About Kerri

Kerri Sorrell is the Digital Outreach Assistant at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

Nature Walk: Cryptic Coloration

Tree Sparrow in Prairie

Cryptic coloration is another term for camouflage commonly found in many species of animals. It’s easy to see that the earth tones of this tree sparrow are the same as vegetation in winter prairie. At a distance, they blend perfectly into the background to give protection from predation.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Ice Designs

ice Designs

photo by Carl Kurtz

Plants such as bulrushes, cattails, water lilies and animals such as frogs, fish or even snail shells often freeze on or just below the surface of ice that has formed on ponds and lakes.  Dark colored objects readily absorb sunlight creating heat that melts the ice around the object.  An impression or design is left than can be simple or intricate as with these river bulrush stems.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Nature Walk: Red-tailed Hawks

Red-tailed Hawks

Bird identification can require serious observation and science.  Here we have two red-tailed hawks that are completely different.  On a recent bald eagle survey, wildlife biologist Bruce Ehresman helped us identify Krider’s red-tailed hawk, which is believed to be a subspecies of the more common Red-tailed hawk.   Krider’s is a bird of the Great Plains while the Red-tail is found across the entire US.  These images show the dramatic differences in coloration with Krider’s lacking the red tail altogether.

If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo or requesting information on possible use of any of our “Nature Walk” photographs, please contact Carl Kurtz at cpkurtz@netins.net. View our other Nature Walk posts!

Try something new this winter: Ice fishing

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 4_36_59 PM 2When the winter chill sets in, it can be difficult for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy all the open-air opportunities Iowa has to offer. But the winter months don’t have to halt outdoor fun. This winter, try something new: Ice fishing is a great way to extend Iowa’s recreational season year-round and enjoy the state’s beauty with friends and family.

The expansive Clear Lake in Cerro Gordo County is the perfect location for this cold-weather activity. You’ll find an abundance of fish species, including yellow bass, walleye and muskie as well as a growing population of perch and bluegills. The lake has an ample amount of fishable areas to claim and plenty of local resources to get first-time ice fishermen — and ladies — fishing safely and successfully. Continue reading

Where to see bald eagles this winter

Calling all eagle lovers: This winter, never miss a chance to see a bald eagle soaring overhead.

Our friends at Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area have compiled a map of active eagle nests and viewing areas along the Mississippi River. Locations are mapped by GPS coordinates or well-known landmarks.

View the map here:

Where do you eagle watch in Iowa?

3 conservation policy wins we’re celebrating

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Bison roaming Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service Midwest

This winter solstice, INHF is celebrating three pieces of conservation policy signed by President Obama last week that provide huge support to Iowans hoping to do individual conservation and support conservation efforts in Iowa.

Conservation Easement tax incentives
Conservation easements are a great way for Iowans who want to protect the natural resource value of their land in the future. Iowans who donate a conservation easement are eligible for income tax credits to offset the value of their land donation. First enacted as temporary provisions in 2006 (needing to be renewed on a yearly basis), these tax incentives are directly responsible for conserving more than 2 million acres of America’s natural outdoor heritage. Last Friday, Congress and the president approved these tax incentives as permanent.

The incentive grants certain tax benefits to landowners who sign a conservation easement. Such private, voluntary agreements with local land trusts permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Lands placed into conservation easements can continue to be farmed, hunted or used for other specified purposes. The lands also remain on county tax rolls, strengthening local economies. Continue reading

9 great conservation projects happening right now

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From trail connections to wetland restoration to important wildlife habitat, INHF
is working on some great projects. With your help, we can protect, restore and connect these places that are so important to Iowa’s natural beauty.

Burr Wildlife Area Addition — This addition of 411 acres to the Burr Wildlife area has many people encouraged. Besides the beauty of the rolling hills, prairie and oak trees, this addition means 600 acres of public land along this corridor will be protected, allowing for increased habitat and water protection.
Support this project

 

BruceMorrison-Oxbow-OtterCreekOtter Creek Wildlife Area Addition — 67-acre property is adjacent to the 275 protected acres of the Otter Creek Wildlife Area in Sioux County Conservation Board ownership and will expand the size of the habitat available to area wildlife. The land will feature restored prairie and wetland areas, prime for wildlife viewing and hunting. Reestablishing native grasses will provide nesting and winter cover for birds.
Support this project Continue reading

Apply Now: INHF Blufflands Land Stewardship summer internship

Looking for a summer internship but don’t want to sit at a desk all day? Get outside and come work with INHF in northeastern Iowa!

We’re looking for four motivated individuals with a passion for preserving and protecting Iowa’s landscape. Have what it takes? Check out a recap from last year and read the description below. Applications for the 2016 summer crew are due Friday, Feb. 12.

