Page 1




Protecting and restoring Iowa’s land, water and wildlife.

Stewarding Iowa’s wild places


Projects of large impact


tewardship: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care. The term applies to all of us. We all share DAV E MACKA MA N in both the privilege of enjoying our natural INHF Board Chair resources and in the responsibility to protect these resources for future generations. Last year, with the support of Iowans all across the state, INHF protected our wild places at a record pace through a combination of several diverse, bite-sized projects mixed with a few colossal endeavors that will impact Iowans from river to river, now and forever. Look inside. Read our annual report (page 24) to gain a sense of the scale and scope of INHF’s work during the past year. Imagine the possibilities of Heritage Hills (Winter ’17) — 1,013 acres of rugged and wooded topography in Madison and northern Clarke counties. INHF secured this land and is working with the Iowa DNR to raise funds for public ownership and enjoyment. Read about Green Pastures in Dickinson County (page 10). Near the shores of West Lake Okoboji, Ann and Sig Anderson placed a conservation easement on 163 acres of pristine prairie remnants, grasslands and restored wetlands donated to INHF. This land held valuable development potential, but the Andersons chose to permanently protect their cherished land in collaboration with INHF and invaluably solidified critical long–term benefit to West Lake Okoboji’s ecosystem. Read about Heritage Valley in Allamakee County (page 14). INHF protected this 1,182-acre tract of land along the Upper Iowa River in northeast Iowa in 2007. INHF is raising funds to permanently protect this land and to continue restoration efforts. Soon people will be able to begin gently experiencing the wonders of this fabulous place, protected forever with your help. To all of you, a heartfelt thank you for your support! Without that, none of this would be possible.

ON THE COVER An American toad inflates its vocal sac to attract female toads during the breeding season. The American toad’s call is a sweet trill lasting several seconds, heard in late April and May. Photo by Diane Lowry


Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Protecting and restoring Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. OFFI CE

505 Fifth Ave., Suite 444 Des Moines, Iowa 50309 515-288-1846 | STAFF

Joe McGovern President Jodi Baker Finance Director Ross Baxter Land Projects Director Andrea Boulton Trails and Greenways Director Jered Bourquin Blufflands Assistant Brian Fankhauser Blufflands Director Cheri Grauer Donor Relations Director Diane Graves Administrative Assistant and Receptionist Erin Griffin Development and Events Specialist Katy Heggen Communications Consultant Lisa Hein Senior Director for Conservation Programs Joe Jayjack Communications Director Heather Jobst Senior Land Conservation Director Melanie Louis Land Stewardship Associate Stacy Nelson Donors Services Manager Anita O’Gara Vice President Andrea Piekarczyk Grants Coordinator Mary Runkel Volunteer Coordinator Tylar Samuels Conservation Easement Specialist Ryan Schmidt Land Stewardship Director Kerri Sorrell Communications Specialist Tim Sproul Loess Hills Land Conservation Consultant Abby Hade Terpstra Development Specialist Erin Van Waus Conservation Easement Director Kari Walker Administration Director


Joe Jayjack Editor/Publisher Kerri Sorrell Art Director Iowa Natural Heritage is published quarterly by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation for its members and friends.

Circulation 10,000 Articles appearing in Iowa Natural Heritage may be reprinted with permission of the publisher.



Introducing: Heritage Valley


10 years ago, INHF purchased a wild 1,200acre tract of land in the heart of northeast Iowa. Today, Heritage Valley is a shining example of what’s next for INHF, from management to community outreach.


Opening Thoughts


Through Your Lens


Field Notes

30 Looking Out for Iowa 31 Get Outdoors


Bringing the monarchs back North America’s monarch population has plunged in the last two decades, creating growing concern for pollinators of all species. INHF recently received two grants to start bringing monarch habitat back to Iowa in hopes of helping the butterflies rebound.





Ann and Sig Anderson knew what their West Lake Okoboji property meant for the surronding ecosystem. Through a donation to INHF, they’re looking out for the wildness of the fastdeveloping area, and for the creatures and humans that call it home.

Conservation easements are a permanent solution for conservation-minded Iowans, allowing private landowners to decide the future of their land. INHF’s seen an uptick in easements over the last few years, and is working closely with landowners to help them acheive their goals.

INHF is celebrating five years of our volunteer program — including the partnerships and personal relationships that have grown over that time. The annual northeast Iowa garlic mustard pull has attracted volunteers from near and far every year, creating lasting memories on the land.

Get a glimpse of every project completed by INHF in 2016, and the impact INHF members made on conservation in Iowa throughout the year.

West Okoboji gets permanent protection

Permanent peace of mind

Creating natural connections

2016 Annual Report

inhf.o r g



“The Amen of nature is always a flower.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes

I remember the first time I spotted a columbine in the wild. I was looking for a respite ­— a bit of wildness in the middle of town — and I found it along a dirt path in a Des Moines woodland. Growing out of a steep hillside, the wildflower was almost at eye-level. I stopped and gave it the well-earned “oohs” and “ahhs” that those first flowers of spring deserve. Members of the Omaha and Ponca tribes used to rub the pulverized seeds of the columbine in their palms as a love potion before shaking hands with a loved one. This was also supposed to make them more persuasive when speaking to a coucil, according to “Wildflowers of Iowa Woodlands” by Sylvan Runkel and Alvin Bull (the late Runkel was the grandfather of INHF Volunteer Coordinator Mary Runkel). Runkel and Bull pointed out that various colors of columbines have been developed to grow in gardens from Aquila canadensis L., the flower’s scientific name. But if the seeds of these tamed varieties are allowed to grow, the descendents will revert back to the wild form, and the horticultural forms will be eliminated from the resulting population. These flowers want to be wild. — JO E JAYJAC K ,

Communications director


Iowa Natural Heritage

S PRIN G 2 0 1 7

The columbine blooms from April to July in Iowa and can be found in a wide variety of conditions including loose soil on cliffs and other steep slopes. Photo by Daniel Ruf inhf.o r g



Reed’s Run Wildlife Area brings enhanced water quality, recreation to Great Lakes Comprised of 43 acres of restored prairie and wetlands, Reed’s Run Wildlife Area lies just off the eastern shore of Big Spirit Lake and along the Dickinson County trail system. The property was bequeathed to the Spirit Lake United Methodist Church. When the congregation’s leaders began to discuss the future of the property, the Spirit Lake Protective Association (SLPA) stepped forward. “One of our key areas is water quality,” said SLPA Vice President Joe Ulman. “This particular piece of property sits at the foot of a watershed that has some pretty profound impacts on the water quality of Big Spirit Lake. And because of its proximity to the trail, there’s also a significant opportunity to enhance recreation in the area.” SLPA approached Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to help purchase the property. The church agreed to sell the property to INHF with the understanding that it would eventually be transferred to the Dickinson County Conservation Board (DCCB) to become a public wildlife area. This summer, INHF will help SLPA complete a fundraising campaign to raise private and public funds to complete the transfer of the land to the DCCB. Donations are being accepted through INHF. “INHF has a long history of helping protect the Iowa Great Lakes,” said INHF Senior Land Conservation Director Heather Jobst. “We look forward to continuing to work with our partners and friends in the area to protect this special part of Iowa.”



Iowa Natural Heritage

S PRIN G 2 0 1 6

Winneshiek County acquires first public site in 25 years Searching for a way to protect their jointly-owned farm, the Neste family found Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Winneshiek County Conservation Board (WCCB) eager to purchase and preserve their 240-acre farm just outside Decorah. The farm is composed of a mix of woodland, stream and tree plantings, and holds a critical segment vital to a future trail connection between the Prairie Farmer Trail, which stretches from Cresco to Calmar, and the Trout Run Trail in Decorah. The portion of the trail featuring Dry Run Creek will be one of the most scenic pieces of the route. “From the very beginning, from the county’s standpoint, it was such a critical part of the trail connection,” said Brian Fankhauser, INHF blufflands director. “Because of the natural beauty of that valley with the woodland, the oak savanna and the stream, we were eager to protect the area for future educational and recreational use.” Acquired in 2012, Neste Valley was transferred from INHF to the WCCB in late 2016, making it WCCB’s first public acquisition in more than 25 years. The majority of the site will eventually be open to the public for recreation and hunting opportunities, and a portion of the land may become the main headquarters and nature center of WCCB. Pheasants Forever, a state REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) grant and private donations helped fund the purchase.

