Nathan Jones has been hired to lead Jackson County Conservation. Jones will start Jan. 6, replacing long-time retiring director Daryl Parker.

Jones is the son of Ron and Louise Jones of Bellevue and grew up in Bellevue State Park, where his father was a park ranger. Jones went into natural resources management as well: he currently serves as a Wildlife Technician II in Western Iowa with the Department of Natural Resources.

"I'm pretty excited to get back to eastern Iowa," Jones said. He worked for the Maquoketa wildlife unit of the Department of Natural Resources for eight years before his stint in western Iowa.

The conservation board offered Jones the position this week. Conservation board member Larry McDevitt, who also serves on the county's board of supervisors, said that excellent candidates applied for the position but that he felt very good about the decision to hire Jones.

"I would say that Jackson County has a very unique landscape," Jones said. "It'll be fun to get back to and managing some of the aspects. It's a good opportunity to promote my career forward and get closer to the folks."

Jones also has experience working with the conservation crew and said he was equally excited to return to work with that staff. "There are a lot of new things coming on board," he said.

Notable among those projects is Prairie Creek park, where campground and cabin development is stalled after the board of supervisors turned down approval for a loan.

With four people, Jones' team manages 27,000 acres in western Iowa. "The land management, the habitat management, are second nature to me," he said.

He's had less direct experience dealing with the public and some of the political aspects of being conservation director, but he's been around that his entire life, he said.

When he's not working, Jones said he can usually be found hunting pheasants in a field, chasing deer or trying to catch walleye. "My life has revolved around those things, both in work and out of work," he said.