3 events, 1 great weekend in the Loess Hills

There’s always a good reason to get outdoors, but this trifecta of events will make it impossible to stay inside. Join Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in western Iowa over the first weekend of June. We’re celebrating our great state’s natural areas with a combined volunteer event, the dedication of a new Bird Conservation Area and the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar.  Continue reading

5 of Iowa’s most invasive species (and how to get rid of them)

garlic mustard

An infestation of Garlic Mustard.

Invasive plant species are like the common cold: They’re easily caught, undesirable and if left untreated, can lead to something much more serious. Across Iowa, a variety of species threaten our native ecosystems. These weeds dominate and choke out wild and native plants, leading to less diverse native natural areas.

The following are five of the most common and threatening invasive species in Iowa.

Continue reading

5 things you didn’t know about the “Easter Bunny”


Photo by Michelle Tribe via Flickr Creative Commons

Here comes Peter Cottontail — and he’s right in your backyard! The cottontail rabbit is one of Iowa’s most popular native species and can be found across the state. These cute critters are common, but still hold a few surprises. Here are five unusual facts about the species:

  • Female cottontails are slightly larger than the males, but the average rabbit weighs around two pounds and is 14 to 20 inches long.
  • In states with high agriculture production, like Iowa, cottontails seek out waste grains — including corn, soybeans and wheat — to eat in the fall and winter.
  • Cottontails have eyes on the sides of their heads, which makes it easy for them to spot danger without moving.
  • Most cottontails spend their whole life within a five-acre radius.
  • Ideal rabbit habitat in Iowa includes a mix of cropland, grassland, brushy woodland, briar patches and hedgerows.

Want to learn more about the cottontail rabbit? Check out additional information from our friends at the Iowa DNR under “Mammals,” here.

Happy Easter!

Mines of Spain: Where it all began

Mississippi River, Mines of Spain

Help us celebrate the completion of the E.B. Lyon Interpretive Area Addition at the Mines of Spain in Dubuque County on Monday, August 3! There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 5:15 p.m. followed by tours of site and trail. Continue reading

The prairie calls…for volunteers!

heritage valley_bpf WEB

The sun shines on downy painted cup at Heritage Valley, an INHF property.

Looking for a fun and relaxed volunteer opportunity? You’re in luck! Join INHF and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the a seed harvest in northeast Iowa on Thursday, July 9, from 9 a.m. to noon at Heritage Valley and Solitaire Ridge. Continue reading

Honoring Mark Ackelson at Pro H2O


Mark Ackelson served as INHF president from 1994–2013.

Former INHF president Mark Ackelson will be recognized for his early leadership in shaping the Iowa Environmental Council on Thursday, June 11, at its second annual Pro H2O event, 6-9 p.m. at Brenton Skating Plaza in downtown Des Moines. Continue reading

The scoop on Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes at Chichaqua

Sandhill Cranes at Chichaqua

With Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) season approaching in mid-March, take the opportunity to brush up on your crane knowledge.This bird has been in Iowa since the nineteenth century, but as European settlements grew, the Sandhill Crane population decreased. At the turn of the twentieth century, even migrant cranes were rare. But in 1992, Sandhill Cranes successfully nested in Iowa again at Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Tama County, according to the Iowa DNR.

Now, the birds are no strangers to INHF areas and have been spotted on various properties, such as Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and Ham Marsh.

Check out these other five facts about Sandhill Cranes: Continue reading

Wildlife Diversity Program

*From the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

ChickadeeCheckAd_3x2.5_ColorIowa Taxpayers Increase Donations to Wildlife in 2013 Tax Year

Last year, more than 8,000 Iowa taxpayers helped boost wildlife conservation with donations to the Fish and Wildlife Fund on their tax form. This marks the fourth straight year donations to the fund have increased, a trend that Stephanie Shepherd, DNR Wildlife Diversity Biologist, hopes to continue in 2014. Continue reading

Iowa Outdoors – Fall 2014

In this episode of Iowa Outdoors, Kellie and Scott take a look back at their previous seasons and highlight some adventurous ways to explore the state of Iowa. They will take you to Lake Rathbun where you can see kiteboarders of Iowa, Winneshiek County where you can explore Coldwater Cave (the longest cave in the upper Midwest), fly over Madison County to catch the bird’s-eye view of a paraglider and get an ariel tour of Iowa’s first full-line zipline course in Dubuque.

Iowa Outdoors is produced in partnership with the Iowa DNR, and is made possible by REAP funds for environmental education.

To find information on how to subscribe to receive the Iowa Outdoors Magazine visit their website or call 1-800-361-8072.


David Zahrt: Climate March


David Zahrt with staff members Lisa Hein, Diane Graves, Anita O’Gara and Cheri Grauer

On August 11, David Zahrt visited the INHF office. David worked here part-time until 2010 doing outreach to encourage land protection in the Loess Hills. David and his siblings together protected their multi-generation family land near Turin through INHF. Now known as Reese Homestead, the homestead is owned by Monona County Conservation Board; the prairie hills around it are owned by the Iowa DNR.

After David worked for INHF, he moved to Nevada. He stopped through Des Moines because he has been on the Climate March since March 1st, 2014. The goal of this walk is to change the heart and mind of Americans, our elected leaders and people across the world by stressing the importance of acting now to address the climate crisis. There are 320 marchers on this walk from 37 states and seven countries; 35 members have pledged to walk full time. The walk started in Los Angeles, and marchers average about 15 miles per day. They hope to reach Washington, D.C. by November 1.

We wish David the best of luck on the rest of his journey! To learn more information about the walk, read blog posts, meet the marchers and more, check out their website.