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‘Natural’ getaway in Rochelle’s backyard

Posted: Monday, Aug 16th, 2010


Jim, Aiden and Mike Roschi all of Oregon spent Friday out at the Rochelle Conservation Club fishing. (Photo by Daniel Williams)


About 10 miles northwest of Rochelle sits one of the community’s most natural and uninterrupted spaces. It’s a place where youth get their first connection with nature and for adults to escape from the everyday hustle and bustle. It’s a a place Ed “Doc” Johnson remembers fondly as a teenager as does a lot of his generation, and a place he continues to enhance for future generations. It’s the Rochelle Wildlife Conservation Club.

It’s probably hard to consider it a well-kept secret in the community considering it has almost 900 families as members, but no doubt there’s plenty of people who don’t even know it’s there. But since the 1970s when a newly formed conservation club purchased 40 acres of land and dug a lake, it’s been providing a unique opportunity for young and old to connect with nature.

There is no real written history of the conservation club. The closest anyone can get to a full history is listening to Doc Johnson’s stories of what’s happened over the last 30 or so years. After all, he’s been a board member for 34 of those.

Johnson said the club started in the mid 70s after the former Rochelle Sportsman Club dissolved. The land was purchased with the help of the Rochelle city council.

Since then the club has seen a plethora of changes. Everything from building of the Dug Dale Lodge to the addition of a rifle range on the eastern edge of the club.

Between those years the club has certainly seen a lot of ups and downs. Three-term president Dennis Probasco said he’s seen a lot of lean years, but the help from members and through fundraising has always made them solvent.

“It’s the ‘Docs’ that saved the club in the lean years,” he added.

Probasco and Johnson said all of the Club’s funds come from their membership and the fundraising efforts they do throughout the year. With dues only at $35 per family or $45 with gun range privileges, most of their funds come from fundraisers.

Probasco said the club puts on a host of fundraising efforts throughout the year including turkey shoots, a fishing derby, steak frys, Euchre tournaments and many other family oriented events.

“We do a lot of fundraising,” Probasco added.

The fundraisers aren’t what make the club unique though. Probasco and Johnson think it’s the education and the entertainment the club provides for people of all ages for the money the spend.

“It’s a safe economical form of entertainment and education,” Probasco said.

Besides the fishing, camping and rifle range, the club offers unique opportunities throughout the year for groups like the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts maintain an A-frame house on the south side of the club.



For the complete article see the 08-15-2010 issue.












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