A prairie is a community of grasses, forbs (wildflowers), shrubs, animals, and microorganisms and is an important part of our heritage in the Midwest. It has created the beautiful and productive soils that dominate Iowa. The prairie provides wildlife habitat. You may see signs of badgers, butterflies, bobolinks, red fox, opossums, northern harriers, jackrabbits, raccoons, American toads, leopard frogs, and many nesting birds. Due to their massive root systems, prairies prevent erosion while rebuilding worn out soil. The predominance of perennial plants in the prairie help control weeds. Since less than 0.1% of our prairie heritage remains, it is important to begin restoring and reconstructing prairie where it is appropriate. In Iowa, prairie has been restored and reconstructed in wildlife areas, parks and preserves as well as on private property by enthusiastic landowners. Other examples of prairie restoration in Iowa are the many roadsides that have been planted with native prairie to prevent erosion, reduce the maintenance costs of traditional mowing, and for beautification.
Source: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. “Prairie Management and Restoration in Iowa.” 2013.
To help you in planting prairie, the Warren County Conservation Board (WCCB) has a Truax grass drill available for rent. It is set up to plant native grasses and forbs (wildflowers). The drill has hoppers for fine seeds, fluffy seeds and cover crops such as rye or oats. Cost is $75 for two days. Reservation arrangements can be made with Natural Resources Supervisor Mark Wilson.
Trees provide many benefits such as greater beauty, improved air quality, energy savings, shade, increased wildlife diversity and habitat, reduction in noise, increased property values, and the creation of a better place to live.
The WCCB has a tree planter and planting bars available to loan to private landowners. The planter mounts on a tractor’s three point hitch and allows a large number of trees to be planted efficiently. The planter works well if you have over five hundred trees to plant in an area with a prepared seed bed. A $50 deposit is required. Planting bars work well in sod or with smaller volumes of trees. Reservation arrangements can be made with Natural Resources Supervisor Mark Wilson.
Wildlife Food Plots
Food plots can benefit many types of wildlife. They serve as supplemental or emergency food supplies during extreme cold or snow in winter months, or may help wildlife get ready for winter. You can attract the wildlife you want to see on your land by choosing the food cover they favor as their habitat.
Source: Natural Resources Conservation Service. May 2009. Food Plots for Wildlife. Washington, DC: USDA. (PDF version of document downloaded May 16, 2013).
The WCCB often has corn and sorghum seed available for planting in wildlife food plots. If you want to plant a food plot, call the WCCB at (515) 961-6169 to check on seed availability.