May 29, 2012

Private investment in conservation: it works

I'm currently on a kick to convince at least a couple other people that conservation of habitats and wildlife can occur with private investment--not just government subsidies (e.g., Farm Bill).  So, it is fun to find examples of where this seems to work.

This past weekend (Memorial Day), our family decided to take a little trip to rural Nebraska.  We wanted to do some fishing, canoeing, and see the Ashfall Fossil Beds.  So, we chose a little lake in northeast Nebraska: Grove Lake Wildlife Management Area, which is managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.  Of course, the minimal campsites in the WMA were completely filled when we arrived, but we got lucky when we found a tent spot on a private campgrounds, adjacent to the WMA.

The Grove Lake Bait Shop and Campground is a place you should check out.  The owners, Randy and Mary Erb, are great hosts.  Randy told me that he'd been running the bait shop for 32 years.  Grove Lake is in the middle of nowhere, and a bait shop makes a lot of sense.

"I started the campground two years ago," he told me.  "I don't know why I didn't do it 30 years ago!"

The benefit of this private campground is to support a state-managed conservation area, so that tax payers don't have to support better/more facilities at the WMA.  And, a Nebraska family makes some money on the deal. 
A pond at the Grove Lake Bait Shop and Campground
gives us a chance for a few practice casts before we head for Grove Lake
(photo by Kelly Powell).
I would guess there are plenty of other places in Nebraska where the same model could be used by an investor.  The cabins are always filled at Mahoney State Park?  Well, build some across the road, make them nicer, and rent them for cheaper. 

All of this, philosophically, is fun to think about--private investment in conservation.  But, sometimes a photo says it all--the best part of our visit to the campground was some time away and time together.

No comments:

Post a Comment