There’s been exciting work happening with some inspiring individuals this month. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation frequently hosts volunteer events to clear invasive species, harvest seed for prairie restoration and many more activities. Here’s what we, and volunteers, have been up to.
Mathes Volunteer Day
On October 2 volunteers gathered in Marion County at the Mathes Property near Pella, Iowa. INHF partnered with the Iowa DNR “Keepers of the Land” Program and Central College to harvest wildflower seed and remove invasive species.
“There was little seed to collect, but the property needs love all the same,” Mary Runkel, INHF volunteer coordinator said about the Mathes Property. “It’s important to remember what the land looks like, has looked like and what it can look like again.”
Part of the seed harvest went to the Prairie Resource Center. The seeds will be used to help restore other Iowa landscapes and protected properties throughout the state.
“Anna’s Place” Volunteer Day
On the morning of October 17, graduate students in Iowa State University’s Natural Resource and Ecology Management Department met with INHF staff for what Runkel called an “intense workday” in Boone County.
Starting the morning with some coffee by the fire at Anna’s Place, or the Garner Woodland, students later would hike along the Des Moines River Valley to remove invasive species. There were three hilltop prairies that the group had to clear for autumn olive and cedars. This event was INHF’s sixth workday with NREM graduate students.
“It was the perfect fall day,” recalls Runkel. “Three former INHF interns even came to help us out and they were able to chainsaw for us” to help with species removal.
The group also got to visit the 13 foot diameter oak tree that’s on the property. When oaks grow in the wild without anything to stop their development, they can be just as far wide as they are tall. The branches of this particular oak extend far out from the trunk, and every year the volunteers get to see its progress.