Tour to showcase three unique prairies in Kossuth County

Posted on June 20, 2015 in Press Center



Joe Jayjack, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, or 515-288-0137

Dianne Blankenship, Iowa Prairie Network, or 712-255-344

Tour to showcase three unique prairies in Kossuth County

The public is invited to tour three great examples of Kossuth County prairie with wildlife and plant experts on Saturday, June 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The tour is sponsored by the Iowa Prairie Network, the Iowa Native Plant Society and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. INHF President Joe McGovern will lead the tour.

Historically, 75 to 80 percent of Iowa was covered in prairie, which includes grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, animals and microorganisms. Today, less that 0.1 percent of that native prairie remains.

“Native prairie is increasingly rare in Iowa, and protection of these places is vital to the health of the land, water and wildlife in this state,” McGovern said. “This is a great opportunity to learn about the plants and animals of Iowa’s prairies, as well as the management and restoration practices that keep them healthy.”

Attendees will meet at 10 a.m. at Stinson Prairie State Preserve, a 32-acre prairie located near Algona. Purchased in 1969 by Kossuth County Conservation, it had been used as a hayfield by Stinson families since 1881. In 1971, it was dedicated as a biological state preserve.

Next, the group will visit INHF's Wildin Heritage Prairie, an 80-acre remnant and restored prairie with 16 small prairie potholes. The site was never drained or plowed but has a history of grazing. The hike will be easy, but rubber boots are recommended for those that want to venture into the wet areas.

The group will take a lunch break after the tour of Wildin. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch and something to sit on — a chair or blanket. There will be a restroom provided at Wildin.

The afternoon visit will be to the Bernau Prairie, which is not usually open to the public. In 2010, Bernau was the largest known unprotected native “black soil” prairie left in Iowa. In 2011, it gained permanent protection through INHF conservation easements. It now has two separate owners, Gary Bernau and the Swanson family of Nevada, but it will all continue to be known as Bernau Prairie. The group will spend an extended time at this site.

In the event of bad weather, the field trips will continue. However, if storms are forecast and you are concerned, please contact Dianne Blankenship at 712-255-3447.

Directions to Stinson Prairie: From the intersection of Highway 169 and Highway 18 in Algona, take Highway 18 west for 4.5 miles to 70th Avenue. Turn south (left) and go 2.5 miles to the preserve, which is on the west side of the road. There is a sign.