A Great Place Made Better

How much can 15 people accomplish on 175 acres in under two hours?

A lot, it turns out.

I was amazed at the giant oak and maple and sycamore trees!

I was amazed at the giant oak, maple and sycamore trees!

On Tuesday evening, April 26, volunteers from Kohls, Outdoor Alliance of Story County and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation joined Story County Conservation to improve a site just south of Ames that’s destined to become the Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area.

So this was our chance to experience the natural land where the Skunk River used to flow.

It’s not open to the public yet: INHF will transfer it to Story County after funds are raised to cover its purchase and restoration.

Some of us cut invasive plant species: mostly honeysuckle and multi-flora rose. Compared to many Iowa woodlands, there wasn’t much to cut. It felt good knowing we were keeping them from spreading and shading out the wildflowers – like the Sweet William that was in bloom all around us.

Here’s how we looked: before, during, and after attacking the multi-flora rose:

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Meanwhile, volunteers were removing the tires and scrap metal that dotted the area – many of which had been left behind by floodwaters over time or illegally dumped.

Jordan - heavy metal crew

Jordan - tire crew

In just two hours, Team Heavy Metal and Team Burnt Rubber hauled out a full truck of tires and a full trailer of metal – nearly all the clean-up that’s needed here!

 

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As darkness headed our way, we enjoyed a Victory Photo and went home dirtier, stronger and refreshed by our time in nature.

Jordan - crew after

UntitledI’m looking forward to my next visit – to walk where the river used to run.

 

Want to help the effort?

Learn more about Jordan Family Wildlife Area

Donate now to the project

Learn more about volunteering with INHF

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It’s a Lark! It’s a Crane! It’s the Big Day of Birding

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Explore southern Iowa’s Lucas County on Saturday, May 21, during the Big Day of Birding! This first-time event marries bird enthusiasts and conservationists as we count as many bird species as possible in 24 hours.

Lucas County is a popular spot for our feathered friends. The area boasts critical nesting habitat for rare species such as American woodcock, whip-poor-will and wood thrush. Plus, Stephen’s State Forest is home to a large number of woodland birds, including the vibrant warbler. 238 bird species have already been identified, and we hope to grow that number on the Big Day of Birding. Continue reading

5 of Iowa’s most invasive species (and how to get rid of them)

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An infestation of Garlic Mustard.

Invasive plant species are like the common cold: They’re easily caught, undesirable and if left untreated, can lead to something much more serious. Across Iowa, a variety of species threaten our native ecosystems. These weeds dominate and choke out wild and native plants, leading to less diverse native natural areas.

The following are five of the most common and threatening invasive species in Iowa.

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Calendar photography submissions

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Iowa is a photographer’s dream: stunning landscapes, remarkable wildlife and spectacular natural moments. Every year, INHF celebrates this beauty in a nature calendar. We love highlighting the best of what Iowa has to offer and seeing our great state through your eyes—and lens.

We are now accepting submissions for the 2017 calendar.

If you’re interested in submitting photos for consideration before the July 1 deadline, you’ll find helpful resources on our website for more information. Also make sure to review our general photo submission guidelines. Questions should be directed to Kerri Sorrell at ksorrell@inhf.org or 515-288-1846, ext. 24.

Gift to Iowa’s Future Day celebrates Iowa landowners

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On Thursday, March 24, a group of Iowa landowners were honored at the state capitol building for gifts of conservation land, land value and conservation easements made in 2015. “Gift To Iowa’s Future” day is an annual celebration of private landowners and organizations who protect their land for natural resources and recreation opportunities. 2015 gifts totaled more than $10 million and protected over 4,500 acres in 15 counties.

16 of the 23 landowners honored worked in partnership with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to protect their land.

“Private landowners are instrumental in protecting Iowa’s land, water and wildlife,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “Gift to Iowa’s Future Day is a chance for us to celebrate the generous contributions individual Iowans make to conservation each year. It is truly humbling to see the impact of these gifts across the state.”
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5 things you didn’t know about the “Easter Bunny”

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Photo by Michelle Tribe via Flickr Creative Commons

Here comes Peter Cottontail — and he’s right in your backyard! The cottontail rabbit is one of Iowa’s most popular native species and can be found across the state. These cute critters are common, but still hold a few surprises. Here are five unusual facts about the species:

  • Female cottontails are slightly larger than the males, but the average rabbit weighs around two pounds and is 14 to 20 inches long.
  • In states with high agriculture production, like Iowa, cottontails seek out waste grains — including corn, soybeans and wheat — to eat in the fall and winter.
  • Cottontails have eyes on the sides of their heads, which makes it easy for them to spot danger without moving.
  • Most cottontails spend their whole life within a five-acre radius.
  • Ideal rabbit habitat in Iowa includes a mix of cropland, grassland, brushy woodland, briar patches and hedgerows.

Want to learn more about the cottontail rabbit? Check out additional information from our friends at the Iowa DNR under “Mammals,” here.

Happy Easter!

Environmental Lobby Day: Let Your Voice Be Heard

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Join INHF & representatives from environmental groups across the state at the Iowa State Capitol building on Tues., March 22 to advocate for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Iowans will have the chance to speak to legislators about why Iowa’s natural resources are vital to the state, its residents and its economy.

Event details:

WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY DAY?
Each year, organizations and individuals from across the state come together at the Capitol to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting and preserving Iowa’s natural resources at Environmental Lobby Day and REAP Day at the Capitol. Speaking face-to-face with legislators and showing that there is a broad base of support for a healthy environment is one of the most important ways to help advance programs and policies that protect Iowa’s water, land and air. Continue reading

Two new nature areas for Story County

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We recently announced the opportunity to create two new nature areas in Story County. A public presentation on March 22 by INHF President Joe McGovern introduced the public to efforts to establish the new Gray Ghost Prairie and the Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area.

“While the majority of the funding for both these new areas is expected to come from competitive public grants, private contributions will also be needed for both projects,” said McGovern.

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Where the Wild Things Are: Greater Prairie Chickens

Welcome to “Where the Wild Things Are,” a monthly series where we feature a unique native species — and the best spots to glimpse these creatures. This month we’re featuring the eccentric Prairie Chicken.

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Large, feathered, and noisy, the prairie chicken isn’t all that different from a typical fowl. However, a few distinct qualities set the birds apart. Male prairie chickens feature orange feathers above their eyes and a pair of inflatable neck sacs. These sacs are also bright orange and puff up during the bird’s notable mating practice. Continue reading