Gate to close on Lake Darling
The Iowa DNR staff and the Friends of Lake Darling State Park are pleased to announce the formal Gate Setting ceremony at Lake Darling State Park, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. The dam gate will be closed at this time to impound Honey Creek waters and to begin filling the lake after long efforts of building a new dam, lake restoration, beach and campground renewals. Although reopening and rededication of Lake Darling State Park lie ahead after warm weather allows for completion of road and trail work, this event will be both historic and a turning point in the renewal of a beloved state park named for one of the nation’s greatest conservationists and a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling. The February dam closure will permit the park fisheries staff to properly prepare and manage the restocking of Lake Darling’s new prime habitat with fish.
On Sunday, Sept. 17, 1950, Darling was given the honor of closing the original Lake Darling dam with local dignitaries at his side and before a crowd of many thousands. Then, as now, the public had to wait several months for the finishing touches to ready the park for opening. The Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, gate closing will symbolize “Darling is Back” as a conservation legacy.
The history of Lake Darling State Park from its inception to the present day is a rocky road of success, then deterioration and stagnation, and, through partnerships and volunteerism, revitalization. By the mid-1960s, Darling (Oct. 21, 1876 to Feb. 12, 1962) would be gone, and the Des Moines Register declared, “Lake Darling is a ‘Mud-Hole’; Ding wouldn’t like it.” But now, with decades of efforts, clean waters are flowing through conservation practices of the watershed and will be celebrated in a restored lake and renewed park, bringing conservation of natural resources to life in the spirit of Darling for generations to come.
The Setting of the Gate is planned for 10 a.m., at the Lake Darling Dam, 1237 310th St., Clay Township, Washington County, followed by a program at Brighton Community Center, 100 E. Washington St., in Brighton.