Iowa's state forest system consists of 4 major and 6 smaller units totaling 43,917 acres. The Forestry Bureau pursues an active land acquisition program with a goal of consolidating and expanding each of the major units.
State Forests are managed for multiple benefits. The primary emphasis is on demonstrating good woodland management and providing forest products, wildlife habitat and a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Lumber and firewood are sold to the public at some state forests. Contact the area forester at your nearest state forest for more information.
State Forests Brochure
Iowa's Major State Forests:
Yellow River State Forest
Yellow River State Forest is 8,503 acres in size and located in Allamakee County in northeast Iowa. A Department of Corrections facility with a capacity of 80 inmates is located on the Luster Heights Unit of the forest. Inmates from the camp work on the forest and on other projects in surrounding communities. Each year, 150,000 board feet of lumber from the forest is processed through the DNR sawmill for use by DNR and other state agencies.
Shimek State Forest
Shimek State Forest is 9,148 acres in size. It is located in Lee and Van Buren Counties in Southeast Iowa. Shimek State Forest is one of the largest remaining single pieces of contiguous forest in Iowa. Its large unbroken tracts of oak-hickory forest mixed with nearly 1,000 acres of planted pine stands make Shimek a truly unique natural resource.
Stephens State Forest
Stephens State Forest is 15,170 acres in size and covers the largest geographical area of any state forest. The forest is spread out between five counties: Lucas, Clarke, Monroe, Appanoose and Davis. Stephens State Forest is one of the most popular wild turkey hunting areas in the state and was the site of the first successful wild turkey stocking.
Loess Hills State Forest
Loess Hills State Forest is 10,600 acres in size. It is located in Monona and Harrison Counties in west central Iowa. It is the newest state forest. The first land was acquired in 1986. Acquisition plans for the forest will include 20,000 acres. This state forest offers a unique mixture of forests, savannas, and prairies on the steep and fragile Loess soils above the Missouri River.
Minor State Forests:
There are six smaller state forests ranging in size from 34 to 314 acres. These are Backbone State Forest in Delaware County, White Pine Hollow State Forest in Dubuque County, Holst, Barkely, and Pilot Mound State Forests all in Boone County, and Gifford State Forest in Pottawattamie County.