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Lake Darling State Park, Coming Back

WASHINGTON COUNTY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -  On Wednesday, conservationists reached a turning point in the renewal of a historic outdoor retreat in Washington County.

After decades of work, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Staff and Friends of Lake Darling State Park held their formal gate setting ceremony at Lake Darling State Park. During the ceremony, the dam gate was closed to begin the lake filling process. The February dam closure will permit the park fisheries staff to restock the lake with fish. It was a moment celebrated after years of work on building a new dam, lake restoration and beach and campground renewals.

The park was named for conservationist and Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Jay N. Ding Darling. Since it was first opened, Lake Darling State Park has had a volatile history. The park had success then deteriorated and is now being revitalized again through partnerships and volunteerism.

Once it is officially reopened, the area is expected to generate about $8.5 million a year for the local economy. The surrounding Clay Township has a population of about 700, and getting Lake Darling back, could be a big deal for folks there. In 2014, its estimated that about 100,000 people live within a 30 minute drive from the park.

The economic impact of bringing people to the community can be very vast and important to the survival of rural communities, Michelle Redlinger with the Washington Chamber of Commerce said. 
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