Our land stewardship interns worked at the Buckmaster property in Allamakee County last week. They removed brush on a hillside prairie protected by a conservation easement with INHF. Interns have worked on the property since 2008.
The Buckmaster family and INHF have a voluntary land protection agreement in place—or conservation easement—to protect a 146-acre site in Iowa’s northeast corner with more than two miles of bluff-line along the Mississippi River, including the dramatically angled bluff Capoli (CAP-oh-lie), which rises 420 feet above the river. Thanks to work from our interns (and many other helpers, including INHF staff) on removing cedars, invasive brush and conducting controlled burns, an increasingly diverse prairie now covers Capoli’s slopes.
This conservation easement keeps the land in private ownership while restricting uses that could damage its natural resources. The protected property has woodlands, remnant prairie, oak savanna and wildlife habitat. And sometimes, even rare snake species can be found here.
Venomous snakes in Iowa
Found in eastern and southern Iowa, the timber rattlesnake is one of only four venomous snakes in Iowa. Luckily, if treated, its bite rarely causes a fatality. Also rare? Actually spotting one. But our savvy land stewardship interns have done exactly that on the Buckmaster property. If you want to spot one yourself, keep an eye out on rock outcroppings—they like to sunbathe.
Bob Buckmaster’s legacy
The late Bob Buckmaster acquired the 800 total acres of property just south of Lansing in 1958. An enthusiastic outdoorsman, he helped found INHF in 1979 and served as the first board chair until 1982, all the while advising his children to “live where you want to live and the rest will follow.” After spending every possible moment on the site during his childhood, Bob’s son Raleigh and wife JoEllyn “Joey” Buckmaster ultimately purchased the property in 1974, knowing it deserved the special treatment it’s gotten since.
Besides the property, Bob also contributed to INHF’s legacy by supporting our internship program. For many years, he served as board chair of the R.J. McElroy Trust of Waterloo, a private foundation that funds an annual grant to INHF for internships, giving Iowa college students valuable career experience and knowledge about the environment, the non-profit world and the work that INHF does. A grant from the McElroy Trust launched our internship program in 1986, and the positions still funded by this trust are called Buckmaster Interns in Bob’s honor, a fitting tribute to an exceptional Iowa leader and conservationist who loved to give a boost to the careers of talented young people. We’re always so pleased when our interns can work on this land that our founding chair first protected.