Iowans get to know Turin Prairie

This is yours now, Iowa. Get outside and enjoy it.

Turin Prairie in Monona County

Turin Prairie in Monona County

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). Continue reading

IWILL: Working for action on conservation

This legislative session, Iowa’s natural resources are at the top of the priority list.

Photo by Kristy Hall

Photo by Kristy Hall

At the start of the 2016 legislative session, Gov. Terry Branstad announced a proposal to address water quality that he called his biggest and boldest proposal ever, but it did not find support from both chambers. After several other proposals, the session adjourned without reaching a compromise on how to best address these concerns.

Between now and the November election, Iowans have an opportunity to make our natural resources an issue on which candidates must take a position. Continue reading

Inman says goodbye to INHF

HannahIowa Natural Heritage Foundation Director of Communications Hannah Inman announced May 4 that she was leaving INHF at the end of the month to spend more time with her family and help with their family business. Inman had been with INHF since 2011, and she has become an integral part of the Iowa conservation community over the last four years. Her work with the foundation included overseeing a redesign of Iowa Natural Heritage magazine and the launch of the first-of-its-kind Iowa By Trail app. Inman wrote the following about her departure:

In my first few weeks of working at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, I took a trip to one of our properties in northeast Iowa. As I hiked the property with Brian Fankhauser, our Blufflands Director, the mission of INHF moved from words said to words felt.

As I stood up on the bluff overlooking the winding Upper Iowa River, deer ran through the newly restored woodland while an immature bald eagle and its parent flew below me. A deep peace came over me and it was in that moment that I knew my purpose was to help protect these places for the voiceless — for those that long ago loved this place, for those that will love this land and for the many other species that call this place home. I needed to be a voice and steward for our home — for our land, water, wildlife and future generations.

Over the last four years, working at INHF, I have been able to do that. I am incredibly proud and humbled with the work we have done together. We redesigned Iowa Natural Heritage magazine, launched the Iowa by Trail app, witnessed an inspiring transition between foundation presidents, celebrated 35 great years of impactful work, passed the Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond and have made great strides in funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. But probably the most inspiring part of this work was being part of a team of the most dedicated, caring, hardworking, passionate people I have ever met.

The decision to leave was not an easy one. But this transition is made easier knowing that because of INHF, I can continue to fulfill my purpose through supporting their work. So as I move from employee to volunteer, I want to say thank you to all the members, donors, board and staff for letting me be a small part of the tremendous legacy we are building together through the Foundation.

Hannah Inman

Inman’s last day was May 31. Effective today, June 1, Joe Jayjack will be interim director of communications. Jayjack has been a communications specialist with INHF for the last six months.

Gifts to Iowa’s future

There are moments in the life of each INHF project in which the staff tries to pause and reflect — maybe even celebrate a little — before moving onto the next one. It could be a formal dedication, such as the Paint Creek Valley Addition to Yellow River State Forest on May 7. Or it could simply be transferring ownership of a property from INHF to a public agency.

Gunderson land May 2010 024

Mary Lou and Bob Gunderson.

Earlier this week, INHF transferred 12 acres to the city of Eldora in Hardin County. The land had been donated by Mary Lou and Bob Gunderson, and it will be known as Gunderson Nature Park. A trail loop, prairie and savanna reconstruction, butterfly habitat and a nature-scape play area are planned by the city. The transfer was another step in permanently protecting this place’s land, water and wildlife — the ultimate goal of every INHF project.

The Gundersons have a long history of conservation work in Iowa, especially along the Iowa River Greenbelt. They were one of 18 individuals, families and organizations honored by the state of Iowa last month at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day. Twelve of this year’s honorees worked with INHF to find the right options to permanently protect their land. Dave Mackaman, INHF board 1st vice chair, took some time to reflect on the ceremony:

“Attending the Gift to Iowa’s Future recognition event at the state capital was a memorable pleasure. The selfless and forwarding thinking actions of these land and easement donors were without doubt inspirational, and to have elected and public officials, INHF representatives, family, friends, and admirers there to thank these individuals was heartwarming. 

“After the formal recognition event, members from the INHF team hosted a luncheon for those donors with whom the Foundation had the privilege of working. During the luncheon the attendees all shared personal perspective around an individual, a memory, or a place that sparked their own passion around nature and conservation.

“The stories flowed with emotion, at times eliciting laughter and beaming smiles from the group, and at other times drawing out gentle tears. In all cases, the stories united us in the room around the power of our connective passion for our state and its wild places. As I listened to the stories, I imagined a group of people gathering in the future, somewhere, sometime down the road, knowing that it could well be the people in this room that would be featured in that group’s stories of who sparked the passion for nature and conservation within them, and knowing that INHF will be there to help keep it going.”

Learn more about those honored at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day here.