Just outside Decorah, INHF helped Winneshiek County Conservation purchase a 240-acre farm. The site may be the future home of a WCCB nature center and holds a key corridor for the planned Dry Run Trail, a connection between the Praire Farmer Trail and Trout Run Trail. Photo by INHF

Neste Valley Winneshiek County

LAND: 240 acres just outside Decorah SPECIAL FEATURES: Woodland, oak savanna, Dry Run Creek, trail corridor for planned Dry Run Trail, connecting the Prairie Farmer Trail from Calmar to the Trout Run Trail in Decorah PARTNERS: INHF, Winneshiek CCB, Pheasants Forever, Iowa REAP program



E V EN TS J U N E 2 -4

Loess Hills Prairie Seminar Onawa, Monona Co. Join prairie enthusiasts from across the state for three days of hikes, workshops and educational courses on Iowa’s prairie past and present.


G.R.A.S.S. Onawa, Monona Co. A pre-curser to the Loess Hills Prairie Seminar, G.R.A.S.S. (Great Race Against Shrubs and Shade) is Iowa’s largest collaborative conservation volunteer event.


National Trails Day Jester Park, Polk Co. Join INHF, Polk County Conservation and REI for a day of trail maintenance, followed by food, drinks and camping. Family friendly event.

J U LY 8

Archaeology and River Float at Heritage Valley Allamakee Co. Float through Heritage Valley and learn about the area’s cultural history along the route. RSVP required. See for details.

For more information, visit

Private protection buffers Stephens State Forest Spanning over 15,500 acres in Appanoose, Clarke, Davis, Lucas and Monroe counties, Stephens State Forest is an outdoor oasis in south-central Iowa. Now, thanks to a recent conservation easement donated to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation by long-time conservation advocates Kim and Marsha Francisco, an additional 72 acres adjacent to Stephens State Forest will be permanently protected, enhancing wildlife habitat, improving water quality and ensuring open space in the area. “We wanted to donate a conservation easement to protect land that buffers Stephens State Forest, and so that all of the work we have done restoring this overworked farm ground wouldn’t be lost,” said Kim.

Over two dozen Iowa landowners honored at state captial On April 5, Iowa landowners, including those who worked with INHF in 2016, were recognized at the Iowa State Capitol for their contributions to statewide conservation efforts in 2016. “Gift To Iowa’s Future” day is an annual celebration of private landowners and organizations who made gifts of land, land value or conservation easements for natural resources and recreation opportunities. 2016 gifts totaled more than $10 million and protected over 6,800 acres in 36 counties.

Kim and Marsha Francisco have placed a permanent conservation easement on their land bordering Stephens State Forest in Lucas County. The Franciscos have done extensive restoration work on their land, which provides excellent bird habitat for southern Iowa. Photo by INHF

Comprised of reconstructed tallgrass prairie, wetlands and woodland, the land provides excellent habitat for a wide assortment of wildlife, especially birds. This makes the land, which also lies within a statedesignated Bird Conservation Area, all the more important to preserve. “This project is an excellent example of how private landowners are doing their part to help protect water quality, wildlife and habitat permanently,” said Conservation Easement Director Erin Van Waus. “Wildlife doesn’t care if the land is public or private. They’re just thankful it’s there.”

“It is inspiring to see the impact private landowners can have on improving the quality of Iowa’s land, water and wildlife each year.” - JOE McGOVERN, INHF PRESIDENT

inhf.o r g




BIG DIFFERENCE T BY A N DR E A PI E K A R C ZYK Grants coordinator |

INHF recently received grants to establish monarch habitat across the state. INHF worked with the Iowa DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the plantings. Photo by Bruce Morrison


Iowa Natural Heritage

he North American monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration as birds do.

Harnessing air currents, thermals and a whole lot of milkweed power, monarchs travel as far as 3,000 miles to winter in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. There, they enjoy warmer temperatures, maybe a shot of good tequila and the company of several million other monarchs. But the party is shrinking. According to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), over the past 20 years, the monarch population has fallen by over 80 percent, mostly due to loss of critical breeding habitat. Iowa is smack dab in the middle of the breeding range — SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

and also one of the areas with the largest losses of habitat. In the winter of 2013, the realization set in that the monarch population couldn’t rebound without serious help. International conservation organizations and concerned individuals turned their attention to the issue of preserving the monarch and its miraculous migration. In Iowa, the first efforts began with those working on private lands. Doug Helmers is the Iowa Private Lands Coordinator for the Partners with Fish and Wildlife Program. He and Kelly Smith, Private Lands Coordinator for the Iowa DNR, decided to combine their efforts and funds to begin restoring monarch breeding habitat. Their avenue for outreach was the Iowa DNR’s Prairie Partners program, which facilitates prairie plantings on private lands. Helmers and Smith marked out a focus area of about 100 miles on either side of I-35 to begin their work, an area identified by the Monarch Joint Venture as a major migratory

Over the past 20 years, the monarch population has fallen by over 80 percent, mostly due to loss of critical breeding habitat.

Sites planted by INHF with NFWF grant money Sites planted by Iowa DNR through Prairie Partners Public recreational land Major monarch migratory corridor

Together with the Iowa DNR, INHF was able to plant over 100 sites to prairie with the goal of increasing monarch habitat in major butterfly migration routes across the state. After the initial plantings in 2016, INHF has received another grant to continue the program in 2017. Map by INHF

corridor. Helmers and Smith reached out to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to jointly request grant money, focusing on the I-35 corridor, as well as the Loess Hills. The proposal? Create or improve habitat for monarchs and other pollinators in ten 80-acre core sites, as well as 100-125 smaller sites that would make it easier for pollinators to find food or rest while travelling to a larger breeding site. The project was fully funded at $250,000 through a grant from NFWF, funded by the Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS), Monsanto and the USFWS. For those involved, it was thrilling to receive such substantial support. As Helmers observed, the grant has helped Iowa “really get out in front as far as monarch conservation is concerned. Iowa will be key in helping restore the monarch population.” As word about the grant spread, project and partnership opportunities abounded. Bill Johnson, Natural Resource Biologist with the Iowa DNR, oversaw the majority of the plantings on state lands, improving and expanding the large habitat blocks that are the grant’s core sites. Multiple county conservation board projects received funding as well, as

did pollinator gardens in state parks. In total, the grant will fund over 2,100 acres of prairie plantings on over 126 different sites. The most exciting part of the project, from Helmers’ perspective, is the speed of the partnership development. “All facets — landowners, county conservation boards, Iowa DNR, Fish and Wildlife Service — said ‘yes, this is what we need to do.’ There wasn’t a lot of fussing. It was a priority for everyone involved.” The success of the partnerships was undeniable. NFWF, recognizing the strength and commitment of those involved, granted another $150,000 to INHF in 2017. A third application has been submitted to work with partners in Linn, Johnson and Black Hawk counties along the I-380 corridor, including the Monarch Research Project, a nonprofit with the goal of establishing 1,000 acres of monarch habitat in Cedar Rapids, and 10,000 in Linn County. For now, work from INHF’s second grant is just beginning, as the monarchs have begun their long journey back from Mexico. Thanks to the hard work of the Iowa conservation community, they are returning to a home that is a little better than they left it.

