Visitors will notice new additions at the Honey Creek Resort State Park on Rathbun Lake, as the resort powers part of its facility with nature.
The Department of Natural Resources opened the state owned resort in south central Iowa in the fall of 2008. Staff members say they try to add green initiatives every year.
Nature hikes are part of Hannah Wiltamuth’s job. The Interpretive Programs Director says, “We try to teach people, not only about nature, but also ways, I call it, we can be kind to the earth.”
Now, she has new tools to teach people about being kind to the earth. Director of Engineering Thomas Kracht says, “In January, we brought online a 12,000 kw wind turbine.” In addition to the turbine, Kracht says you’ll find solar panels on five cabins and something called evacuated tubes on the main lodge. He says, “The evacuated tube system is designed to heat the domestic hot water within the lodge.”
General Manager Andy Woodrick says private donations, along with matching state and federal grants paid for the $1 million project that provides power to the already environmentally friendly resort. He says, “The resort was built with being eco-friendly in mind and it is LEED certified now. The golf course will be Audubon certified.”
Woodrick says it’s too soon to tell how much money the wind turbine, evacuated tubes and solar panels will save the resort, since the three only went online this winter. But, he says the main goal is education. He says, “People can come here and see all this in action and see how it fits into our environment, and get some knowledge.”
Woodrick says it could take a couple years to know how much money the resort will save, but he says as the resort works to make a profit, every bit helps. He says, “Energy is obviously a big expense for us, so anything we can do to offset those costs is going to be beneficial. We do look forward to some savings.”
As for Honey Creek Resort State Park’s finances, a state audit came out in January showing the resort made a $4,000 profit last fiscal year, but failed to pay the revenue bond interest.
The General Manager says the resort is on budget so far this fiscal year thanks to a busy winter. He says they have 33 weddings booked, in addition to conferences and other events.