Celebrate Iowa Prairie Heritage Week across the state

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Iowa Prairie Heritage Week is an annual, week-long celebration of Iowa’s prairie past, present and future. This year, events all across the state will be held Sept. 13-19.

IPHW provides Iowans and visitors the chance to experience the prairie in its September beauty. Events—like prairie walks, seed harvests and educational tours—are scheduled at prairies in all of Iowa’s regions; participants are also encouraged to organize events of their own, introducing friends and family to diverse prairies, small and large.

For a full schedule of events, visit the Iowa Prairie Network calendar online. Continue reading

Nature Walk: Bumblebees

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Bumblebees probably aren’t given enough credit for the pollination services they perform. They’re a life-sustainer for a host of native flowers and some agricultural crops, like red clover, a hay crop. Here we see one preparing to enter a bottle gentian flower, which they have to physically open to get inside to collect the nectar, and on a tall thistle.

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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!

2015 REAP Assembly schedule announced

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Every two years, Iowans get the chance to learn about and influence the impact of Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program.The 2015 REAP Assembly schedule has been released, a series of public meetings held in 18 different regions throughout the state.

REAP assemblies provide residents of Iowa the opportunity to learn about the impact REAP has had in their region, as well as suggest future projects for REAP consideration and changes to REAP policy, programs and funding. Continue reading

2015 Intern Recap: Blufflands Land Stewardship

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The second summer of the INHF Blufflands Stewardship intern crew was a success! Our Blufflands crew worked a total of 44 days on 14 sites around northeast Iowa, making a lasting impact on several properties and projects. The internship wrapped up on Aug. 13.

The first few weeks of the summer were spent at INHF’s Heritage Valley property in Allamakee Co. weeding the prairies and woodlands of things like garlic mustard, wild parsnip, queen annes lace, sweet clover, and thistles. The next few weeks involved a lot of chainsaw work both at Heritage Valley and around the driftless region, removing cedar trees from bluff prairies and combating honeysuckle and buckthorn. Interns were also able to participate in several seed harvests and volunteer events.

Interns were able to work with other conservation professionals, working with partner land stewardship organizations and volunteers either on partner properties or INHF properties. The highlight week for the interns was at Raleigh Buckmasters’, an INHF conservation easement in Allamakee Co., where they were able to see timber rattlesnakes. Interns also enjoyed their time at Indiangrass Hills in Iowa Co., along with the Iowa Prairie Conference at UNI.

Thank you, interns, for your hard work for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife!

Learn more about INHF’s Blufflands land stewardship internship.

Nature Walk: Red-tailed Hawk

Juvenile red-tailed hawks lack the wariness of mature adult birds.  They are more tolerant of humans and less wary of potential danger.  They lack many of the skills needed to survive and their first year will be the most difficult.

Juvenile red-tailed hawks lack the wariness of mature adult birds. They are more tolerant of humans and less wary of potential danger. They lack many of the skills needed to survive and their first year will be the most difficult.

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!

2015 Intern Recap: Statewide Land Stewardship

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What a great summer!

INHF Statewide Land Stewardship interns wrapped up their 11 week internship on August 6th. The crew of 9 interns worked on 22 different sites covering 18 counties across Iowa. These properties included private, public and county-owned land, working with a variety of conservation groups, landowners and prairie enthusiasts.

The summer consisted of 44 working days, that also included educational opportunities like the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar and Iowa Prairie Conference at UNI. Interns had many highlights from the summer, but they all included the amount of wildlife seen, including timber rattlesnakes, smooth green snakes and a Luna moth.

”This year’s interns were a hard working bunch and they brought a lot of passion and curiosity for Iowa’s landscape,” said Melanie Louis, INHF land stewardship assistant. “The summer played a huge role in many of their career paths. We’re excited to see where they go next.”

Thank you, interns, for your hard work for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife!

Learn more about INHF’s land stewardship internship.

What is “Girdling”?

Check out this GoPro footage of our summer interns “girdling” a locust tree in Appanoose Co.

“Girdling” is a practice used to kill invasive large trees encroaching on a habitat. It involves chainsawing one ring or more near the base of a tree. At INHF, we cut two rings into the tree (making sure to reach the cambium layer of the tree) and then spraying the bottom ring with herbicide. The herbicide will reach the roots of the tree, while the top ring ensures that no nutrients reach the tree’s canopy. Instead of chopping the tree down completely, this removal method allows for dead tree habitat for woodpeckers and other wildlife, and results in less brush for hauling.

Girdling is not recommended near fuel breaks for prescribed fire or in areas where the tree is at risk of falling on a road or a fenceline.

Nature Walk: Dodder

 

Dodder is a parasitic plant that appears like an enormous batch of wet spaghetti draped over and wrapped around other plants such as the wild bergamot we see here. It sprouts from seeds in the soil and its survival depends on finding a host plant. It is a member of the morning glory family but unlike the trumpet-shaped morning glory it has a dense cluster of tiny white flowers.  When the flowers were examined they were filled with thrips, minute insects barely visible to the human eye.

Dodder is a parasitic plant that appears like an enormous batch of wet spaghetti draped over and wrapped around other plants such as the wild bergamot we see here. It sprouts from seeds in the soil and its survival depends on finding a host plant. It is a member of the morning glory family but unlike the trumpet-shaped morning glory it has a dense cluster of tiny white flowers. When the flowers were examined they were filled with thrips, minute insects barely visible to the human eye.

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!

From Iowa to Montana

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This week, INHF Land Stewardship Specialist Ryan Schmidt was called to western Montana to battle wildfires blazing in the state. Ryan completed National Wildland Fire Academy training in 2013, taking online courses and in-person sessions in Iowa and Missouri. Interested parties can earn Red Card certification all across the country at local training centers to become wildfire certified. Iowa is in the Eastern/Great Rivers Region.

This is the first time he’s been called to duty for the US Forest Service, but Ryan is no stranger to fire. As one-fourth of the Stewardship team, he manages INHF’s burn program, creating burn plans for INHF and partner properties throughout the spring season. In Iowa and other prairie states, fire is used as a management tool to create healthy habitat and ensure the diversity of prairies.

A dedicated conservationist, fighting wildfires has always been a dream for Ryan. “It’s something that’s been in my heart for a long time. I’m excited to see the action,” he said.

He’ll be working with a hand crew of 19 other conservation employees and firefighters from Iowa and Missouri. The 14-day shift will be located near Missoula, MT, stretching to Glacier National Park.

“Ryan will learn fire management skills in Montana that he’ll be able to bring back to Iowa and apply to his work with INHF,” said Joe McGovern, INHF president.

Melanie Louis, INHF land stewardship assistant, is also Red Card certified.

Please join us in wishing Ryan good luck and a safe journey!

 

Triathlon to support Ingawanis Woodland

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Late this summer, get outdoors and help support an INHF project! The Rugged Toad Adventure Triathlon is raising funds for Ingawanis Woodland in Bremer County on Aug. 29.

Paddle, run and bike your way through upland woods unique for the area!

Ingawanis is a former boy scout camp near Waterloo. When the camp shut down, INHF acquired 140 acres of the property to ensure that its natural resources and recreation opportunities were safeguarded for the future. All funds raised from the triathlon will support permanent protection of the woodland, which supports a plethora of recreational opportunities like birding, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Register now to participate in the Rugged Toad Adventure Triathlon!

Can’t participate in the race, but still want to support the woodland? Sponsor the event (sponsorships due Aug. 15), or donate to the project directly.