IOWA PRAIRIE PARTNER PROGRAM The Iowa Prairie Partner Program is a cooperative effort by the Iowa DNR, Pheasants Forever and the Iowa Native Plant Growers Association. Through the program, landowners can apply for funds to cover 50 percent of seed costs to establish a prairie planting. Currently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners with Fish & Wildlife are providing the other 50 percent: landowners are responsible for only maintenance and prep. Contact your local DNR private lands biologist to learn more.

inhf.o r g




Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Looking out for

OKOBOJI A family’s protection around West Lake Okoboji is one of INHF’s most significant projects yet — and an amazing treasure for all Iowans. BY K AT Y H E GG E N

Communications consultant |


tanding on the shore of West Lake Okoboji looking out over the water, you can still imagine it: the lake as it would have been in 1944. You can practically see the water stretching out before you, vast and uninterrupted but for a few small boats. The shoreline dotted with a sparse collection of cottages. Pastures and fields spanning wide gaps between the trees. This is how Ann Anderson remembers those early days at Green Pastures, her 163 acres located just beyond the trees near Haywards Bay on the northeastern side of the lake. Of course, much has changed since that time. But for Ann and countless other Iowans, the pull of the place remains the same. And now, thanks to Ann and her husband Sigurd’s gift to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, it will be permanently protected. “People need a place to go where they feel restored,” said Ann, a founding INHF board member and long-time INHF advisor. “For me, that place is Green Pastures.”

otherwise highly developed area. “It’s not often that INHF has the opportunity to protect a property like Green Pastures,” said INHF Conservation Easement Director Erin Van Waus. Anderson and Sig wanted the wildlife habitat and scenic nature of Green Pastures protected from mounting development pressure in the area. In 2016, the Andersons donated the property to INHF to be owned and managed forever. They also placed a conservation easement on the land, now held by the Iowa DNR. This double layer of protection provides Ann the confidence that Green Pastures will be wild forever. The property possesses several high quality native prairie remnants. Restored wetlands, grassland and an impressive assortment of perennial native plants can also be found here.

Ann G. and Sigurd Anderson were honored this year at Gift to Iowa’s Future Day, a ceremony recognizing Iowa landowners who gave gifts of land or conservation easements to the state. Ann and Sig originally donated a conservation easement on Green Pastures in Dickinson County before donating the land to INHF for longterm management and ownership. Photo by Kerri Sorrell, INHF

A place on the lake

Green Pastures is located within Okoboji city limits, a mere 250 feet from West Lake Okoboji, one of Iowa’s most popular vacation destinations. Given its prime location, the property offers substantial — and extraordinarily valuable — open space, wildlife habitat and water quality benefits in an inhf.o r g


An expansive view of Green Pastures highlights the significant size of the donation, near the shore of West Okoboji Lake. The farm was donated to INHF by Ann G. and Sigurd Anderson, longtime landowners in the Okoboji area. Ann was a founding INHF board member. Photo by Nathan Houck

Green Pastures Dickinson County

LAND: 163 acres in Dickinson County, 250 feet from West Lake Okoboji SPECIAL FEATURES: Prairie remnants, restored wetlands, restored prairie, supports water quality in West Lake Okoboji PARTNERS: Ann and Sig Anderson, INHF, Iowa DNR


Iowa Natural Heritage

Green Pastures is also ideally situated among a complex of protected public and private land in the area. The property is adjacent to the Center Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA), just one mile from the Jemmerson Slough WMA and Welch Lake WMA. Pikes Point State Park lies a mere 200 feet to the northwest and Kenue Park and Nature Center is just half a mile to the southeast. “Green Pastures offers excellent wildlife habitat for a wide assortment of pollinators, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, as well as significant water quality benefits,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “Its proximity to the lake and other protected lands enhance the beauty, open space and natural habitat of the public lands and waters, making its protection all the more special.”

Greener pastures

Green Pastures was purchased in 1944 by Ann’s parents, Ralph and Sylvia Green. “Daddy bid on a farm across the road, then left on business for several weeks,” recalled Ann. “I don’t think he really expected the offer to be accepted. A week later someone knocked on the door, informing my mother that the farm was theirs.” SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

With no way to reach her husband, Sylvia, who kept a checking account to cover household expenses, wrote the man a check for the down payment. A few days later, he returned with the deed — in her name — in hand. When Ralph was back home, Sylvia shared the news. “Daddy said something along the lines of, ‘Well, let’s walk over and see our farm.’ To which mother responded, ‘Excuse me, Ralph, it’s my farm,’” said Ann, laughing. Over the years, Ralph and Sylvia’s management of the land evolved as their affinity and understanding of it grew. In the early years, the farmland behind the lake home was traditionally rowcropped. During that time, Sylvia worked with the Dickinson County Conservation Department to create a conservation plan — one of the first for a private farm in the area. “My mother was very forward-looking, and I think going through that process made it possible for my parents to see a future for the land beyond cropping,” Ann said. Following Sylvia’s death in 1982, Ralph took the farmland out of production, letting the land return to its natural state. He enrolled the land in the first iteration of the Conservation Reserve Program introduced in the 1985

“This place is a part of me. I am compelled by what’s within to make it better and to protect it for future generations.”




Farm Bill. Later in the ’80s, ten acres of trees were planted, providing additional beauty and wildlife habitat. Wildflower seeds were scattered. Green Pastures as it exists today began to take shape.


On the horizon

When Ann and Sig took over Green Pastures in the mid-‘90s, they picked up where Ralph and Sylvia left off. They began the process of restoring wetlands and prairies and expanding tree plantings on the property, engaging staff at INHF to help them along the way. The work has not come without its challenges, but Ann feels it’s been worthwhile. “I think what moves someone to act comes from somewhere deep within,” Ann said. “We protect what we know to be beautiful and inspiring. This place is a part of me. I am compelled by what’s within to make it better and to protect it for future generations.” It’s a sentiment that Ann shared with her father — more than she realized until she came across a 1988 article in The Okobojian while preparing to finalize the transfer of the land. In it, Ralph expressed his hope that Green Pastures would remain wild and protected from future development. “His only daughter, Ann Anderson, Des Moines, belongs to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation,” wrote the author, going on to quote Ralph, “‘I’m sure that she’ll keep the land this way after me.’” Under INHF’s permanent care, staff will continue to steward the land, building and expanding upon what Ann, Sig, Ralph and Sylvia have already restored. The property is well suited for habitat restoration, and will be open to the public from time to time for education and outreach events, through which Ann hopes to inspire an awe and appreciation for Iowa’s wild places. “You stand on that ridge looking out over the land and it’s compelling,” said Ann. “You can see so far. It’s really quite a sensation.”






Public recreation area Land previously protected by INHF Green Pastures (INHF owned)

ABOVE: INHF-owned Green Pastures is surrounded by other privately and publicly protected land in the Okoboji area, adding to a complex of natural areas protecting the water quality, habitat and scenic beauty of the Iowa Great Lakes region. LEFT: Ralph Green, Ann G. Anderson’s father, explores a former garden on Green Pastures. Map by INHF Photo courtesy of Ann Anderson

inhf.o r g





Protecting a wild and magnificent property in northeast Iowa is pushing INHF into new territory.

BY ABBY H A D E T E R PST R A Development specialist |



olded into the far reaches of northeast Iowa, Heritage Valley lingers in the minds of those who visit. The property is as magnificent as it is vast, as wild as it is richly diverse. Oak-hickory woodlands cloak secluded hills and bluffs. Bony towers of limestone protrude from vibrant goat prairies on sun-soaked slopes. Three miles of the Upper Iowa River determinedly twist through its 1,182 acres. The dramatic shifts in the landscape capture your gaze in every direction. The perpetually moving water and wind clear your mind and sharpen your senses. It’s a soulstirring place. And INHF plans to be its caring steward long into the future. Ten years ago, the plan was different. Ten years ago, Heritage Valley was another traditional — though significant — transaction:


Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7


INHF would purchase the land offered by an estate, seeing this as the last opportunity to keep this beautiful place whole and natural. We would hold the land while a public agency readied itself to be the long-term owner. But things changed. A new approach was necessary. While INHF does have other lands it owns and manages in its portfolio, we’d never dealt with something like this. Heritage Valley is remote. It’s wild.

