Community News: Celebrate Iowa Prairie Heritage Week, September 9-15

Prairie plants at the Voas Nature Area, managed by the Dallas County Conservation Board.

Prairie plants at the Voas Nature Area, managed by the Dallas County Conservation Board.

Plan to celebrate the 2012 Iowa Prairie Heritage Week (IPHW) by visiting a prairie. Governor Branstad has proclaimed the week of September 9 to 15 as Iowa Prairie Heritage Week. Iowa Prairie Network is coordinating IPHW activities by compiling a list of prairie-related activities sponsored by various entities. Most events are free and open to the public.

This year’s drought has had an impact on our prairies. However, most prairie grasses and wildflowers are perennial, returning year after year from a deep and extensive root system. This year many species have bloomed early or are now dormant, but they will return in better years. Some prairie plants continue to be green and are blooming well in spite of the lack of rainfall. September is the time to see the prairie grasses in their glory and a few late season wildflowers. The prairies this September will not look like the prairies seen one year ago, but this will add to the education from attending an activity, whether it is tagging monarchs, observing plants, or just visiting an area with a prairie.

Prairie Events in Central and Eastern Iowa

The Jones County Conservation Board is sponsoring a Sunset Hike at Hamilton and Tapken Prairie Preserve near Onslow on Wednesday, September 12, at 6pm. This diverse prairie was dedicated in May this year. Contact: Jones County Conservation Board, 563-487-3541

The Iowa Native Plant Society and Iowa Prairie Network are sponsoring an event at the Iowa Arboretum near Madrid. Dorothy Baringer, who died in February, will be honored at the prairie reconstruction planted twenty years ago with seed provided from her Wildflowers from Nature’s Way seed business. Dorothy was on the State Preserves Board and witnessed the first signing of a proclamation for IPHW by Governor Branstad, who was also governor at that time twenty-five years ago. Meet at the prairie at the arboretum at 1pm on Saturday, September 15.  Following the prairie visit, Don Farrar, professor emeritus from ISU and co-author of Forest and Shade trees of Iowa, will lead a walk on a woodland trail at the arboretum. Contacts: Deb Lewis, 515-294-9499 and Dianne Blankenship, 712-255-3447

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1990 with a mission to actively protect, restore, reconstruct and manage the diverse native ecosystems of tallgrass prairie, oak savanna, and sedge meadow. These were the native habitats existing on the Refuge’s 5600 acres prior to Euro-American settlement. Visit this refuge at any time to learn about prairie, but right now there is an exhibit of Bill Witt’s photographs of prairie at the Ding Darling Gallery at the Prairie Learning Center there. This can be viewed from 9am – 4pm daily during IPHW and until mid-October. 515-994-3400

Prairie events in Northwest Iowa

Sept. 10 – 10am – 3pm – Open House and Prairie Tours at The Prairie Flower (native plant and seed nursery with 640 acres of native and planted prairie) at 1775 280th St., Spencer (4 1/4 miles west of Fostoria) – Contact: Dwight or Bev Rutter,712-262-5864

Sept. 11 – 1 – 5:30pm – Seed and Feed (Collect prairie seed and be treated to a BBQ.) at 15384 North Ridge Road, Westfield – Contact: Bill or Dotty Zales, 712-568-1006

Sept 11 – 6:30 – 8pm – Monarch Tagging at Sioux City Prairie at west (Talbot Road) entrance, Sioux City – Contact: Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center, 712-258-0838

Sept. 11 – 7 – 8:30pm – Flowers of the Prairie Program at Prairie Heritage Center 4931 Yellow Ave., Peterson – Contact: O’Brien County Conservation, 712-295-7200

Sept. 12 – 7 – 8:15pm – Prairie Walk at Dordt College Prairie (meet in parking lot behind the B.J. Haan Auditorium) on the Dordt College campus, Sioux Center – Contact: Robert DeHaan, 712-722-6220

Sept. 13 – 6:45 – 8pm –  “A Little Reading on the Prairie” (optional: bring favorite prairie readings/writings and something to sit upon) at Sioux City Prairie, east entrance from Briar Cliff University west parking lot, Sioux City (inclement weather location: Assisi Room in the St. Francis Center at Briar Cliff) – Contact: Ryan Allen, 712-279-5211, or Brian Hazlett, 712-279-5495 or 712-279-5537

Sept. 15 – 9am – 5pm – 100th Anniversary of Stone State Park (Celebration organized by Friends of Stone Park includes several prairie activities including a prairie hike at 9:30am.) meet at Stone Lodge at Stone State Park in Sioux City – Contact: Kevin Pape, 712-255-4698

Sept. 15 – 2 – 7pm – Prairie/Savanna Workshop for Landowners at Prairie Resource Center at Brushy Creek State Recreation Area, east of Lehigh  – must preregister – Contact: Webster County Conservation, Karen Hansen, 515-576-4258

This information was submitted to the Council by Dianne Blankenship and compiled by the Iowa Prairie Network, an Iowa Environmental Council member organization.

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