What is “Girdling”?

Check out this GoPro footage of our summer interns “girdling” a locust tree in Appanoose Co.

“Girdling” is a practice used to kill invasive large trees encroaching on a habitat. It involves chainsawing one ring or more near the base of a tree. At INHF, we cut two rings into the tree (making sure to reach the cambium layer of the tree) and then spraying the bottom ring with herbicide. The herbicide will reach the roots of the tree, while the top ring ensures that no nutrients reach the tree’s canopy. Instead of chopping the tree down completely, this removal method allows for dead tree habitat for woodpeckers and other wildlife, and results in less brush for hauling.

Girdling is not recommended near fuel breaks for prescribed fire or in areas where the tree is at risk of falling on a road or a fenceline.

The future for floodplains


When rivers rise, the water can cut new channels in a process known as scour, which removes fertile topsoil. The damage shown above occurred on a property along the Upper Iowa River in Allamakee County.

So, what’s the deal with floodplains? Landowners with significant acres of cropland in high-risk areas on floodplains face the potential for significant crop loss and other property damage. There’s also a chance for scour, which occurs when flooded rivers begin to cut new channels, removing fertile topsoil.

What can be done? Good news! New technology has allowed mapping to predict flood risk and relative scour potential in Iowa. Since 2009, scientists at the University of Iowa Flood Center have partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to map accurately flood predication throughout the state, watershed by watershed. Continue reading

Lending a hand to the land

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(All photos by Lexi Ruskell)

Over 70 people lent a hand to the land on July 15 at Cedar Hills Sand Prairie in Black Hawk County. The event was a collaboration between six Iowa land trusts, including INHF, and the University of Northern Iowa’s Tallgrass Prairie Center, which hosted the Iowa Prairie Conference. The Nature Conservancy’s land stewardship team led the slightly overcast volunteer day, though the weather conditions ended up being perfect for working in the open space of the prairie. Continue reading

Heritage Valley: The little things in life

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An Iowa DNR member presents on a plant species to an attentive volunteer. (Photo by Jessica Rilling)

As I reflect back on our summer seed harvest on July 9 up and around Heritage Valley in northeast Iowa, I think to myself “What a great day!” But I think that I say that a lot—so this time I’ll do my best to answer WHY it was so great. Continue reading

Coming up Buckmaster

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This view comes from the overlook at Capoli on the Buckmaster property.

ls interns working at buckmaster '15Our land stewardship interns worked at the Buckmaster property in Allamakee County last week. They removed brush on a hillside prairie protected by a conservation easement with INHF. Interns have worked on the property since 2008.

The Buckmaster family and INHF have a voluntary land protection agreement in place—or conservation easement—to protect a 146-acre site in Iowa’s northeast corner with more than two miles of bluff-line along the Mississippi River, including the dramatically angled bluff Capoli (CAP-oh-lie), which rises 420 feet above the river. Thanks to work from our interns (and many other helpers, including INHF staff) on removing cedars, invasive brush and conducting controlled burns, an increasingly diverse prairie now covers Capoli’s slopes. Continue reading

Program Support/Grant Writing summer internship

Program Support interns help write grants and assist with INHF events.

Program Support interns help write grants and assist with INHF events.

Passionate about conservation? Love to write? Apply to be our program support intern this summer! This intern plays a vital role at INHF by writing grants that will provide funding for on-the-ground land conservation. Continue reading

Meet Chris, INHF’s new landscape architecture intern

IMG_0118 copyJoin INHF in welcoming Chris Holmquist to the team!

Originally from Brookings, S.D., Chris is now a senior landscape architecture student at Iowa State University. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and basketball.

As the new landscape architecture intern, Chris will also help with project planning, regional analysis, mapping assistance and proposal writing. His work will focus not only on landscape architectural services but also on public engagement and sustainable design.

Chris started last week, and so far he’s been doing map-making work for the Iowa By Trail app. He looks forward to the rest of his time at INHF. “I’m excited to learn more about conservation.”



INHF welcomes new Communications Intern

Taylor_smallHi all!

My name is Taylor Eisenhauer, and I’m very excited to be INHF’s new Communications Intern. Currently a sophomore at Drake University, I study magazine journalism, English, and rhetoric. I hail from the small town of Herrin, Ill., but Des Moines has definitely become my second home.

In my free time, I like to read and scroll through my social media feeds. When I’m outside, I enjoy playing tennis and talking walks. Walking clears my head, and I like to see what new things I can discover when I look close enough.

As a communications intern, I’ll work with the communications team to write news releases and magazine articles about INHF projects, assist with special events (like our annual Hagie Heritage Award), write blog posts, and update our website and social media.

I’m very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to working with INHF!

If you have any questions (or just want to say hi), I can be reached at commintern@inhf.org.