And it’s expansive. “We asked ourselves, ‘Is it worth preserving and protecting? Can we do it?’ The collective answer from the INHF board and staff was an emphatic ‘Yes’,” said David Mackaman, INHF board chair. And so a new chapter for Heritage Valley — and INHF — began. Over the last decade, INHF has gotten to know Heritage Valley. Volunteers in 2007-2009 conducted species inventories, turning up a meadow jumping mouse, finding creek heelsplitter mussels in the river and glimpsing Cerulean warblers. Luna moths spread their wings here alongside over a thousand other living species of plants and animals. INHF staff and members have reveled in the intricate connections

“Heritage Valley is as wild a place as I’ve ever seen.” - VERN FISH, INHF BOARD MEMBER






Heritage Valley, situation in Allamakee County, was protected by INHF in 2007. Its 1,200 acres are home to thousands of plant and animal species, and have hosted INHF volunteers and admirers alike. Heritage Valley will remain in INHF’s longterm ownership and management, and will be open to public events throughout 2017.

inhf.o r g



Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Heritage Valley is best viewed from the limestone overlooks, which provide sweeping vistas of the Upper Iowa River, river bluffs and valleys below. Photo by Nathan Houck inhf.o r g


“This is the very heart of our work, to enrich lives by connecting people to the land and to nature.” - DAVID MACKAMAN, INHF BOARD CHAIR


of the complex biomes here. We’ve compared the impacts of two floods: one scoured the river bottom cropland, while the next flood hit that same piece of land after restoration efforts, showing slowed water void of significant damage. Over and over again, Heritage Valley reveals to us why protecting and restoring it is the right thing to do. Such uniqueness, such diversity, such beauty and power is a gift worthy to preserve for all the abundant life there. The lessons learned are worthy to share with all Iowans, now and in the future.


Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Ten years later, INHF Blufflands Director Brian Fankhauser says, “Having the opportunity to manage Heritage Valley has been a highlight of my career. Heritage Valley has allowed us to PHOTO: BILL WITT form friendships with neighbors, volunteers and members that we have experienced in few other places. It is a wonderful resource that we, along with our partners, continue to enhance through restoration efforts.” Because of its grand wildness, Heritage Valley will be periodically open to the public, but not in an unlimited way. Part of the majesty of the place is its secluded wildness, something unique to Iowa. “INHF is able to provide something at Heritage Valley that truly complements the other protection that has been done along the Upper Iowa River,” said Joe McGovern, INHF president. “We’ve helped protect a lot of public land, where conservation agencies provide outdoor experiences and recreation opportunities. We’ve established many conservation easements, where private landowners

care for their land. Now, by owning Heritage Valley long-term, we offer a unique opportunity. At Heritage Valley, INHF will be focused on wildness — for nature’s sake — while offering some very intentional public experiences for people to see the property. It’s our intention to continue this sort of management long into the future.” One such intentional public experience is the annual Garlic Mustard pull, held the past five springs. After last year’s pull, longtime INHF member Bill Witt remarked, “Each time I go to Heritage Valley, my spirit soars. I can see, touch, smell the results of INHF’s stewardship: the flourishing hill prairies, young oaks on the valley floor, warblers and woodpeckers, oak-hickory



savanna recovering. All these things — especially that INHF intends to keep Heritage Valley as a crowning example of INHF’s vision and mission — infuses me with renewed gratitude


and hope.” INHF members and the public will get the chance to experience the full wildness of Heritage Valley now and into the future. This year, as INHF raises the remaining funds for the project, we’ll be showcasing Heritage Valley through a series of volunteer, educational and recreational events that highlight the important ecosystems, archaeological and cultural significance and conservation efforts taking place here and throughout the region. Heritage Valley fits neatly into the regional puzzle of conservation in the Upper Iowa River watershed. In David Faldet’s book “Oneota Flow: The Upper Iowa River and Its People,” he writes, “The health of the [Upper

Iowa] river, the Mississippi into which it feeds, and the ocean into which the water runs is best guaranteed by keeping the incredible mosaic of biological communities that feed the river intact and healthy. Taking care of the land and water is a way of taking care of ourselves and, ultimately, of our children’s children.” Heritage Valley complements and enhances what public agencies and private landowners are doing to protect and restore this priority region. “I’ve paddled up and down North and South America and I can tell you that Heritage Valley is as wild a place as I’ve ever seen,” says Vern Fish, INHF board member and retired Black Hawk County Conservation Director. “It’s a world-class float full of inspiring landscapes. The restored and protected natural views are amazing.” These sorts of experiences are what inspired INHF to pursue permanently safeguarding Heritage Valley in the first place. “With the support of fellow Iowans, INHF embarks on the bold mission of preserving and protecting Heritage Valley permanently, for all generations,” says Mackaman. “This is the very heart of our work at INHF, to enrich lives by connecting people to the land and to nature.”


LEFT: Heritage Valley is home to a wide variety of woodland plant species, including hepatica, Virginia waterleaf and false rue anemone. MIDDLE: Throughout the years, INHF has discovered signs of how important Heritage Valley and the surrounding area along the Upper Iowa River were to Native Americans. The abundant resources provided by the Upper Iowa River and its cold water tributaries were a source of life. Colin Betts, a Luther College archaeologist, has done extensive research at Heritage Valley and found that the site was utilized by Native Americans. Heritage Valley is host to an burial mound and many signs of pre-European settlement life. RIGHT: On a beautiful and diverse remnant hill prairie along Ellingson Bridge Drive, seven acres of prairie have been cleared of invasive Eastern Red Cedar encroachment. Portions of the prairie are burned as needed to help control new tree establishment and maintain the health and diversity of the prairie. This location at Heritage Valley hosts a wonderful display of Bird Foot’s violet and Cylindrical blazingstar. The hill prairie also provides ideal habitat for Lark Sparrows which prefer low-growing grassland areas.

Find more photos, a virtual tour, opportunities to visit or volunteer at Heritage Valley and more at You can help

If you would like to help preserve the awe-inspiring wildness of Heritage Valley, please contact Abby Hade Terpstra at 515-288-1846, ext. 15 or donate at With 92% of funds secured for this $4.9 million project, just $400,000 is still needed.

inhf.o r g



PEACE OF MIND BY SARA H L E B LA N C Communiations intern |

Dale Peterson’s property in Linn County is just one of many conservation easement projects that INHF assisted with in 2016 around the Wickiup Hill Natural Area in Cedar Rapids. Conservation easements allow landowners to retain the ownership and use of their land, but place desired restrictions on the land’s current and future use, like development, mining or other practices that might be detrimental to the land’s natural resources. Photo by Erin Van Waus, INHF


Iowa Natural Heritage


owa’s landscape is constantly changing. Though it may not be visible with each passing day, natural forces shape the ground, as rain erodes the land and wind deposits new sediment over hills and plains. Landowners may have little control over how nature shapes the earth, but through conservation easements, they do have a say in any man-made changes.

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Conservation easements offer landowners the opportunity to decide how their land changes over time. These easements permanently protect the property, but otherwise are generally flexible depending on the wishes of the owner. “Conservation easements give people many different options to continue to own the land, pass it on to their children, leave it in their will to a conservation organization or sell it. Whatever future ownership or management looks like, if they put a conservation easement in place, they know the land — its use, habitat and water quality, the scenic beauty — that’s protected,” said Erin Van Waus, INHF conservation easement director.

