In the 1970s, when plans evolved to close the 55-acre YMCA camp in the Cedar Heights neighborhood, community members and Black Hawk County Conservation Board members rallied to preserve the natural area. The idea of a nature center evolved but with realization that funds would need to be raised to achieve that goal. A meeting of interested community members, including neighbors of the area and Junior League members, was held. Over the course of time and numerous meetings, the Friends of Hartman Reserve organization was born in the 1980s, with by-laws written and 501c3 nonprofit status achieved through the State of Iowa.
IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDS OF HARTMAN
Hartman Reserve has expanded its natural area over the years, laced with miles of trails, a nature center, and support facilities that provide high quality public programming. It is here today because the people of the Cedar Valley wanted and needed a place to escape into nature. It grew and prospered with the help of the neighbors and the wider community. Ed Wilson, an original advocate and member of the Black Hawk County Conservation Board at the time, was right: lots of good ideas fade and fail if they are not nurtured and supported by the local community. By creating a Friends group, the community was given an avenue by which to provide direction and support. Hartman Reserve really and truly belongs to the people of the Cedar Valley.
In addition to the many programs and services Friends has supported over the years, two of our greatest accomplishments have been the growth and development of the Friends of Hartman Reserve Endowment Fund (which has reached $1 million) and the new east wing of the Nature Center. Without the financial support of multitudes of Friends, these projects would not have been realized. Both the Nature Center and the Endowment will serve our communities for generations.