Trails expert Lisa Hein RRVT banquet speaker

Lisa Hein
Lisa Hein

WEST DES MOINES – Lisa Hein, who might well be called the “mother of rec trails” across Iowa, will be the featured speaker for the 9th annual banquet of the Raccoon River Valley Trail Association 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, the non-profit conservation organization. The Des Moines-based foundation has been an active partner with county conservation boards, city parks and rec 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.

One of the 21 rail-trail conversions that Hein has personally worked on is the 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.

The Raccoon River Valley Trail Association, the non-profit group which markets and promotes the RRVT, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It has the annual banquet in February as its only fundraiser of the year.

The event, which will be held at the Marriott Hotel in West Des Moines, will begin at 4:45 pm with a social hour and raffles. There will also be silent and live auctions.

The banquet schedule is available at www.raccoonrivervalleytrail.org. Tickets for the event can also be ordered at the website.

Hein, a native of Colorado, 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.

She has worked in all phases of the foundation’s operation. She had the title of “trails and greenways coordinator” from 1992 to 2006, then became “program and planning director,” and is soon receiving a new title of “senior director for conservation programs.” But Hein remains 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.”

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