Since conservation easements are tailored to the landowner and the land, they vary widely depending on the prioritization of different interests, whether its for natural habitat, agriculture or cultural and historical significance. Ace Aossey, who owns land in Linn County near the Wickiup Hill Learning Center, donated his 80-acre easement to protect natural land that provides quality habitat for grassland birds, pollinators, mammals and wildflower species. Preserving this property in its current state stands to improve the water quality of the Cedar River watershed, and create a buffer of protected private land adjacent to the Wickiup Hill Natural Area. Ken and Shirley Andrews also donated a conservation easement near Wickiup Hill to complete protection of their nearly 50-acre tree farm. A previous conservation easement protected much of the tree farm that they’ve cultivated for 40 years. Their conservation easement protects open space and scenic beauty, prohibiting additional buildings on the area while allowing the property to continue to be used as a tree farm. “We wanted to protect the land from being developed and we liked what we heard about INHF and trusted them,” the Andrews said. “We can see in the future the need for open space and habitat for wildlife. People need to have open spaces and areas to recharge.” Contributing to the puzzle of land that surrounds the 750-acre Wickiup Hill area is Dale Peterson, who has donated substantial conservation easements to INHF and the Linn County Conservation Board. INHF now holds the conservation easement on over 180 acres that buffer existing protected land and to preserve open spaces, wildlife habitat and the natural beauty of the area. This property boasts prairie plantings, ponds and woodlands with vegetation that has a positive impact on water quality and wildlife habitat. “The neat thing with these easements is that

it’s protecting perennial habitat,” Van Waus said. “There are roots in the soil all year round, protecting the water quality and providing habitat for many species and pollinators.” Conservation easements aren’t always large. The small, 7-acre North Manhattan Beach property in Dickinson County offers mighty protection to the species that seek shelter near the surrounding lake. By resisting development, the landowners have ensured that the area remains a haven for the birds, amphibians and other wildlife that rely on the land for habitat and protection. In addition to acting as a sanctuary for wildlife, prairie plantings help with the drainage from crop fields that could otherwise flow directly into West Okoboji Lake. “Even in small segments, it’s important to protect prairie and habitat from encroaching threats,” said Melanie Louis, INHF land stewardship associate. “It’s the idea of having a safe space for mammals and amphibians and waterfowl in a heavily developed area.” The decision to donate a conservation easement is one that can benefit both the landowner and their property, not to mention the species that may live within its borders. Protecting land with a conservation easement ensures that the owner’s wishes are fulfilled decades into the future, and that the area’s resources are protected.


CONSERVATION EASEMENT? A conservation easement is a permanent agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation group. When a landowner puts a conservation easement on their land, they retain ownership while voluntarily removing rights that could damage the site’s conservation values, like development or mining. Any land uses specifically prohibited by the conservation easement terms are permanent — no future owner may break the terms of the agreement. Conservation easements are one of the most popular private land protection options. For more about conservation easements and other land protection options, visit

Erin Van Waus (left) and Tylar Samuels make up INHF’s new Conservation Easement department. The department was created in 2016 to serve more landowners hoping to put their land into permanent conservation protection. inhf.o r g


Natural connections BY MA RY RUN KE L Volunteer coordinator |


arol and Lexy Thompson’s affection for the outdoors, like their laughter, is contagious. This mother-daughter duo have attended INHF’s “Into the Wild and Out with the Mustard” event at Heritage Valley since its inception in 2013 — save one year — and have become familiar faces. Carol drives up from Dubuque to stay with her daughter Lexy in Decorah to make a weekend out of it. The INHF volunteer program’s fifth year has me thinking about these events and dreaming about what’s to come. It’s both fun and intimidating for me to watch this program begin to take on a life of its own. The way people like Lexy and Carol are interacting with nature, with each other and with INHF is something I never could have imagined. New friendships have been established, bonds strengthened and new faces now familiar. For Carol and Lexy, connection and adventure in outdoors is nothing new — we’re just glad they choose us to spend their time with. They’ve seen the volunteer program through growing pains and continue to show up, gloves in hand, ready for any challenge. Lexy enjoys seeing new parts of Iowa she doesn’t normally get to see, and Carol says the best part of the event “is getting down on my knees, near a big patch of [the invasive species] garlic mustard and completely obliterating it.”


Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Both Lexy and Carol attend these events as their way of giving back to the land that has given so much to them. “Attending the garlic mustard pull and other events means a lot to me,” Carol says, “It’s my small way of helping and supporting INHF.” But I see their attendance is anything BUT small. They’re changing the landscape; making room for the native wildflowers. They are creating a space of friendship when they show up, and they’re a reminder that we’re all in this together. Perhaps the best part about Carol and Lexy is how grateful they are for each other. “I’m lucky to have a mom with tons of energy and enthusiasm,” Lexy says. “Taking care of our environment is a great way to spend time together.”

For five years, volunteers have made the trek to INHF’s Heritage Valley to participate in an annual garlic mustard removal event. BOTTOM RIGHT: Lexy (middle) and Carol Thompson (left), a mother–daughter duo, have made the event a yearly tradition.

Legislature must make conservation a priority


he 2017 Iowa legislative session ended April 22. It has been called a historic session by some, for many reasons. The reason that stood out to us is the amount of engagement we saw from people like you: people that care about Iowa’s land, water and wildlife and want to make Iowa a better place. For that, I want to thank you. Thank you to everyone who made a trip to talk with your legislators at the Capitol. Thank you to everybody that made a call or sent an email to let your representatives know that you support investment in conservation. And thank you to the legislators in both parties (or no party) that supported our natural resources by championing existing conservation programs and proposing bold, new ideas that can help us achieve our goals. There was more engagement from people that care about conservation this year than we’ve seen in a long time. We need to keep it up. It was a difficult budget year across the board in Iowa given the lower than expected revenues. Even so, it was extremely disappointing that conservation and environmental programs received disproportionately large cuts. The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was completely defunded and nearly dismantled. The Iowa DNR may be forced to start closing state parks. The popular statewide Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program, authorized at $20 million, was cut to $12 million. The State Recreation Trails program was cut by a third to just $1 million, and water trails were completely defunded. And the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund remains empty, seven years after Iowans voted to create it. Why are conservation and quality of life programs the first on the chopping block when there is a budget crisis? We fully understand that there are tough decisions to

make, but using the budget situation to make disproportionate and unnecessary cuts to conservation programs is unacceptable. These programs not only support Iowa’s land, water and wildlife, they are a vital part of Iowa’s economic engine, and they help make Iowa a healthier place to live. Many of these programs help private landowners achieve conservation goals on their own land, which have significant public benefit. Iowa also needs to better support our public conservation partners, like county conservation boards and the DNR, that steward our public lakes, trails, parks and wildlife areas. Debates about our natural resources should be about more than just water quality, though. The diverse coalition of agricultural, conservation, business and sportsmen groups that make up Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy identified almost $700 million in existing unmet conservation needs across our state. The only way we begin to address those needs, which include improving our water quality, is by fully funding the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. There are many farmers and landowners working hard to improve soil health and water quality, creating wildlife habitat and doing their part to make Iowa better. INHF will continue to do our part for conservation, working in collaboration with private landowners, our public partners and our members. We will continue advocating for the voiceless — the land, water, wildlife and future generations. Your passion and dedication to our mission gives us the energy and resources that make that possible. For that, we thank you. Yours in conservation,

IT’S TIME TO FUND THE TRUST Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is part of the Iowa’s Water and Land Legacy (IWILL) coalition. IWILL is bringing Iowans together in support of immediate, permanent, reliable, sustainable funding aimed at improving our water quality, protecting our soil, enhancing our wildlife habitat and increasing outdoor recreation opportunities throughout Iowa. With a 3/8 cent increase in our state’s sales tax, we can provide $150 million to $180 million annually to voluntary conservation programs and outdoor recreation opportunities across the state and help preserve Iowa for future generations. For more information or to sign up in support of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, visit www.IowasWaterAnd

JO E McGOV ERN, President, INHF inhf.o r g






Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7


Iowa land protected in 2016 Your membership and gifts to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation truly do expand land, water and wildlife conservation in Iowa. INHF worked with landowners, members and partners to permanently protect more than 7,300 acres at 65 locations across the state in 2016. A majority of our 2016 land projects are — or will eventually be — lands open to the public where everyone can explore and enjoy their natural features. Those projects are or will be owned and managed by the Iowa DNR or one of Iowa’s 99 county conservation boards. Seventeen projects in 2016 were conservation easements — agreements between landowners and INHF that permanently protect land and its special features — preserving landowner use and ownership. These voluntary agreements are permanent, with INHF visiting the sites annually to ensure compliance with current and future landowners. Eight landowners donated their land to INHF, entrusting us with its long-term care. Five of these donors used the reserved life estate method, in which they retain lifetime use of the land while transferring ownership to INHF. Sites owned by INHF may be shared with the public through work days, tours and other events. Learn more about land protection options at

7,245 acres protected. 66 land projects.

