Folded into the far reaches of Northeast Iowa, Heritage Valley lingers in the minds of those who visit. The property is as magnificent as it is vast, as wild as it is richly diverse. Oak-hickory woodlands cloak secluded hills and bluffs. Bony towers of limestone protrude from vibrant goat prairies on sun-soaked slopes. Three miles of the Upper Iowa River determinedly twists through its 1,182 acres.
When Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation purchased Heritage Valley in 2007, we didn't anticipate how large of an impact this place would have on us and the work we do. After years of management and conversations, INHF will own Heritage Valley long-term, caring for its unique beauty and health forever. It's a challenge we're excited to take on.
“Each time I go to Heritage Valley, my spirit soars," says Bill Witt, a longtime INHF volunteer. "I can see, touch, smell the results of INHF's stewardship: the flourishing hill prairies, young oaks on the valley floor, warblers and woodpeckers, oak-hickory savanna recovering. All these things — especially that INHF intends to keep Heritage Valley as a crowning example of INHF's vision and mission — infuses me with renewed gratitude and hope.”
INHF hopes to bring those feelings of awe and discovery to other Iowans, while protecting the diverse landscapes and creatures that call Heritage Valley home.
“We've helped protect a lot of public land, where conservation agencies provide outdoor experiences and recreation opportunities," says Joe McGovern, INHF president. "We've established many conservation easements, where private landowners care for land that has no public access. Now, by owning Heritage Valley, we offer a 'middle ground' — not exclusively for wildlife or private use, not primarily for people, but focused on wildness while offering some very intentional public experiences of nature that you might not find on public land."
INHF hopes to care for that intentionality and the wildness of Heritage Valley into the future. Heritage Valley is a $4.9 million project that is 92% of the way funded. INHF's goal in 2017 is to raise the $400,000 remainder. If you would like to help INHF preserve the awe-inspiring wildness of Heritage Valley, please donate today.