The Des Moines County Conservation Department is looking for the next year to be just as busy as the previous 12 months.
The department has released its annual report for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2013.
Executive Director Chris Lee said more than 10,000 people participated in the 200+ educational programs offered by trained staff.
He said many others utilized the wide variety of amenities offered by the county.
"People are hearing about our facilities more and more," said Lee, "and we are getting our name out there as best we can. People are coming out and seeing our parks."
Lee said he was pleasantly surprised that more than 7,000 people visited Starr's Cave Nature Center.
The department manages 16 buildings, 15 shelter houses, 128 campsites, and more than 1,600 acres of land.
Lee said the biggest challenge for the current fiscal year is funding, with volunteers making up for potential shortfalls.
EMERALD ASH BORER
Meanwhile, the department is preparing, as best it can, for the arrival of a tiny, green insect.
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was discovered in Burlington earlier this year.
Lee said at this point, the insect has not made it to the ash trees on county land.
He said it's only a matter of time, though, so his staff is taking precautions.
"Basically, we are trying to triage the areas that have the highest public use," said Lee, "and focus on making sure that we have identified the trees that pose a threat to public safety."
Lee said the ash trees are spread out throughout county property, amidst a wide variety of other trees.
He said that is why it is not financially feasible to try to save them through chemical treatments.
Lee said Des Moines County Conservation is willing to help Burlington deal with the EAB.
Burlington is estimated to have more than 1,000 on public property and another 2,000 on private land.