CO N S E RVAT IO N F E AT URE S LE GE ND Woodlands Agricultural land



Conservation Easements Clarke County

208-acre conservation easement at the headwaters of West Lake in Clarke County. The property includes a 23-acre wetland that provides significant water quality benefits to the lake – Osceola’s main drinking water source – and excellent wildlife habitat. Donated by John and Susan Aschenbrenner.

Clayton County

31-acre conservation easement protects woodland along the Turkey River in central Clayton County. The property supports several plant and animal species, including mosses, ferns, land snails and yellow lady slipper orchids. Donated by Harold and Deanna Krambeer.

Dickinson County

163-acre conservation easement protects native prairie remnants, restored wetlands and grasslands on the east shore of West Lake Okoboji. Protects water quality, open space and scenic beauty in the Iowa Great Lakes region. Donated by Ann and Sig Anderson.

Dickinson County

7-acre conservation easement protects open space adjacent to West Lake Okoboji. The property includes reconstructed prairie and a small wetland created for waterfowl. Donated by five conservation-minded coowners.

Linn County

15-acre conservation easement protects wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and open space. The property is located near Wickiup Hill Natural Area and adjacent to another INHF-held conservation easement. Donated by Kenneth and Shirley Andrews.

Linn County

80-acre conservation easement near Wickiup Hill Natural Area. Perennial grass, wildlflowers and woodland cover provide excellent wildlife habitat and enhance water quality in the Cedar River watershed. Donated by Ace and Polly Aossey.

Linn County

60-acre conservation easement protects prairie and wetland reconstruction, grassland and woodland near Wickiup Hill Natural Area and Learning Center near Cedar Rapids. Permanently protects wildlife habitat, open space and scenic beauty. Donated by Dale Peterson.

Linn County




124-acre conservation easement on a fourth-generation family farm owned by Indian Creek Nature Center. The property includes woodland, oak savanna, restored prairie and agricultural fields. The easement protects

open space and allows for the expansion of sustainable agriculture and local foods programs. In partnership with Indian Creek Nature Center.

Lucas County

72-acre conservation easement adjacent to and buffering Stephens State Forest. The easement is located in a Bird Conservation Area and protects reconstructed native prairie, wetlands and bottomland tree species that provide excellent wildlife habitat. Donated by Richard (Kim) and Marsha Francisco.

Marion County

313-acre conservation easement protects agricultural lands and preserves open space in Marion County. Donated by Charlotte Shivvers, Martha Skillman and the late Marietta Carr, the daughters of L.C. (John) and Vera Shivvers, pioneers of sustainable agriculture, innovative farming practices and soil conservation.

Marion & Monroe counties

70-acre conservation easement protects re-wilded landscape that includes a mixture of grassland, restored prairie, riparian and upland woodland and a couple of ponds. The easement protects wildlife habitat, open space and buffers other protected properties. Donated by Mike DeCook.

Poweshiek County

40-acre conservation easement protects oak woodland in the Iowa River valley within the Iowa River Bird Conservation Area. Preserves wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and open space. Donated by Jack Flatt.

Winneshiek County

8-acre conservation easement protects riparian woodland habitat in a Protected Water Area along the Upper Iowa River. Expands and buffers other protected land in the area.

Winneshiek County

34-acre conservation easement on a high ridge between the Upper Iowa River and Canoe Creek northeast of Decorah. Easement protects native woodland and reconstructed prairie, grassland and woodland. Donated by Dennis and Janet Haller.

Winneshiek County

INHF sold 23 acres in Winneshiek County to a private landowner with a conservation easement in place on the property. The conservation easement protects woodland along the Upper Iowa River adjacent to the Upper Iowa River WMA.

Winneshiek County

INHF sold 60.5 acres in Winneshiek County to a private landowner with a conservation easement in place on the property. The conservation easement protects a stretch of the Upper Iowa River between Kendallville and Bluffton, one of the most used parts of the river. inhf.o r g


Conservation Easements (con’t) Marion County, Missouri

185-acre conservation easement in Hannibal, Mo. The preserve features recreational trails and provides important hibernating habitat for an estimated 168,000 federally endangered Indiana bats. In partnership with the City of Hannibal.

on 56 acres in the Squaw Creek valley. The property includes restored prairie, riparian and woodland habitats, which provide important water quality and wildlife habitat benefits.

Public land protection projects Yellow River State Forest Addition

Land donations to INHF Chickasaw County

G.C. Farms donated a 1-acre inholding in the Upper Wapsi WMA. This made whole the 556acre natural area, which provides habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

Green Pastures

Ann and Sig Anderson donated 163 acres of native prairie remnants, restored wetlands and grasslands on the east shore of West Lake Okoboji. Protects water quality, open space and scenic beauty in the Iowa Great Lakes region.

Jefferson County

David and Sheri Neff donated 36 acres of restored wetlands and grassland habitat just outside Fairfield. The property is bisected by Fairfield Loop Trail, a 16-mile trail encircling the city.

Linn County

Cindy and Kevin Burke donated 80 acres of woodland, tree plantings and grassland with a reserved life estate. The property is located in an area with a long history of conservation, wildlife diversity and scenic vistas.

Lucas County

Leo Schlunz donated 95 acres of woodlands, riparian woodlands, reconstructed wetlands and remnant prairie with a reserved life estate. The land provides excellent wildlife habitat for at least 15 Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

Mahaska County

Formed by 20 shareholders who share a common vision for land protection and stewardship, Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc., donated 80 acres with a reserved life estate. The land includes oak and hickory woodland, prairie and grassland that provide wildlife habitat and water quality benefits.

Pocahantas County

Sedan Bottoms WMA Addition

Kuehn Conservation Area Addition

54-acre addition to Kuehn Conservation Area in Dallas County. The area has a rich Native American history, and offers excellent educational and recreation opportunities. (Dallas CCB)

Soap Creek WMA Addition

Wapsi River Greenbelt Addition

Dickinson County

38 acres of unplowed pasture adjacent to the Wapsi River Greenbelt in Bremer County. The region is home to the Iowa’s largest population of Massasauga rattlesnakes, a state endangered species. (Bremer CCB)

Roberts Wildlife Area

110 acres of woodland and grassland in a Bird Conservation Area along the Wapsipinicon River in Buchanan County. Protection increases and connects public land along the river, one of Iowa’s five Protected Water Areas. (Buchanan CCB)

Butler County

36 acres of prairie, pasture and rare remnant wetlands in Butler County. The land provides quality wildlife habitat for migratory birds, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and natural water filtration and groundwater replenishment. (Butler CCB)

Butler County

361 acres in Butler County being restored to include native grasses and wetlands. The property includes upland habitat that benefits wildlife during frequent high water events in the area. (Iowa DNR)

Big Marsh WMA Addition

4 acres of riparian woodland habitat near the West Fork of the Cedar River in Butler County with oxbows throughout. The land is located within another protected property and provides quality habitat for Blandings and Wood turtles. (Iowa DNR)

Story County

Elk Lake Addition

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

96 acres of dense woodland and pasture. Provides important wildlife habitat and buffers other protected properties in Clayton County. (Iowa DNR)

150-acre woodland addition to Soap Creek in Davis County. The forests on the land provide quality breeding-habitat for Indiana Bats, Eastern whip-poor-wills and other wildlife. (Iowa DNR)

Cherokee County

Iowa Natural Heritage

Bloody Run WMA Addition

291 acres of woodland and wetlands located within a Bird Conservation Area in Appanoose County. Expands protected wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities. (Iowa DNR)

Helen Gunderson donated 180 acres of cropland to INHF with a reserved life estate. The donation contains 90 acres of transitioning organic cropland and 77 acres of pollinator habitat. Helen is passionate about local foods, encouraging women farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture. Dick Van Deusen and Dave Hughes, both of the Ames area, donated a reserved life estate


91 acres of woodland, ridges, valleys and open space buffering Yellow River State Forest in Allamakee County. (Owned and managed by Iowa DNR)

Will be restored to prairie to enhance lake restoration efforts. (Iowa DNR)

34 acres of predominantly remnant prairie in Cherokee County. The land is located within the Waterman Prairie Complex, a unique area with a high concentration of remnant prairie. (Owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, managed by Iowa DNR) 58 acres of pasture and cropland with 1,200 feet of shoreline on Elk Lake in Clay County.

