Government

Linn County Conservation deputy director Goemaat to lead department

CEDAR RAPIDS — Longtime deputy director of Linn County Conservation Dennis Goemaat has been appointed to lead the department.

The Linn County Conservation Board on Thursday announced that Goemaat, who has served as deputy director since 1992, has been selected to serve as the county’s newest executive director. He is the third person to hold the title, replacing former executive director Dan Biechler, who announced his retirement last year after 30 years in the position.

“It’s a great opportunity, I enjoyed working with Dan all those years. to have an opportunity to now take on that role is great,” Goemaat said Thursday.

Goemaat, 60, joined the county as a park ranger at Pinicon Ridge Park in 1981. He created the Conservation Education program in 1983 and also served as the department’s first naturalist. He worked as Biechler’s deputy director for 27 years.

“Dennis was nominated as our top candidate given his extensive experience and knowledge working with the county conservation system, all of which has been in Linn County,” Hillary Hughes, Linn County Conservation Board President, said in a Thursday news release. “He is truly passionate for conservation, but also for Linn County. His experience as deputy director should provide a smooth transition for the many projects and initiatives that are underway.”

Linn County Conservation manages 28 preserves, parks, trails and natural areas.

In addition, county voters in 2016 approved a $40 million Linn County Water and Land Legacy bond — aimed at water quality projects, park improvements and trails.

“There’s a lot of great things happening. A lot of exciting projects coming forward,” Goemaat said.

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Goemaat, a native of Pella, added he’d be remiss if he didn’t also acknowledge the county staff, Conservation Board and Board of Supervisors, who he said will help make the transition easier.

“I’m just looking forward to working with all of them,” he said. “We’ve got a really dedicated, well trained staff. That’s a great benefit.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3175; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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