Up in the Blufflands

By Taylor on May 21, 2015 in Blog

Limestone bluffs along the Upper Iowa River in Winneshiek County (Photo by Clint Farlinger)

Limestone bluffs line the Upper Iowa River in Winneshiek County. (Photo by Clint Farlinger)

In passing, the split-level building in Decorah seems nondescript. The only sign indicating INHF’s presence was hurriedly printed and taped to the door. But this minimalism is by design. “We’re just not there all the time,” says INHF Blufflands Director Brian Fankhauser of the new INHF blufflands office. Instead, Fankhauser and his new assistant, Jered Bourquin, are out in the field more often than not.

Bourquin started work as the Blufflands Field Assistant in March, allowing for more stewardship work to be done in the northeast corner of Iowa. “We always want to do more,” Fankhauser said.

Brian-Fankhauser copy

On January 1, Brian Fankhauser became the Blufflands Director.

The temporary position was created to help with Fankhauser’s heaviest time of year – mid-March through November. Bourquin’s duties include overseeing prescribed burns, invasive species control, conservation easement monitoring, baseline reports and working with the blufflands stewardship intern crew this summer.

This leaves Fankhauser more time to focus on the bigger picture of blufflands management projects (including the recent transfer to the DNR of the Paint Creek Valley Addition to Yellow River State Forest).

With the addition of the new position, the new office was a necessity. Because the old office? It was Brian’s house.

“It’s space to operate out of,” Fankhauser says of the new building, which opened in mid-February. A small meeting room provides space for the blufflands staff to meet with landowners or train interns. But they’re mostly out in the field. “Make sure to call before stopping by,” Fankhauser laughingly suggests.

Jered Bourquin began working as the Blufflands Field Assistant on March 16.

Jered Bourquin began working as the Blufflands Field Assistant on March 16.

Bourquin hails from Warren, Illinois, and attended Luther College in Decorah. He majored in biology with an environmental studies minor.

No stranger to the Midwest, the new blufflands assistant has also lived in Rochester, Minnesota, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. But he couldn’t stay away from Iowa. “I love the area, and I love doing this kind of work,” Bourquin said.

He’s most looking forward to meeting new people, getting to know the area better and getting out in the field. “The burns are always a good time.”

In his free time, Bourquin enjoys hunting, fishing, biking, hiking and basically any outdoor activity. As a self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, he also likes to kick back with a good microbrew.

Fankhauser and Bourquin will begin training and supervising the four-person stewardship intern crew that will start in the blufflands at the end of this month.

Contact Blufflands Director Brian Fankhauser at bfankhauser@inhf.org or 563-382-2008.