Explore Iowa: Whitham Woods
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation was in its infancy when Daisy Iowa Whitham approached the organization. She wanted to protect the natural beauty of her family’s 130-acre woodland and nursery in Jefferson County, so in 1980, she asked INHF to be her "eyes into the future" – and donated the property to INHF to be used as a plant and wildlife refuge. Whitham Woods became INHF’s first completed project.
Created in 1889, the Whitham Fairfield Nursery includes more than 111 different species, including oak, hickory, conifers, and fruit trees such as apple, peach, pear and plum. Many of the original trees have matured and created an interesting and diverse habitat area. The land hosts deer, squirrels, rabbits and songbirds. Whitham Woods also sports a four-acre prairie plot seeded with Big Blue Stem, Little Blue Stem, Indian Grass, Side Oats Grama, Switch Grass and various native forbs.
INHF arranged a 99-year management lease with the Jefferson County Conservation Board, which now oversees the woodland. The CCB created a parking lot for visitors just off of Highway 34, about a mile west of Fairfield, to enable full enjoyment of the site.
Whitham Woods now boasts trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, plus access for fishing, photography and general nature appreciation. The Fairfield Loop Trail is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2010, and will include a portion that runs through Whitham Woods. For more information on the Fairfield Loop Trail and others in the area, visit Jefferson County Trails.
INHF Project Partners
The Jefferson County Conservation Board owns and manages Whitham Woods. Since its inception in 1972, the Jefferson CCB has worked toward a mission to enhance the quality of life in Jefferson County by acquiring, developing and managing public areas so that its citizens will have opportunities for quality outdoor recreation experiences, and to cultivate good land stewardship through natural history and environmental education activities. For more information on the Jefferson CCB and Whitham Woods, visit the CCB’s website.
Whitham Woods is located about 1 mile west of Fairfield on Highway 34.