First Winter Hike
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) provides opportunities for Iowans to get outdoors and experience some of the places its supporters and partners protect.
I was lucky enough to visit Snyder Heritage Farm on Wednesday, Jan. 29 with INHF Land Stewardship Director Ryan Schmidt and Volunteer Coordinator Melanie Schmidt to hike and learn about the farm.
Snyder Heritage Farm sits just north of Des Moines on 154 acres of various native Iowa landscapes. The property is home to a beautiful oak savanna as well as prairie, woodland and wetland ecosystems.
The land was donated to INHF in 1991 by A.C. and Gladys Snyder who entrusted INHF to preserve, protect and take care of their land long-term. It was once farmland, but has since been returned to native Iowa landscape.
We hiked through the oak savanna while wearing our snowshoes and were able to see the beauty of the property. There were several different types of oak trees including white, red and black oaks, as well as shag bark hickory trees, each serving a purpose for the landscape.
Oaks are very hardy against fire, an essential part of Iowa’s seasonal refresh now recreated using prescribed fire, that helps the landscape rid itself of invasive species, renew native plants and reinvigorate soils. Among other benefits, shag hickory can provide homes for bats to nestle under the bark.
During the hike, we would stop and look at tracks or Ryan would tell us about the trees. We were able to see a woodpecker and an eagle flying by. Everything was beautiful and so quiet.
When we stood still with no one talking, it was the type of quiet you hear on a farm at night but softer. The snow padded everything and somehow made the quiet different.
It was an amazing learning experience to be able to see what some of Iowa’s native landscape looks like and fun to learn how to snowshoe.
All are welcome at INHF hikes and volunteer events. Upcoming events include a Winter Workday at Breen Prairie on Feb. 15, and several more events are in the works for the spring. Check out the events page on our website to keep up to date on our upcoming events.