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

Bringing wildness back to Clear Lake

Pre-settlement, the Clear Lake area was a wildlife haven. Now in one of the most popular tourism spots in the state, INHF is helping to restore a measure of wildness.

DSC_2039 copy

Restoration on the Pedelty property, a former golf course, will see restored wetland, prairie and savanna and will benefit the area’s many bird and non-game species. Photo by Ross Baxter, INHF

Early accounts of Clear Lake, a spring-fed lake with origins in the last glacial period, tell of its use as a favorite summer camping ground of the Sioux and Winnebago peoples. By the mid-1800s, tales of the beautiful lake with plentiful fish and wildlife had captured the attention and imagination of Euro-American settlers. In short order, what had been a wild and vast wetland-pocked prairie ecosystem, replete with a dizzying array of native plants and animals, was being domesticated. Continue reading

Pieces of the Puzzle: Waterman Prairie Addition


The process of completing a land protection project closely resembles putting a puzzle together, and sometimes the pieces are challenging to locate or difficult to put into place.

A 227-acre addition to Waterman Prairie Wildlife Management Area in O’Brien County is part of a “puzzle” that connects two protected natural areas and adds a large tract to the 1500-acre Waterman complex, about 3.5 miles southeast of Sutherland. The addition is host to many distinctive features that make up the northwest Iowa landscape. It boasts soft-edged rolling hills with remnant prairie, a wooded, winding creek, oak savanna and a large oak woodland. The Iowa DNR approached INHF to help acquire this connecting piece in fall 2014. Continue reading

Land protection in Madison County and a milestone for INHF


Roslea Johnson, left, touring her property with For Land’s Sake.

When Bob and Roslea Johnson donated part of their Madison County farm to INHF, they had no idea that their generosity would help INHF reach a major milestone: 150,000 acres protected statewide.

Since 1979, INHF has worked to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife in a variety of ways: through the expansion of publicly-owned lands, the placement of conservation easements on privately-owned lands, the piecing together of miles-long trail projects. It is the foresight and dedication of private landowners like the Johnsons that make the work possible. Continue reading

Prairie planting: Drilling vs Broadcasting a prairie

Planting or restoring prairie has become a common practice at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Each year, INHF collects and purchases local ecotype prairie seed for restorative projects. You may have seen our video on how to make a healthy prairie a few weeks ago, but there are several different ways to plant a prairie. Two common techniques are broadcast seeding and drilling. INHF has used both techniques in the past.

Broadcast seeding

Using this method, the seeds are spread across the ground either by hand or by using a broadcast seeder mounted on an ATV or tractor.

INHF staff hand scattering seed

INHF staff hand scattering seed

Broadcast seeding isn’t as simple as throwing out seed and hoping something grows. It’s very calculated and requires following a few steps. First, all seeds being used in the prairie seeding must be properly mixed to allow for even distribution across the planting area. Seeds may need to be mixed with a carrier, like sand or annual oats, to add necessary bulk to the mix. This ensures even spread and that you’ll have enough seed to cover an area. Several options are available to use as a carrier, but for INHF, natural debris left in the mix during seed harvest, like prairie stems and leaves, prove a great carrier. Additionally, care must be taken to ensure proper flow of seed out of the broadcast seeder and suitable speed is met, so as to allow the machine to cover the entire seeding area. Distributing the seed too fast or too slow can affect the efficiency of the entire process. Continue reading

9 great conservation projects happening right now

09688d0d-89e5-4376-ae26-d5f7813c50cc (1)

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

INHF in action: New addition to Stephens State Forest

Yoder 5-24-2013 RAB (38)

Soap Creek runs through the 227-acre addition to Stephen’s State Forest in Davis County.

INHF recently assisted the Iowa DNR in acquiring a 227-acre addition to Stephens State Forest and Soap Creek WMA. The property is located approximately 4 miles northeast of Unionville in Davis county. INHF purchased the property in 2013 and held it until recently when the DNR was able to purchase it and open it to public use.

Indiana Bat

The Indiana bat

The area is a mix of habitats with over 100 acres of oak-hickory woodland. Part of the property borders Soap Creek, where restored riverine wetlands protect water quality.
Soap Creek is one of four Iowa Flood Center priority watersheds identified in a project with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Flooding on Soap Creek has been a problem for decades, and the protection of this property with support the goals of the Iowa Flood Center/HUD project, which include:

  • Maximize soil water holding capacity from precipitation
  • Miniminze severe soil erosion and sand deposition during floods
  • Manage water runoff in uplands under saturated soil moisture conditions
  • Reduce and mitigate structural and nonstructural flood damage

Continue reading

Apply for INHF’s summer land stewardship internship

Looking for a summer internship? Want to help restore Iowa’s natural beauty while learning about ecology, land management, and wildlife? Then apply to be an INHF Land Stewardship intern!

Check out Matt’s story here  and read the description below to get a taste of what exactly the internship entails. Applications for the 2016 summer crew are due Sunday, January 24, 2016.

Continue reading

How to make a healthy prairie

One of our main goals at INHF is to preserve, protect and restore Iowa’s prairies. In addition to creating beautiful landscapes, a thriving prairie ecosystem can prevent soil erosion, provide crucial habitat for wildlife and insects and promote water quality.

We’ve put together a hypothetical recipe for a healthy Iowan prairie. Our mix contains a balanced combination of grasses, sedges and forbs. Each ingredient was hand-selected for a central Iowa ecosystem, and the ideal ratio of grasses to flowering plants promotes optimal prairie health.

We used a grass, sedge and switchgrass mix, and eight varieties of forbs. Each forb serves a specific purpose. Milkweed, for example, provides a food source for pollinators. The greater the diversity, the more resistant the prairie will be to encroaching invasive species.

Want to concoct your own prairie? Contact a local conservation specialist or find a prairie seed dealer, listed under “Services,” here.


INHF, DNR to dedicate the James and Patricia Dinsmore tract at Big Wall Lake

You’re invited! Help dedicate a new 130-acre addition to the Big Wall Lake Wildlife Management Area made possible by James and Patricia Dinsmore’s gift to INHF. The dedication will take place at the site at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. A reception will follow.DSC_0428

James Dinsmore is a published author (A Country So Full of Game) and former Iowa State animal ecology professor. He and his wife sought to make a gift that matched their interest in wildlife and would also protect some of the Iowa landscape James studied for years. The couple found what they were looking for at Big Wall Lake.

dinsmore dedication mapBig Wall is a shallow, 978-acre lake along a major flyway for migrating waterfowl. The lake was in danger for many years, but  underwent a major restoration in 2006 to remove carp and increase outflow so in-lake plants could grow. In 2012, the lake was removed from the state’s list of impaired waters.

The added acres will eventually transfer to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and become part of a public complex. The next step is to transfer a 341-acre property on the northwest corner of Big Wall. The Dinsmores also contributed to that project, and INHF is currently working to raise the remaining funds.

Event Details:

When: Thursday, Oct. 15, 3 p.m. Reception to follow.

Where: 2551 300th St., Clarion Iowa

RSVP to Erin Griffin, INHF Events Coordinator, at or 515-288-1846, ext. 11