explained conservation staff set up trail cameras in the area near where the trees were cut which allowed them to determine the identity of the individual — an individual Mayne declined to name at this time.

A citation was issued to the individual by Iowa DNR Conservation Officer Brett Reece who first learned of the trees being cut on the property. If the fines are not paid, Mayne said, the county will prosecute the individual.


“Overall, the damage was minimal,” Mayne said in a text message exchange with the Telegraph. “However, it consumed 8-10 staff hours to clean up their mess.”

The individual was cited by Officer Reece for the following: Construction of the road in Iowa River Natural Area; Off road driving in Iowa River Natural Area; Construction of structure in Iowa River Natural Area; Removal of wood from Iowa River Natural Area; Ground fire in Iowa River Natural Area; and Littering Iowa River Natural Area.

The case remains open regarding the cottonwood trees that were cut at Duffus Landing.

Currently, Tama Co. Park Officer Riley Conrad is attending Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. He is scheduled to complete Academy training at the end of April.

Other business


T.F. Clark Park located northeast of Traer is now open to camping for the season.

The Fun Night fundraiser held on April 1 at the nature center did not end on a fun note with the septic system backing up, park technician/ranger Dustin Horne reported. The system failed more than likely as a result of the large volume of people using the facilities that evening. The tank was pumped and clean-up ensued. The contractor recommends pumping every three to five years going forward.

Difficulties with the septic aside, the fundraiser was hailed a success by Mayne as part of his report. There were 95 people in attendance. The fundraiser net $4,466.01 in profit.

The lake restoration project continues. The board approved an amended contract with the Iowa DNR for the project but there was no change in the overall financial footprint.

Later in the meeting, the board reviewed a quote from Scharnweber, Inc. of Toledo for water line and electrical improvements at Otter Creek campground. After some discussion, Scharnweber’s bid for $27,810 was conditionally approved by the board with the caveat that the contractor clarify/correct part of the quote (the electrical work was not separated out from the water line work). Most of the work will take place at ‘Camper’s Hill’ and includes upgrading the sites to accommodate the larger size of modern RVs/campers. The terraces will be expanded and each site will have full water hookups. As a result of the planned expansion, Mayne said the number of sites will be reduced by up to half.

The board approved the purchase of a new zero-turn mower (John Deere Z960M) and a Polaris Ranger side-by-side.

Mayne shared that the side stairwell at the nature center is collapsing and a concrete pillar supporting it has cracked. The stairwell is not used much, he said. The board approved a motion to remove the stairs altogether and the landing.

Future dates for Fun Night (second Saturday in March) and Fall Fest (first Saturday in October) were approved through 2028.

Just before adjournment, Mayne shared he had completed seasonal staff hiring. Staff this summer includes one part time seasonal aide and two park ranger interns.

The Tama Co. Naturalist position had not yet been filled but the process to do so continued.