Little Jo, a State Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in southeast Pope County, was dedicated in memory of Kurt Owen (K.O.) Nelson and a memorial sign was erected during a ceremony on October 21 that brought together family, friends and colleagues.
Little Jo WMA is located near where Kurt Nelson once lived. He sold the tract to Glacial Ridge Pheasants Forever and it eventually became a Wildlife Management Area. Because Nelson didn’t want any public recognition for the WMA, it was named “Little Jo” WMA.
The newly erected dedication sign is located at the WMA, located just off County Road 37 in the southeastern part of Pope County near Lake Johanna. The sign was made possible by the Fraternal Order of Police Glacial Lakes Lodge 23, the organization that paid half for the new sign. The remainder of the cost was paid for by private donations from close friends and colleagues, according to local Conservation Officer Daniel Baumbarger.
Kurt Nelson followed in his dad’s (James Nelson) footsteps to become a Conservation Officer. He started his career working with the City of Glenwood Police Department and became a Pope County Deputy. From there he became a Pope County Conservation Officer, working the local area until he retired in 2012. He died in February of this year.
Throughout his life, Kurt was an avid outdoorsman, it was stated by family members. He loved being on the lake with his family and dog, watching wildlife in the peace and quiet, shed hunting and kayak fishing. Kurt also enjoyed sharing his love of the outdoors with disabled veterans, escorting them with deer hunting and cooking for the fishermen. In any way he was able, he always looked for little ways to help those in need, many times donating his time and talents to local organizations.