Stephens State Forest
Iowa's State Forests

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


Forestry Services
The Iowa DNR works to help Iowans expand and care for the state's roughly 3 million acres of trees and forests. We use professionally trained foresters and natural resource technicians to provide forestry assistance to private landowners, to sustainably manage our state forests, to operate the State Forest Nursery at costs of production, and to protect, utilize and enhance the state's forest resources for today and tomorrow. Learn more about our forestry services.


Iowa's Major State Forests

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.

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 15,554 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 offers a diversity of habitats and recreational opportunities.

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.


Iowa's 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.


+ Gifford State Forest
+ Backbone State Forest
+ White Pine Hollow State Forest


Special Event Permits

The Iowa DNR is required to authorize a club or individual to hold an organized special event (an organized event, race, exhibition, or demonstration of limited duration which is conducted according to a prearranged schedule and in which general public interest is manifested) within the state if the event is scheduled to be held on public land, ice or water.

At least 30 days before the scheduled date of a special event, an application must be filed with the DNR using the Special Events web-based application found at https://programs.iowadnr.gov/specialevents/.

For more information, contact your local State Forest office.


Forest News
Timber Sales

Iowa State Forests are manged in a sustainable fashion to meet multiple forest management objectives. Timber harvesting is often used as a tool to meet forest management objectives. 

Timber sales have been released for bid or are being proposed, and detailed information can be found at the bottom of this page.

Timber Sales Information


Volunteer Opportunities

Seeking volunteers help to maintain over 50 miles of equestrian trails on three of our largest state forests; Shimek, Stephens and Yellow River.  Maintaining equestrian trails is extremely labor intensive and expensive. Your help is needed to reduce erosion and wash-outs, maintain proper signage, and to keep trails free of downed trees and debris.

Volunteers can donate time, materials and funds to help with trail maintenance and needed repairs.

Each state forest has staff prepared to coordinate volunteer work. To volunteer your time, contact the area forester for the state forest you wish to help. 

Donations

Monetary gifts are used for larger projects such as culverts, rock and other materials needed for trail repairs and improvements.

To donate money for trail maintenance, please complete the donation form, print and mail it along with a check in the amount of your gift to:

Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Attn: Cashier’s Office
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034


Timber Sales

Iowa State Forests are manged in a sustainable fashion to meet multiple forest management objectives. Timber harvesting is often used as a tool to meet forest management objectives. The following timber sales have been released for bid or are being proposed.

Bonded timber buyers must follow Best Management Practices to purchase timber from the State of Iowa. For more information read the Iowa's Best Management Practices Manual.


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