DeElda Heritage Area

Section 28, Des Moines Township, Pocahontas County, Iowa

DNR Gift to Iowa's Future Recognition Day

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources held its fourth annual "Gift to Iowa's Future" recognition day at the Capitol on April 2, 2012. During the ceremony, the State honored landowners, families, and organizations for 2011 gifts of land, land value, and conservation easements protecting more than 6,000 acres in 30 counties representing more that $7 million. Helen DeElda Gunderson, who gave 60 acres to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in October 2011, was one of those honored. Her gift is known as the DeElda Heritage Area in memory of her grandmother DeElda Lighter Gunderson. Here are a few photos from the day. Click on any of them for a larger view.

  The weather in Iowa has been unseasonably warm in March, and lilac bushes at the Capitol were already blooming.  

  The invitation to the awards ceremony said it was to be held in the Supreme Court chambers. Having been in the building to observe a case two years ago, Helen thought the invitation meant the beautiful, new facilities south of the Capitol. The grounds there have a large Japanese bell and a modern art statue that looks like an assymetrical, glass windmill overlooking downtown Des Moines. Text inscribed on a circle of stone benches around the sculpture tell of the first decision by the Iowa Supreme Court, seven years before Iowa became a state. In Re the Matter of Ralph, decided July 1839, the Court rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the American Civil War.  

  Helen's friends, Erv Klaas and Joy Leister, traveled with her to Des Moines for the occasion. Erv is a lifelong conservationist and an old friend of the INHF. Both Erv and Joy have visited the Rolfe area with Helen and viewed the area of land that constitutes her gift to the INHF.  


  Helen (on left) with Lisa Hein, who is a friend of Helen's and program director at the INHF who visited Helen's land with her and helped Helen make the decision to give the land to the Foundation and call it the DeElda Heritage Area. Helen first met Lisa while advocating for a bicycle trail between Gilbert and Ames when she heard that Lisa was "The" person to talk to about trails.  

  The awards ceremony was held in the old Supreme Court chambers on the first floor of the Capitol building.  

  Left to right: DNR Director Roger Lande, Governor Terry Branstad, Helen, and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds.  

INHF news release about Helen's gift

Aerial photos of property

Photos of property from Helen's archive housed at
the Iowa State University Special Collections Department

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