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More than 950 acres of Iowa land in 14 counties with an estimated value of more than $3.9 million was permanently protected through donations for conservation.
The donors associated with 12 donations of land or land value will be recognized during a ceremony on March 14, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., in the 1st floor rotunda, at the State Capitol, in Des Moines. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is scheduled to attend.
Don Adams and Nan Bonfils donated a portion of the land value of 31 acres of mixed habitat to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. This donation adds onto existing public land at McCoy Wildlife Management Area and Ledges State Park to expand outdoor recreation opportunities along the Des Moines River corridor.
Roger and Anne Beermann donated 3.423 acres of a unique fen near West Union to the Fayette County Conservation Board. "Annie's Fen" is home to one of the largest known populations of the fall blooming perennial, turtlehead. This donation will protect the botanical importance of the property and provide an additional location for the Fayette County Conservation Board to host environmental education programs.
James Doidge donated a portion of the value of 40 acres of woodland west of Dunlap in Harrison County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Mature stands of bur oak, black walnut, bitternut hickory and basswood provide ample wildlife habitat. This donation will provide public access to hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
Keith Emerson and Lisa Kapler-Emerson donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 35 acres of high-quality remnant and reconstructed prairie and woodland near Rockford in Floyd County. Perennial vegetation like cylindrical blazing star, porcupine grass and flowering spurge provide food and habitat for pollinators and other wildlife in the Winnebago River watershed.
Daryl Howell and Gaye Wiekierak donated 200 acres south of Clarion in south central Wright County subject to a life estate to the Iowa DNR. The gently sloping to level, nearly square-shaped tract is currently agricultural land severed by a drainage ditch known as Buck Creek. Access is provided by gravel roads forming the east and south boundaries of the property. Upon termination of the life estate, this property will be restored to tallgrass prairie with nearly 16 wetland sites for valuable diverse wildlife habitats for species like Blanding’s turtle, tiger salamander and upland sandpiper. This donation, named the Howell Tract/Unit of the Big Wall Lake WMA, will provide public access to hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.
Doug and Brenda Hutcheson donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 27 acres of wooded bluffs near Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County. Forever safe from development pressures, the Hart's Bluff easement will expand existing wildlife habitat and preserve sensitive ecological and cultural resources.
The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation conveyed ten properties totaling 1840 acres of land to the State of Iowa at below market value prices. These land projects were located in eight counties and valued around $1.5 million of donated land value.
Rae Jeanne Kilberger donated an 83-acre Bird Preserve to the Linn County Conservation and committed $400,000 to help acquire an additional 57 acres of woodland to the east with ecological and Native American resources throughout the property. The Bird Preserve is a unique area on the SW edge of Cedar Rapids along the Cedar River and Morgan Creek. The multi-phase project will be completed in 2024 with a restored wetland, two parking lot entrances, accessible restrooms, gathering shelter, interpretive signage, picnic shelters, walking trails, seating areas with vistas of the land and native prairie and wetland seeding. Phase 1 of the project with amenities on the original 83 acres was completed in the fall of 2023. Phase 2, with additional amenities on the south entrance to the preserve will be completed in the summer of 2024. This donation will ensure that this special place in the rapidly developing southwest area of Linn County will provide a natural oasis to enjoy outdoor recreation and educational opportunities about Iowa wetlands, prairies, forests and wildlife for years to come.
Janis Leise donated 66 acres near Conrad in Grundy County subject to a reserved life estate to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Her gift will provide INHF with future income to further its mission.
Fred and Carol Lockard donated their 8.14 acre property to Polk County Conservation. They lovely cared for the land for forty-six years, enjoying being surrounded by a wide variety of trees, day-long bird concerts, and daily visits from deer and wild turkey. Their donation with protect and preserve the flora, fauna, and wildlife the couple cherished for generations to come.
The McLaughlin Family donated a portion of the value of an agricultural land easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 107 acres near Cumming in Madison County. Protecting the open space and perennial vegetation within the Badger Creek - North River watershed will benefit water quality and preserve wildlife habitat in one of the fastest growing areas in Iowa.
The Reed-Kessler family, through the Donald L. Reed Trust, donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 15 acres of oak woodland and remnant prairie loess ridge near Turin in Monona County. Species like locoweed, large-flowered beardtongue and the prairie turnip on the property preserves contiguous wildlife habitat within the Loess Hills Bird Conservation Area.