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Partnership promotes Iowa grown natives for wildlife habitat

A partnership unique to Iowa is working to get more Iowa grown native grasses and forbs on the landscape to the benefit of wildlife and pollinators.

Prairie Partners is a partnership between the Iowa Native Seed Growers Association, the Iowa Chapter of Pheasants Forever and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources that was formed 15 years ago to encourage more Iowans to plant Iowa grown native seed for wildlife habitat projects.  

The partnership was designed to give landowners a lot of flexibility for habitat options. The process is pretty simple and the site visit usually only takes a few hours.

Staff with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Private Lands Program will meet with landowners, tour the site and develop a wildlife plan based on the landowner’s objectives. They will also help the landowner apply for funding to pay for the project, help them with site preparation planning and handle all the paperwork.

Landowners working with the Prairie Partners can get projects completed with a 50 percent cost-share on native seeding and the mixes can be developed to fit within each landowner’s budget.

Landowners wanting to install native seeding mixes that benefit monarchs would be eligible for funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that would cover the landowner’s share of the seed. Landowners would be responsible for preparing the site, seeding it and long term maintenance of it.

Peak planting times are May and in the late fall.

“Ideally, planning should start now for fall projects,” said Kelly Smith, coordinator for the Iowa DNR’s Private Lands Program. “Interested landowners should call their private lands staff that will walk them through it and handle much of the work.”

A list of Iowa contacts and other assistance available to landowner in online at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Conservation/Wildlife-Landowner-Assistance

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