Duane Sand: A career of unlocking conservation possibilities


Thirty-two years ago, Duane Sand asked me to help him with some summer communication about a concept he hoped would become part of the 1985 Farm Bill. It would give farmers an incentive to put their most erosive acres into grassland cover for ten years. Today you know it as CRP – the Conservation Reserve Program.

In his quiet, behind-the-scenes way, Duane has always been on the forefront of fresh concepts to protect land and water. He would be the last one to draw attention to his 40-year conservation career. But I believe his story can help to inspire a new generation of conservation thinkers who might follow their own paths of innovation for the good of the cause. Continue reading

Meet INHF’s new communications interns

Rachel Headshot Hi everyone!

My name is Rachel Dupree and I’ll be joining the INHF communications team this fall. I’m a senior at Drake University studying public relations and international relations with a concentration in global public health. I’m originally from Forest Lake, Minnesota, but I love Des Moines more than my heart can stand. Continue reading

Why an acorn?

All Rights Reserved INHF“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.” – English Proverb

At the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, we’ve learned firsthand that great things can grow from small beginnings. Just as Iowa’s state tree, the oak, grows to be a towering natural marvel from a tiny acorn.

Much like the oak tree, INHF grew from a small group of dedicated individuals to the 7,000-member organization we are today. Continue reading

Why young professionals care

Iowa is the most developed state in the nation.  Due to expanded agricultural and urban development, the pressure on our land in Iowa is about as intense as all the political ads come October in an election year.  Yet, it seems like traditional establishments care less and less about conservation issues.  You hear less about it political rhetoric, and a tired manufactured empirically disproven jobs vs. environment myth is rolled out.

Yet, young professionals inherently understand conservation is an important value that speaks to our generation and the life we want to live. Look at San Francisco and Austin – vibrant economies that attract young people centered around rich natural resources and a community that values them.  We understand that conservation is good for our economy and attracts members of the start-ups and tech class to not only begin their companies here in Iowa but to stay.  Iowa is a good place to do business, raise a family and has a good quality of life that is due to conservation and community building trails.

The generations that came before laid a good foundation in conservation.  Now is the crucial time to not only maintain and prevent a loss in the advancement of these values we hold dear, but to move it forward.

The Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond will be an interesting test of not only these values, but our generation’s place in affecting an election.  This bond, which is on the general election ballot in Polk County, provides funding for already well planned out conservation projects by Polk County Conservation Board.  This non-partisan, $50 million bond over 20 years would cost the average Polk County homeowner less than $9 a year.  Projects would help improve water quality, expand habitat and green space for flood prevention and wildlife, and parks and trails.

A group of young professionals in Polk County feels passionate about this bond and the values it brings to the community, so they have organized in this generation’s iconic fashion.  You can learn a little more formally about them here, but if you really want to know more about them, come by tonight at Sbrocco, where Scott Siepker of Iowa Nice fame will be talking about the bond, where donations will be taken with Dwolla and some of the young leaders will be sharing in real-time both face to face and through social media channels, why conservation matters not just to us, but to all Iowans.

For our generation understands that the question is not if we should care for our environment, but how.  And it is clear that now is the time to take a stand for our land, water and wildlife. We have the rare opportunity to define our generation’s legacy, not just for today, or tomorrow, but for our children’s children.  For long after we are gone, we will not be defined by the money we have made or the buildings we have built, but by the water our grandchildren drink, play and bathe in.

Nature Walk: Bird Bath

All Rights Reserved Carl Kurtz

Birds bathe to keep their feathers in good condition for flying and to create an insulation blanket that protects them from extremes in temperature. Often different types of birds have favorite spots, oftentimes near running water or where there is protection from predators. In this case, two Nashville warblers and a white-throated sparrow bathe on a lake edge beneath a canopy of shrubs. Kurtz says, “It seemed to be a favorite spot for a host of species, which returned over and over again throughout the day.”

We love trying to count all of the different bird species we spot while out enjoying nature in Iowa. What are some of your favorites?

If you are interested in purchasing a print or requesting information on possible use for any of these photographs, please contact Carl at cpkurtz@netins.net.

Meet “America’s Darling”

All Rights Reserved INHFDing Darling was a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and an accomplished Iowa conservationist.

From heading the U.S. Biological Survey to founding the U.S. Duck Stamp Program, Darling was committed to protecting the land he loved for future generations. Since we also have a deep love for the land we live on, INHF works to ensure Iowans remember the state’s great conservation leader and continues to support Iowa environmental education in Darling’s name. Continue reading

Nature Walk: Variegated Fritillary

All Rights Reserved Carl Kurtz

Butterflies, like birds, are highly migratory. While many nature lovers are familiar with the monarch and its annual journey to Mexico, many other species, such as this Variegated Fritillary, also have unique migratory patterns. These butterflies are common in the southern United States, however, wind and moisture conditions may facilitate dramatic northward movement one year, but not the next. Dry weather and drought conditions across the country may be a determining factor in migratory patterns this year.

Humans aren’t the only ones who have to prepare for the end of the steamy summer months. Many birds – and even butterflies – migrate to warmer climates to avoid cold winter temperatures in states like Iowa. Continue reading

Nature Walk: Yellow-Rumped Warblers

All Rights Reserved Carl Kurtz

Yellow-Rumped Warblers are primarily insect feeders and one of the early passerine species to head south for wintering areas in tropical and sub-tropical forests. Veritable waves of boreal forest nesters make this migration each year. They are voracious flycatchers able to snatch small insects out of the air. Keep your eyes peeled for them in the coming weeks!

As the colors of the leaves start to change, you may notice other changes in some of your favorite wild places. Soon birds like the Yellow-Rumped Warbler will begin to head south for warmer temperatures during Iowa’s cold winter months. Continue reading