‘Mother of Iowa rec trails’ to speak at annual RRVTA banquet

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Lisa Hein, the "mother of rec trails" in Iowa. will deliver the keynote address at the annual fundraising banquet of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association.

WEST DES MOINES — Lisa Hein, who might well be called the “mother of rec trails” across Iowa, will be the featured speaker for the ninth annual banquet of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association (RRVTA) here Saturday, Feb. 20.

Hein has worked 27 years – “that’s half my life” – as one of the leading trail developers and advocates for the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), the non-profit conservation organization. The Des Moines-based foundation has been an active partner with county conservation boards, city parks and recreation departments and other entities in building a network of recreational trails in Iowa superior to what you can find in nearly every other state in the nation.

A native of Colorado, Hein came to Iowa in 1980 to study landscape architecture at Iowa State University. She graduated in 1984, worked four years with the City of Ames in its planning department and then joined the INHF in 1988.

The Perry-to-Woodward connector trail is a priority project for the RRVTA.
The Perry-to-Woodward connector trail is a high priority project for the RRVTA.

One of the 21 rail-trail conversions that Hein has personally worked on is our Raccoon River Valley Trail, the 89-mile paved trail that passes through 14 communities in three counties in west central Iowa and connects with the trails coming out of the Des Moines metro area.

Another is the very popular High Trestle Trail between Woodward and Ankeny.

Hein has worked in all phases of the INHF operation. She had the title of Trails and Greenways Coordinator from 1992 to 2006, then became Program and Planning Director. She will soon be named the organization’s Senior Director for Conservation Programs.

Even as her titles have changed, Hein has remained directly involved in trail development, just as she always has been.

“Once you get involved with trails,” she said, “I don’t think you ever really quit.”

The Waukee Railroad Pergola, a $1.12 million public art project backed by the RRVTA, is nearly its fundraising goal.
The Waukee Railroad Pergola, a $1.12 million public art project backed by the RRVTA, is nearly its fundraising goal.

Hein’s keynote address at the RRVTA banquet will be the highlight of the non-profit group’s only annual fundraiser. The RRVTA markets and promotes the RRVT and is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

The banquet will be held at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, with a social hour and raffles beginning at 4:45 p.m. There will also be silent and live auctions.

For more information about the RRVTA banquet and the group’s trail-boosting efforts, visit the Raccoon Rover Valley Trail Association website.

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