40 acres adjoining Christopherson Slough Complex and Superior Marsh in Dickinson County. Protection will create a contiguous block of wildlife habitat. (Iowa DNR)

Diamond Lake WMA Addition

13 acres of prairie and wetland located within Diamond Lake Wildlife Management Area in Dickinson County. The land will expand wildlife habitat. (Dickinson CCB)

Four Mile Lake WMA Addition

138 acres, including 3,400 feet of lake shoreline, adjacent to Four Mile Lake In Dickinson County. Protection preserves water quality and improves habitat. (Iowa DNR)

Reed’s Run WMA

43 acres of restored wetlands and prairie on the east side of Big Spirit Lake along the Dickinson County Trail System. Protection provides important water quality benefits. (Dickinson CCB)

Farragut Trail

4 miles of trail corridor in Fremont County between Farragut and Highway 2 near Shenandoah. The connection will eventually link the two towns with the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, a 63-mile trail that runs from Council Bluffs to Blanchard.

Militia Hollow WMA

90 acres of pristine Loess Hills prairie and Bur oak woodland located within Waubonsie Special Landscape Area and adjacent to Waubonsie State Park in Fremont County. (Iowa DNR)

Greene County

78 acres of riverine habitat in Greene County along the North Raccoon River offering water filtration and flood retention benefits, as well as habitat for reptiles and amphibians. (Iowa DNR)

Boone Forks WMA Addition

187 acres of woodland and cropland adjoining

Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area in Story County. Photo by Nathan Houck

Boone Forks WMA in Hamilton County along the Boone River. (Iowa DNR)

Iowa County

83 acres located within the Iowa River Corridor WMA. The land has been restored to native vegetation and provides quality habitat for grassland birds such as Bobolink, Grasshopper’s Sparrow and Northern Harrier. (Iowa DNR)

Prairie City - Mitchellville Trail

Indian Village State Preserve, a 6-acre parcel featuring archaeological sites dating from 1200-1300. (Iowa DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Virgin Lake WMA Addition

6-acre addition to Virgin Lake located within a Bird Conservation Area in Palo Alto County. Protection ensures the continuation and expansion of grassland cover in the watershed. (Iowa DNR)

129 acres of trail corridor. Extends the existing Jasper County Trail to create a 16.35-mile continuous corridor connecting the communities of Monroe, Prairie City and Mitchellville. (Jasper County and City of Prairie City)

Palo Alto County

Heritage Hills

Palo Alto County

1,021 acres of woodland, savanna, remnant prairie and cropland near the Des Moines metro in Madison and Clarke Counties. Protection will preserve natural land provide significant recreation opportunities. (Iowa DNR)

Mahaska County

34 acres of restored wetland along the West Fork of the Des Moines River in Palo Alto County. Protection will preserve wildlife habitat and water quality improvements. (Iowa DNR) 185 acres including remnant wet meadow, remnant prairie and 1.25 miles of Silver Lake shoreline in Palo Alto County. Protection will expand prairie reconstruction and wetland restoration. (Iowa DNR)

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Addition

185 acres of riparian woodland, upland woodland and cropland in Mahaska County being restored to expand habitat for turkeys, deer, pheasant, waterfowl, fox and birds. (Iowa DNR)

73 acres of predominantly row-crop adjacent to the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt being restored to native vegetation to reduce soil loss and provide upland habitat. (Polk CCB)

Mahaska County

Oakland Trail

40 acres in the North Skunk River floodplain in Mahaska County. The land includes quality riparian woodland that provides habitat for turkeys, deer, waterfowl, reptiles and amphibians. (Iowa DNR)

Northern Oaks Wildlife Area

35 acres of oak woodland and pasture in northern Mitchell County. Protection benefits several species including Northern harrier, Red-headed woodpecker and Tiger salamander. (Mitchell CCB)

Waterman Prairie Addition

153 acres of remnant prairie, sedge meadow and former cropland adjacent to Wittrock

Nearly 22 acres (1.86 miles) in Pottawattamie County identified as a potential segment of the future Pedal-Paddle Trail. The 21-mile multi-use trail could connect Macedonia, Carson, Oakland, Hancock and Avoca and run parallel to the Nishnabotna Water Trail.

Ronald “Dick” Jordan Family Wildlife Area

175 acres along the South Skunk River in Story County that includes woodland, oak savanna and several oxbows ripe with restoration potential. (Story CCB)

Hendrickson Marsh WMA Addition

36-acre addition to Hendrickson Marsh in Story County being restored to native prairie

to benefit water quality, habitat and hunting lands. (Iowa DNR)

Rubio Access Addition

53 acres of wetland along the Skunk River in Washington County. The property lies on a 72-mile water trail from Keokuk to Henry, and benefits water quality, recreation and wildlife habitat. (Iowa DNR)

Carlson Recreation Area Addition

51 acres of oak savanna pasture adjacent to Carlson Recreation Area in Webster County. Permanent protection ensures continued habitat for a variety of wildlife. (Webster CCB)

Winnebago County

92 acres being restored to wetlands as part of a larger restoration of a 130-acre wetland basin in Winnebago County. Once restored, the land will provide excellent migratory bird habitat. (Iowa DNR)

Winnebago County

612 acres along the Minnesota/Iowa border in Winnebago County being restored to native vegetation and wetland basins to benefit water quality, reduce flooding downstream and expand wildlife habitat. (Iowa DNR)

Winnebago County

21-acre addition to the Pilot Knob Waterfowl Production Area in Winnebago County. Ensures continued protection of native vegetation and quality habitat for neotropical migratory birds. (Iowa DNR)

Worth County

158 acres of restored wetland and uplands in the prairie pothole region of north central Iowa. The land provides important wildlife habitat for waterfowl and wetland birds. (Iowa DNR)

Wright County

100 acres of native grasses, wildflowers, riparian woodland and restored oxbow wetlands provide a wildlife corridor along White Fox Creek in Iowa County. The property also provides significant water quality benefits. (Wright CCB) inhf.o r g




AT WORK in 2016

EF F IC IEN CY 96 percent: projects and services

Less than 3 percent: organizational support

Less than 2 percent: fundraising

Together, We Have Greater Impact 10 devoted Iowans donated legacy gifts totaling $116,000. Their vision and commitment will have a lasting impact.

Public conservation agencies provided more than $12 million toward partnership land protection projects.

Landowners generously donated land, conservation easements or land value totaling $8.3 million.

1,225 donors gave nearly $1.4 million to specific land projects and programs they value most.

5,558 members provided $1.1 million in unrestricted core support for our mission. These essential funds make all of our services possible. Many volunteers are part of the INHF action in non-financial ways — donating professional skills, leading nature hikes, organizing partnership projects and speaking out on behalf of Iowa conservation when their voices are needed. Thank you! 28

Iowa Natural Heritage

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

At least 96 percent of your gift directly supports Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation projects and services. INHF is one of the most efficient and mission-focused nonprofits you’ll find anywhere!

In 2016, we made a $25 million impact for Iowa’s land, water and wildlife through INHF!



BOARD OF DIRECTORS Our dedicated board members provide invaluable strategic leadership, approving our projects and ensuring our strong fiscal management.