Job description
Blufflands Land Stewardship interns work hard to maintain and restore native landscapes in extreme northeast Iowa. Interns will conduct needed land management and restoration on remnant and reconstructed prairies, woodlands, oak savannas and other natural areas owned or protected by INHF. Interns will use a variety of hand tools and chainsaws to help accomplish restoration goals.

Students selected for INHF’s Blufflands internship will learn from and work closely with landowners and working professionals in the field. Educational opportunities beyond the daily work experiences will be provided, including participation in regional natural resources conferences, which will expose interns to several conservationists and organizations in a concentrated setting. First aid, CPR and harassment training will be provided at the beginning of the internship.

The internship will give interns vital skills and experience for a career in conservation or land management, as well as a greater appreciation for the importance of our natural areas. This is a physically demanding, yet very rewarding internship!

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Work examples
Much of the work will focus on prairie, oak savanna and woodland restoration with an emphasis on invasive species control. Control of species is by chainsaw, hand saw, digging, pulling and herbicide treatment. Removing Eastern Red Cedars from hill prairies, thinning oak woodlands of fire-intolerant tree species and pulling Wild Parsnip from reconstructed prairies are examples of some of the important restoration work that will be performed. Stream bank stabilization, fire break construction and prairie seed collection are other possible intern activities.

Skills/qualifications
This internship is physically demanding, requiring fit, motivated individuals. Those with a positive attitude, eagerness to learn and desire to make our natural areas healthier are well-suited for this position. Interns will work exclusively outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions including heat, humidity and rain. Driving to various work sites (mostly in Winneshiek and Allamakee counties) is required, so interns must have a working vehicle. Carpooling is highly encouraged. Prior land management experience or a farm IMG_6334background is desirable, but not required. College students of any grade level, even freshmen, are eligible for this internship. Compatible majors to this internship include, but are not limited to: Animal Ecology, Botany, Biology, Forestry, Environmental Studies or Environmental Science.

NOTE: This internship does not supply lodging or meals.

Availability
Four full-time interns will be hired and work together as a crew. The internship begins May 23 and ends August 11. Interns will work a total of 11 weeks within that period. The work week will consist of 10 hour days, Monday through Thursday. Pay is $9.75/hr.

Application info
To apply, please send Brian Fankhauser, Blufflands Program Director, the following:

  • A cover letter outlining your qualifications and why you want this position
  • Resume
  • Your college transcripts (official or unofficial)
  • Two letters of recommendation, with at least one being written by a professor in your major. The letters may be included in your application or sent separately by the writer. Include reference contact information.

Mail or email your application to the address below.  Feel free to call or email in advance if you have questions.

Our internships are sponsored by the Richard “Sandy” Rhodes Internship Program, the Svare Family Internship fund, the Robert R. Buckmaster Internship, funded by the R.J. McElroy Trust and many other idividual donors.

Brian Fankhauser, Blufflands Program Director
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
1111 S. Paine St., Suite E
Decorah, Iowa 52101

Phone:  563-382-2008
Email: bfankhauser@inhf.org

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All I Want for Christmas is $180 million

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As we head toward the start of the 2016 legislative session, (Monday, Jan. 11) our thoughts turn away from the whirlwind of shopping, wrapping, cooking and family gatherings consuming our attention toward what could be the most important gift we could give ourselves, the funding of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund.

This is a gift that would give year after year, protecting our water, preventing the loss of precious topsoil and providing habitat for our diverse wildlife. This gift would support quality of life initiatives like trails and parks, which contribute to making Iowa, its economy and its people, thrive.

This is a gift we owe ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, and we need to do it NOW. Continue reading

Acorn cookies to spice up your Thanksgiving

Here at INHF, we’re getting into the Thanksgiving spirit! Learn how to make these acorn-shaped cookies for any holiday gathering!

Ingredients

1 package oreos, crushed
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
Pecans, finely crushed
Pretzel sticks, broken into thirds

Directions

1. Mix oreos and cream cheese together. Blend well.
2. Take 1 Tbsp. of the mixture and form into an oval, then pinch the end to create a tapered, acorn shape. 
3. Place the acorns on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 1 hour or until hard.
4. Melt 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in the microwave. Take chilled acorns and dip in chocolate. Use a fork to move the acorn around as the mixture will be hot. Once thoroughly coated, remove and place on a new wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Use a toothpick to smoothly transfer the acorn to the baking sheet.
5. Repeat step 4 until all acorns are coated. Let them harden at room temperature.
6. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips. Take the hardened acorns and dip the wide end in chocolate again, then roll in crushed pecans.
7. Dip one end of a pretzel stick in chocolate, then press onto the top of the acorn.
8. Allow pretzels and nuts to set, then serve and enjoy!

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