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.”
Learn more our honorees:
Cindy and Kevin Burke
Cindy and Kevin Burke of Central City donated an 80-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in Linn County with the intention of protecting the wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and open space character of the property. The easement is adjacent to another easement the Burkes completed in 2010. Both easements act as buffers to the Matsell Bridge Natural Area and protection of perennial habitat has a positive impact on the Wapsipinicon River watershed.
Eugene and Marva DeBoer
Eugene and Marva DeBoer of Adel first purchased 80 acres of prairie and woodland in rural Guthrie County in the 1970s. Two decades later, they added another 40-acre parcel, restoring former cropland to prairie along the way. In 2015, the DeBoers decided to permanently protect their land with a conservation easement with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on all 120 acres, protecting the woodland, prairie grasses and wildflowers, all ideal for wildlife habitat.
David and Rita Dudley
Dave and Rita Dudley of Garber, Iowa donated a 105-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Dubuque County property will protect wildlife habitat along the North Fork of the Maquoketa River corridor. The easement also protects a mixture of prairie reconstruction on former agricultural fields, mature oak-hickory woodland and west-facing slopes above the river. Small caves, steep bluffs and rock outcroppings line the protected river bank.
Rosie Hall of Thurman protected an important piece of the Loess Hills with a bargain sale of her 159-acre property in Fremont County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Her property is located within the Waubonsie Special Landscape Area. The land features the unique “peak and saddle” topography of the loess deposits that developed thousands of years ago and contains State Endangered Species biscuitroot and two other plants listed as state Special Concern species. The addition of Rosie’s property has pushed the Waubonsie Special Landscape Area to over 2,000 protected acres.
OMG Midwest, Inc., dba Hallett Materials in Wall Lake acquired their 313-acre Sac County property in 2002 and transferred the land in a 2015 bargain sale to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The parcel lies along a stretch of the North Raccoon River that is listed on Iowa’s Impaired Waters List. The protection should help to improve water quality in this major source of drinking water for the Des Moines metro. The area also provides significant public hunting and fishing opportunities.
Bill and Linda Heine
Bill and Linda Heine of Chimney Rock Ranch, LLC. amended their 100-acre conservation easement in Winneshiek County and donated the amended value to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The arrangement will further enhance the viewshed of the Upper Iowa River and provide additional wildlife habitat to the permanently protected property. The easement will benefit the water quality of the Upper Iowa River and Coldwater Creek, a popular trout stream.
Ben and Loline Johnson
Ben and Loline Johnson of Van Meter donated a conservation easement on 150 acres in Madison County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The easement was created to protect wildlife habitat, preserve prairie and conserve open space characteristics of the rolling hills in the Southern Iowa Drift Plain. The property consists of remnant and reconstructed prairie, a pond, wooded creek valleys and open space, which provides valuable habitat for pollinators and grassland species.
Bob and Roslea Johnson
When Bob and Roslea Johnson of Des Moines first acquired their Madison County farm, they had little idea of the conservation value it held. The pair initially worked to restore the former quarry site for cattle grazing, but along the way, they discovered prairie remnants. After discovering their property’s special features and putting in years of work to steward, protect and connect the remnant pieces, Bob and Roslea donated 60 acres of their property to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Johnsons’ donation ensures protection for unusual plants and provides a refuge for the abundant wildlife including deer, turkeys, bobcats, dragonflies and butterflies. The gift also helped INHF reach a major milestone: 150,000 acres protected statewide since it was founded in 1979.
Lorna Sellberg of Ames transferred her 49-acre property, a mix of pasture and remnant prairie, in a 2015 bargain sale to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property is intersected by the West Indian Creek, and permanent protection will directly benefit the creek’s watershed. Sellberg did some additional seedings of native prairie plants into the pasture, and looks forward to the day the land is in public ownership by Story County as an “oasis.”
Shippers Consortium, Inc.
Shippers Consortium, Inc. of Ames donated approximately 7.3 miles of the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad line to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2015. The land will go toward extending the Raccoon River Valley Trail from Herndon to Coon Rapids, thus connecting central Iowa’s trail system to the mountain bike trails and other outdoor opportunities at Whiterock Conservancy.
Kyle Tobiason donated a conservation easement on his 92-acre property in Jones County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The easement will protect wildlife habitat and improve the water quality of the impaired Maquoketa River. The parcel is close to other conservation projects, including Eby’s Mill Wildlife Area and Indian Bluffs and Pictured Rocks Wildlife Management Area. The Tobiason conservation easement is a key addition to the habitat corridor along the Maquoketa.