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Aurelia's Wetlands Walking Path now complete

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wetlands gazebo - left to right - Jacob Bossman of U.S. Senator Grassley's office, State Senator Bill Anderson, and Aurelia Renaissance Man Denny Allen stop at the Aurelia Wetlands gazebo during the Cherokee Soil & Water Conservation District's recent Conservation Tour. Photo contributed
The start of the Aurelia Wetlands Walking Path, located along Highway 7 on the east edge of town, is marked with this sign. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Concrete and Limestone Educational path is '1 mile plus 100 yds'

The town of Aurelia sought advice about what they could do with a wetlands area on the east edge of town, along Highway 7, and a decision was made that one-tenth of an acre could be destroyed, due to drought conditions. Local resident Denny Allen, with the assistance of the Aurelia Kiwanis Club, then set about developing the area into something the town would find useful and of which they would be proud.

Allen purchased steel from another Aurelia resident, Joel Thevenin, and wood from Aurelia Lumber, and constructed two foot bridges in the shop at his farm, one of which even has an arched steel rail.

Members of the Aurelia Kiwanis Club helped paint the bridges and construct wood pilings, and they were then transported to the wetlands area, with the intention of constructing a walking path, which would be open to the public.

Allen hauled in 40-50 truckloads of dirt to the area and moved the dirt around with a skid loader. He also laid down a limestone walking path, and Bill Smith Construction of Aurelia poured and laid about 1000 feet of concrete. Allen also built a gazebo along the path, and installed a picnic table with seating for 6 in the gazebo. The table sits on a small concrete area which Smith Construction poured.

Allen said the path is now complete following the addition of anothre 300 tons of limestone for the trail, which now continues east toward the blacktop, and then runs north parallel to the blacktop, behind the Methodist Church, and up to Ash Street, which is the street fronting the Alta-Aurelia school. The completed path is now "one mile and 100 yards long," according to Allen.

Remembering Aurelians - Several notable Aurelia citizens who have recently passed are remembered on this bench at the start of the Wetlands Walking Path. Photo by Dan Whitney.
Allen said he hopes the path will not only be beneficial to citizens' health and well-being, but also be an educational experience for walkers. One sign about Wetlands is now posted on one of the walking bridges, while another, describing possible wildlife of the past, is on another bridge, along with a replica of the skeleton of a saber-toothed tiger on the ground beneath it. A naturalist visited the area a few months ago, and estimated that there are 43 different types of plants in that small area, and Allen talked to representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) about posting some signs along the path to point out and describe the various plants. There is now a sign on one of the bridges which lists these plants, but no descriptions are there at this point.

Walking through the cornfield - Part of the Wetlands Walking Path even takes you through a cornfield. Photo by Dan Whitney
Allen says the total cost of the completed path will be about $19,500, and contributions to the project are certainly welcome at any time. Donations should be directed to the Aurelia Heritage Society (Bob Stroud, chairman). Approximately $12,700 for the project has been raised to date.

This sign on one of the Wetlands Path bridges explains what "wetlands" are. Photo by Dan Whitney
An educational walking path - Taking a walk along the Wetlands Walking Path can be an educational experience as well as a healthy one. Photo by Dan Whitney.

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