Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
September 12, 2008
by Tim Ackarman

Clausen leaves gift for all North Iowa

CLEAR LAKE — Max Clausen, 93, of Clear Lake died Aug. 24. He is remembered as a man who loved music, good food, travel, and family.

Clausen also loved Clear Lake, and in particular an stretch of shoreline on its southwest side known locally as Farmer’s Beach. Thanks to his generosity, that stretch will remain undeveloped and accessible to the public for generations.

Earlier this year, Clausen donated the property to The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Last Saturday, about 60 people gathered to remember Max and to dedicate the Clausen’s Cove preserve.

Soren J. “Sam” Clausen immigrated from Denmark in the 1870s “with a dollar in his pocket,” says Clausen’s niece, Sarah Clausen Mooney. He eventually moved to Clear Lake, where he founded a grain elevator and once served as the city’s mayor.

Sam Clausen purchased Clausen’s Cove in 1891, dividing it into future homesteads for his nine children. “What a miracle that that never happened,” Mooney says.

Instead, “Aunt Louise (Clausen) and Max meticulously brought those pieces back” with an eye to keeping it as it had been during his youth, Mooney explains. “I wanted to preserve what I had,” Max Clausen told TNC at the time of the donation. “I saw what they did to the rest of the lake and wanted this property to remain in its natural state.

“There is no other place in Clear Lake where you can see grassland, farmland, forest and lake in one view: an unspoiled world that I wouldn’t sell at any price.”

Scott Moats, northwest Iowa preserves manager for TNC, says little is likely to change with the property in the near future. The farmable portion will remain in production for the present time, while the grasslands, hardwood timber, wetlands and lakeshore will continue to be open for fishing and non-consumptive public use.

TNC will survey the property and might eventually undertake management activities such as controlled burns and removal of invasive species, Moats says. “But even when you start management, the changes are subtle.”

Intensive management may prove unnecessary because the property has remained in a fairly natural state, Moats explains. “In terms of invasive species it looks pretty clean, which is unusual. Its sedge meadow is the most ecologically diverse part of the property, and has potential to be really high-quality.”

“It’s a great place for some bird diversity,” adds Lee Schoenewe of Spencer, chairman of the Clay County Conservation Board and a renowned bird expert. “It’s a stretch of shoreline that’s going to attract water-bird migrants.”

Through the dedication ceremony, the site also attracted friends and family of Max Clausen. “Because of time and circumstance, many of us didn’t get the opportunity to know each other until fairly recently,” Mooney says. “This (donation process) has been like a rebirth for this family.”

But the benefits of the donation will extend beyond the family, and beyond TNC, says state director Sean McMahon. “This isn’t just a gift to TNC, it’s a gift to the people of Clear Lake.”

“Max considered all of Clear Lake, maybe all of North Iowa, as part of his family,” says nephew Max Jon Clausen. “It’s really special to us that Max had an opportunity to finish this. We’re grateful that TNC will give everyone the opportunity to enjoy this property.”

Clausen’s Cove adjoins the Woodford-Ashland Lone Tree Point Nature Area, which is protected under a conservation easement donated to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation by the late Marcia and Jim Connell and family. Between the two properties over 500 acres and approximately 7,000 feet of Clear Lake shoreline are protected from further development.

“Max has got to be grinning from ear to ear for this beautiful day,” says Jan Lovell, daughter of the Connells and friend of Max Clausen. “What a wonderful, wonderful legacy.”

~ ~ ~ ~

Clausen's Cove contains approximately 52 acres of oak forest, 11 acres of wet prairie/sedge meadow, 22 acres of upland grassland, and 2,750 feet of shoreline bordering Clear Lake. The remainder of the property is agricultural fields. ~ The Nature Conservancy

~ ~ ~ ~

Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
July 17, 2013
by Peggy Senzarino

Volunteers clean up Clausen's Cove, a natural gem

VENTURA - More than 30 volunteers braved Wednesday’s heat and humidity to clean up one of the last pieces of privately owned, undeveloped lakefront property on Clear Lake.

The Friends of Clausen’s Cove was host to a volunteer work day at the 240-acre site on Clear Lake.

In 2007, the late Max Clausen of Clear Lake donated the property to the Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

Volunteers including two groups of clients from Opportunity Village were cleaning up an old dump site and clearing thistles on another part of the property.

“It has so many different habitat types. It has old growth oak forests. There are oak trees that four people have to hold hands to get around. It has wonderful wetlands,” said Amy Crouch with The Nature Conservancy.

The dump site is near an old farmstead. Volunteers were picking up tin cans, tires, glass and assorted parts of appliances.

Volunteer Ruby Golnick of Garner is a science teacher at Mason City High School.

“It’s a good experience to bring back to my classroom for the kids,” she said while picking up glass and old metal parts.

“This gets them to understand how much work it is to clean up this environment so let’s not create the mess in the first place.”

Golnick said this was her first trip to Clausen’s Cove.

“I love the wetland. To see the health of the wetland is cool.”

Crouch said the property contains a great diversity of plants including sedge meadows and upland prairie.

“Just about any habitat you can find in Iowa, you can find it here,” Crouch said.

Another volunteer, Meg Schmitt, Chicago, is studying environmental science at Grinnell College.

She is working for The Nature Conservancy this summer as an “Anna Beal” intern.

The Anna Beal Trust, founded in 1974, is the primary funding source for the summer intern program. The benefactors of the trust were Ed and Anna Beal, farmers from Black Hawk County.

“I knew it offered a lot of opportunities to see Iowa in parts that a lot of students who go to school here don’t get to see,” she said.

“Going to school here for the last few years, I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t appreciate what kinds of beautiful areas Iowa has.”

Schmitt will be a junior this fall.

“Clausen’s Cove is a beautiful piece of land. The lakeside is just gorgeous.”

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, January of 2014



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