This is yours now, Iowa. Get outside and enjoy it.
More than 75 people gathered Saturday to help dedicate Turin Prairie in the Loess Hills of Monona County. A project years in the making was opened to the public on National Public Lands Day, as ownership and management of Turin Prairie was turned over from Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Speakers included Chuck Gipp, Director of the Iowa DNR; Peg Petrzelka, a major donor to the project; and Joe McGovern, INHF president.
Attendees then participated in a nature hike, a prairie seed harvest and a driving tour of the complex. The seed collected during the event will be used for further prairie restoration on Turin.
Successful projects don’t happen without strong leadership and partnerships. Thank you to the following for providing structure and funding for Turin Prairie:
- Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)
- Iowa Natural Resource License Plate
- Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Stamp
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
Also, thank you to the nearly 1,000 private donors that made this project possible, including the Loess Hills Alliance and Helen A. Riggenberg.
Here is a little more information about Turin Prairie:
Turin complex is home to over 150 bird species and an impressive array of native prairie flowers and grasses. Due to the size of the protected area, the hills can shelter such sensitive species as the Regal Fritillary butterfly, Great Plains skink, bobcat and Plains Pocket mouse. Thanks to the efforts of previous landowners, sections of Turin Prairie are largely clear of eastern red cedars, the bane of the Loess Hills’ prairie.
The 467-acre addition — which includes over 200 acres of remnant prairie — will expand the protected habitat to almost 1,200 acres. Larger expanses of prairie are less vulnerable to invasive species, which often find their foothold along habitat edges.
For a full mile, Turin Prairie shares a border with the Turin Loess Hills State Preserve and the adjoining wildlife management area. Its protection ensures permanent wholeness for this ridge. The mix of grass- lands and woodlands in this complex offer a haven for birds migrating along the Missouri River flyway.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
INHF and Iowa DNR staffs are developing a 15-year management and restoration plan for this site. Restoration efforts have already begun. Prescribed fire and manual brush removal are improving the areas where cedar encroachment threatens native prairie. Over time, the crop fields on site will be restored to prairie grasses and flowers.