Joe McGovern President

Jodi Baker

Finance Director

Ross Baxter Land Projects Director

Andrea Boulton

Trails and Greenways Director

Jered Bourquin

Blufflands Assistant

CHAIR David Mackaman Des Moines 1ST VICE CHAIR Susan Shullaw Iowa City 2ND VICE CHAIR Garth Adams Des Moines

Brian Fankhauser Blufflands Director

Cheri Grauer

Donor Relations Director

Diane Graves Administrative Assistant

Erin Griffin

Development and Events Specialist

Abby Hade Terpstra

Development Specialist

SECRETARY Donald Beneke Pocahontas TREASURER Wendy Wiedner West Des Moines PRESIDENT Joe McGovern Des Moines

Katy Heggen

Lisa Hein

Joe Jayjack

Heather Jobst

Melanie Louis

Stacy Nelson

Anita O’Gara Vice President

Andrea Piekarczyk

Mary Runkel

Tylar Samuels

Grants Coordinator

Volunteer Coordinator

Kerri Sorrell

Tim Sproul

Erin Van Waus

Kari Walker

Communications Consultant

Donor Services Manager

Ryan Schmidt

Land Stewardship Director

Senior Director for Conservation Programs

Communications Specialist

INTERNS College student interns work alongside staff, lending their energy, ideas and talents to help bring about real conservation progress for Iowa.

Communications Director

Loess Hills Land Conservation Consultant


Karyl Clarete Winnipeg, MB, Canada Ryan Crum Mt. Horeb, WI James Ostile Decorah, IA Eric Young Lowden, IA STATEWIDE LAND STEWARDSHIP INTERNS

Katelyn Behounek Chelsea, IA

Senior Land Conservation Director

Conservation Easement Director

Land Stewardship Associate

Conservation Easement Specialist

Administration Director

Austin Chipps Ankeny, IA Taylor Didesch Chillicothe, IL Riley Dunn Martensdale, IA Nick Jackosky Lakewood, OH Sean Kenan Grand Junction, IA Michael Parker Dike, IA

Peg Armstrong-Gustafson Waukee Stan Askren Muscatine Woodward G. Brenton Des Moines David Brown Des Moines Cindy Burke Central City Michael Daugherty Cedar Rapids Mike DeCook Lovilia Paul Easter Des Moines Vern Fish Waterloo John Fisher Des Moines John Gray Sioux City Greg Grupp Dakota Dunes, SD Rob Hall Harlan Neil Hamilton Waukee Kirsten Heine Decorah Thomas Hoff Iowa City Robert Jester Des Moines Christopher Lindell Marion Jan Lovell Clear Lake Liz Neumann Des Moines Scott Raecker Des Moines Richard Ramsay Des Moines Carole Reichardt Clive Susan Salterberg Iowa City Travis Young Waterloo

Sara Vettleson-Trutza Spring Grove, MN Abby Walling Iowa City, IA OFFICE INTERNS

Communications Katie Bandurski Madison, WI Sarah LeBlanc Verona, WI

Graphic Design Kelsea Graham Kansas City, MO Trails Jared Morford Ames, IA Grant Writing Jessica Riebkes Clough Cedar Falls, IA

inhf.o r g



LEAVIN G A L EGACY A good cause leads to mad money Long the adventurous type, Phyllis B. discovered a fun way of supporting INHF that provides her some “mad money” in return. Some years ago, Phyllis and her late husband chose to give a special, larger gift to INHF to establish a charitable gift annuity, providing them $700 in annual lifetime income. Charitable gift annuities are larger, lump sum gifts from which donors draw income until their passing. At age 91, Phyllis decided to make a second gift of this kind. Age pays off with gift annuities, and she’s delighted to

know she’ll receive 9% of her $10,000 contribution back, or $900 annually. For Phyllis, though she enjoys looking forward to that extra spending money, it’s really about having made a sound investment “for the good of the cause” — protecting and restoring Iowa’s land, water and wildlife through Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. For information about charitable gift annuities, contact Cheri Grauer at or 515-288-1846.

CO N SERVAT ION TI P What to do when there’s a bat in your house Don’t panic: There are several ways to get it out, and none of them will harm either you or the bat. But the method could depend on the time of year, and with a forecast that changes by the hour, it’s important to think about the weather before letting your furry friend fly outdoors. In late spring or summer, you can likely close the bat in a room and open all the windows to encourage it to fly away. This should happen in about 30 minutes or so, says Marlene Ehresman, executive director of the Iowa Wildlife Center. In the fall or winter months, Ehresman recommends capturing the bat with a container once it lands, and, wearing leather gloves, slide cardboard under the makeshift trap, either releasing the bat outside or poking holes in a lid and transporting it to a place like the Iowa Wildlife Center. If you like bats, but not so much in your home, think about building an outdoor habitat to encourage these nighttime visitors. “Having a bat box outside in a good location can often work really well to keep bats in your area,” Ehresman says. “They typically like it warm and giving them the choice of a couple of bat boxes in a couple locations can be really advantageous.” Bat boxes (shown at right) can be placed in several locations, like under the eaves of your house or in the backyard. If you find a bat in your home, stay calm. By removing it safely and humanely, you are protecting an important member of the ecosystem, and demonstrating your love for our favorite flying mammals.

During spring, it’s common to find bats in older homes or sheds. They’re most likely harmless and easy to set free without hurting the animal. Photo by Lora Conrad (top) and naturalhistoryman via Flickr (bottom)

TRIBUTE GI F TS IN MEMORY OF James Bodensteiner Julie Brenton Natalie and Willam Brenton Lola Brodersen Bruce Campbell Professor Robert W. Embree


Iowa Natural Heritage

Stan Hagberg Lucas Haller John Hesse Thomas J. Koehler Jane Ann LaMair Glenn Leggett Robert Leydens

SPRIN G 2 0 1 7

Marcene Lynch Larry Mills Virginia and Roland Nelson Ernest Ostwinkle Jack W. Perry Dorothy Pollock Kent Sheeley

Alann Skemp Carol Ann Swift Margaret “Peg” Thompson Matthew Vandiver IN HONOR OF Mark Ackelson

Sue Hawn Land Stewardship Interns Roger Natte M. Jolene Runkel Ruth Schmalenberger


Find more Iowa places to explore at

Spring among the trees

BY SA RA H L E B L A N C Communications intern |



stroll through Brenton Arboretum is a lesson in the benefits of conservation. Boasting over 2,200 different trees and 486 shrub species, hybrids and cultivars, the arboretum offers visitors the chance to learn about the natural world around them. The Brenton Arboretum was formed in 1997, and for 20 years has invited people from across Iowa and the country to walk among the trees. Visitors can hike the trails around the arboretum, enjoy a self-led or staff-guided tour, attend one of many educational programs offered or visit the Nature Play Area with the kids. To ensure its lasting impact, Brenton Arboretum donated a 138-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. This easement will permanently protect the land as an arboretum, green space and wildlife habitat and enhance the water quality of the North Raccoon River watershed.

the arboretum will ensure that its work in nurturing tree collections, planting prairie and restoring wetlands will be preserved, as well as protecting the plants and animals that thrive on the property.

Brenton Arboretum in Dallas County provides visitors the perfect escape to browse over 2,200 different trees from around the world. Photo courtesy of Brenton Arboretum


Erin Van Waus, INHF’s conservation easement director, admires the arboretum’s dedication to protecting their natural space from residential and commercial development. “There’s very high development pressure nearby, and the conservation easement guarantees the educational and natural space will remain,” Van Waus said. By restricting development on the land, inhf.o r g





505 5th Ave., Suite 444 Des Moines, IA 50309

In the natural resources world, spring means prescribed burn season. Fires once raged over Iowa’s landscape, refreshing prairie habitats and naturally fighting invasive species. These days, conservation professionals conduct targeted burns on public and private lands to recreate this natural process in hopes of maintaining a prairie’s health and diversity. Here, INHF’s Erin Van Waus burns a hill prairie at Heritage Valley. Photo by Bill Witt

Leave a legacy of clean water, healthy soil and beautiful outdoor places for those who follow. To see how estate giving through INHF can help make your vision for Iowa a reality, contact Cheri Grauer at or 515-288-1846.

Profile for Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Spring 2017  

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation 2017 spring magazine

Spring 2017  

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation 2017 spring magazine

Profile for inhf