OAKLAND — The Iowa West Foundation, headquartered in Council Bluffs, has awarded a $14,500 grant to Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) to inventory known and previously undiscovered historic Mormon Trail sites across Iowa. The inventory will include sites on the Mormon Pioneer Trail and Mormon Handcart Trail across southwest Iowa.
Golden Hills RC&D has partnered with Iowa Valley RC&D of Amana and Pathfinders RC&D of Fairfield that will work in south-central and southeast Iowa, respectively.
By inventorying these historic sites, Golden Hills RC&D hopes to preserve and interpret the role Iowa played in the Mormon migration from Nauvoo, Ill., westward.
The Iowa Department of Transportation and Mormon Historic Sites Foundation have also awarded grant funds for this project, which will serve the counties of Adair, Appanoose, Audubon, Cass, Clarke, Dallas, Davis, Decatur, Guthrie, Iowa, Jasper, Johnson, Lee, Lucas, Monroe, Polk, Pottawattamie, Poweshiek, Union, Van Buren and Wayne.
The trail study will be conducted using a combination of historical document research and LiDAR data analysis. LiDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, is a technology used to make high resolution maps that can see land contours through heavily forested areas or areas with dense vegetation. For this project specifically, the technology will be used to discover trail ruts, historic structures and other features of the trails that are in danger of being lost to development or the elements. Additional components of the study include a natural and cultural resources inventory. Results of the resource inventories and LiDAR mapping will be used to develop preliminary plans for the acquisition, preservation, enhancement and interpretation of historic Mormon Trail sites.
For more information about the project, contact Liz Birkel-Leddy with Golden Hills RC&D at Liz@goldenhillsrcd.org or 712-482-3029.