Monitoring for mollusks

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The Iowa Pleistocene snail is a considered a glacial relict species.

The Iowa Pleistocene snail (Discus macclintocki) is a small mollusk indigenous to the north central United States.

Unfortunately, it’s an endangered species.

Fortunately, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and INHF have teamed up to protect these little guys.

Three natural resources technicians will be monitoring the snails’ habitat on public and private land in the Driftless Area of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois and the Lost Mound Unit of the upper Mississippi. This is part of an effort to conduct surveys of potential habitat and to monitor all of the historically occupied sites–there are 31 of them–to document the current status and distribution of snail colonies.

Read on for more Pleistocene snail facts:

Diet
As herbivores, the snails prefer to munch on birch and maple leaves.

Habitat
They live on (typically north facing) algific talus slopes. Algific slopes occur where air circulates over underground ice, which produces a constant stream of cold moist air through vents on the slope. The vents are usually covered with a layer of talus (rock debris) and leaf litter.

Monitoring
Because the rock debris is so unstable on the slopes, it’s possible that shifting can crush these snails. The technicians hired will monitor the snails while being minimally intrusive.

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The scoop on Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes at Chichaqua

Sandhill Cranes at Chichaqua

With Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) season approaching in mid-March, take the opportunity to brush up on your crane knowledge.This bird has been in Iowa since the nineteenth century, but as European settlements grew, the Sandhill Crane population decreased. At the turn of the twentieth century, even migrant cranes were rare. But in 1992, Sandhill Cranes successfully nested in Iowa again at Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Tama County, according to the Iowa DNR.

Now, the birds are no strangers to INHF areas and have been spotted on various properties, such as Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and Ham Marsh.

Check out these other five facts about Sandhill Cranes: Continue reading

Nature Walk: Snow Waves

“Snow is simply frozen water, and like water, it moves when you add wind. If it is a strong wind, snow forms waves very much like the waves on a large body of water. They have crests and troughs, and the pattern repeats itself over and over with subtle variations.” – Carl Kurtz

“Snow is simply frozen water, and like water, it moves when you add wind. If it is a strong wind, snow forms waves very much like the waves on a large body of water. They have crests and troughs, and the pattern repeats itself over and over with subtle variations.” – Carl Kurtz

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

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For the love of birds

Satuday, March 7, will be an Iowa bird-lover’s dream come true. Waterman Prairie Wildlife Management Area will become the latest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) in Iowa, and the O’Brien County Prairie Heritage Center will host its Bald Eagle Watch.

Fog rolls in over Waterman Prairie.

Fog rolls in over Waterman Prairie.

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Program Support/Grant Writing summer internship

Program Support interns help write grants and assist with INHF events.

Program Support interns help write grants and assist with INHF events.

Passionate about conservation? Love to write? Apply to be our program support intern this summer! This intern plays a vital role at INHF by writing grants that will provide funding for on-the-ground land conservation. Continue reading

Nature Walk: Eurasian Collared Dove

“Before human settlement, wildlife species were rarely found beyond their place of evolutionary origin. Through time humans have moved plants, insects and animals to other continents around the world, known as exotic species in their new countries. Some do not survive and gradually disappear; however, others multiply due to a lack of natural controls to become serious pests competing with native inhabitants. The Eurasian Collared Dove is one example that has become naturalized across much of the U.S. and is generally found in towns and cities.” – Carl Kurtz

“Before human settlement, wildlife species were rarely found beyond their place of evolutionary origin. Through time humans have moved plants, insects and animals to other continents around the world, known as exotic species in their new countries. Some do not survive and gradually disappear; however, others multiply due to a lack of natural controls to become serious pests competing with native inhabitants. The Eurasian Collared Dove is one example that has become naturalized across much of the U.S. and is generally found in towns and cities.” – Carl Kurtz

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

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5 fun winter activities in REAP areas

embrace-winter copyWinter doesn’t have to be a time to stay cooped up inside. There are plenty activities to get you outdoors and enjoying the beauty of an Iowa winter. Many of the best places to experience Iowa this time of year are supported by the Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)* program.

*Although, there is one indoor activity that can help you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors even more. On Tuesday, Feb. 17, come to the Capitol for the 2015 Environmental Lobby Day to tell your legislators why funding the REAP program and protecting Iowa’s natural resources is important to you.

Check out five of our favorite things to do in REAP areas this winter: Continue reading

Nature Walk: Rough-Legged Hawk

“Rough-legged hawks are in the genus Buteo, with a wingspan that can exceed 4 feet. Their breeding territory is the high Arctic.  Like many other birds of prey, they tend to migrate south seasonally in search of prey with a winter range that covers the northern two-thirds of the US.  Note the dark tail band, the black in the wing (wrists) and on the ends of the primary wing feathers.  Juvenile birds tend to be more mottled and there is also a dark phase, which can appear to be nearly all black.  When hunting, it can often be seen hovering.” – Carl Kurtz

“Rough-legged hawks are in the genus Buteo, with a wingspan that can exceed 4 feet. Their breeding territory is the high Arctic. Like many other birds of prey, they tend to migrate south seasonally in search of prey with a winter range that covers the northern two-thirds of the U.S. Note the dark tail band, the black in the wing (wrists) and on the ends of the primary wing feathers. Juvenile birds tend to be more mottled and there is also a dark phase, which can appear to be nearly all black. When hunting, it can often be seen hovering.” – Carl Kurtz

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

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Lobbying to protect our natural resources

This year’s Environmental Lobby Day/REAP Day is Tuesday, Feb. 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Organized by the Iowa Reap Alliance and the Iowa Environmental Council (IEC), this is a great opportunity to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting Iowa’s natural resources and show support for funding REAP and the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.
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Improvement plan: Breen Prairie reclamation

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Employees from General Mills help harvest prairie seed from the Breen Prairie north of Monticello in Jones County on Oct. 8, 2014.

Sage

Prairie sage grows up to 40 inches tall and blooms August through September. The multi-branched stems are thickly covered by fuzzy grayish hairs. Some American Indians used it to treat tonsillitis, sore throats and stomach problems.

Building friendships and renewing natural habitat are two methods of environmental improvement, whether in the office or on the land.

Approximately 30 employees from General Mills in Cedar Rapids enjoyed a day out of the office last October. They went to the rolling Breen Prairie north of Monticello in Jones County to assist in an INHF seed harvest. Though sunshine and blue skies do promote team building, so does the giving back aspect of harvesting native seed for soil restoration.

Breen Prairie is a 140-acre parcel donated by Helen Reichart to INHF in 1989 with the specific intent of restoring and preserving Iowa prairie.

The General Mills team removed brush and then harvested six bulging bags of seed, including Indian grass, Prairie sage, Prairie cinquefoil, Wild quinine, Leadplant, Gray-headed coneflower and Pale purple coneflower. The seeds were dried over the winter and reseeded between corn rows as part of a prairie reclamation on Jan. 19, according to Tylar Samuels, INHF Land Stewardship Specialist.

 

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