Prairie Bush Clover Lespedeza leptostachya
Federally Threatened as of 1987 State Threatened
Prairie Bush Clover is in the pea family and is also known as Slender-Leaved Bush Clover. The spindly plant with a silver sheen grows 9-18 inches tall. A loosely arranged open spike of pale pink flowers blooms in mid-July for a short time. Its characteristic silvery green seed pods form even from flowers that don’t fully open. Found in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin in dry and tallgrass prairies with damp to well-drained soil, the type of prairieland where prairie bush clover once thrived is the same land that is highly coveted for crop ground. Many surviving populations are clinging to the edges of areas that are too steep for plowing. More than 60 percent of the known populations of prairie bush clover are on private land, where landowners are practicing light grazing, haying or are intentionally preserving a prairie remnant. Dickinson County Conservation Board added 79 acres to the Judd Wildlife Area in 2013 with INHF’s help. This permanently protected a high quality remnant prairie, a tributary of the Little Sioux River and two fens, the rarest type of wetlands found in Iowa. Because the habitats on the property transition from very wet (hydric) to mesic prairie to very dry (xeric), the diversity in both plant and animal species is amazing. Surveys identified the federally threatened prairie bush clover along with three bird species of greatest conservation need, two rare minnows and eleven other plant species of special concern, including the state threatened Desert Biscuitroot. Such rich diversity is worth preserving.
Northern Long-Eared Bat Myotis septentrionalis
Federally Threatened as of 2015
This small and richly furred brown bat is about three inches long with a nine to ten inch wingspan. Its name comes from its ears, which are indeed longer than the ears of other bats in the Myotis genus. This bat’s range extends widely, covering the eastern United States from the Florida panhandle up and extending into Canada’s lower territories. In the summer you can find long-eared bats roosting in colonies or singly under bark or in cavities and crevasses of trees and snags. Winter hibernation happens in caves or mines. The largest threat to these bats comes from a fungal disease known as White Nose Syndrome. Populations in the northeastern United States have seen 99% decimation. While there is currently no official Iowa DNR designation for Northern long-eared bats in Iowa, it is listed in the Iowa Wildlife Action Plan as a species of greatest conservation need, recognizing how critical it is to take action before White Nose arrives. We’ve learned much about bat needs already from the protection of another federally Endangered Species, the Indiana bat. INHF helped protect the Sodalis Nature Preserve in Hannibal, Mo. — a winter hibernaculum for hundreds of thousands of Indiana bats as well as other bat species, including the long-eared. Long-eared and Indiana bats have been found during a recent survey of the 1,000+-acre Heritage Hills in central Iowa, which is in the process of transferring from INHF to the Iowa DNR. “Managing for one bat species is, luckily, managing for the other,” said Ryan Schmidt, INHF land stewardship director.
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