Gift To Iowa's Future Day 2022
Iowans who made gifts of land or land value for conservation over the past three years were honored at the Capitol today during the annual Gift to Iowa's Future Day ceremony. The ceremony was postponed the last two years due to covid precautions, so this year's ceremony included donors from 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa DNR Director Kayla Lyon honored landowners that protected their land through donations of land, bargain sales and conservation easements. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation was fortunate to work with 40 of the donors being recognized to permanently protect their land.
See the full list of 2021 donors here.
Learn more about the landowners that donated to INHF over the last three years below:
2021 donations to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Janey & Thomas Swartz & Ferguson Forest, Inc.
Janey and Thomas Swartz donated a conservation easement on approximately 12 acres of woodland in Marshall County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Situated along the Iowa River near Marshalltown, the property borders previously protected land held by Timberland, Inc., a collective of family members who share a common vision for land protection. Together, these lands form a 500-acre complex of protected land.
Marjorie Andrews Estate
Marjorie Andrews donated 95 acres in Linn County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate. Located along Otter View Road near Cedar Rapids, the property includes agricultural land, woodland and a meadow. Otter Creek, a tributary of the Cedar River, traverses the southeast corner of the property. Permanent protection of this land preserves wildlife habitat, water quality and soil health within the Cedar River watershed.
Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc.
Members of Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc. donated 7.5 acres in Mahaska County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation with reserved life estates. Twenty friends who shared a common vision for land protection and stewardship formed the Pleasant Grove Land Trust, Inc. more than 20 years ago and have collectively protected the 640 acre property. The group previously donated a conservation easement on the land to INHF in 2010, and reserved life estates in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and 2019.
Rex Heer donated a conservation easement on 59 acres of mature oak-hickory woodland in Boone County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Situated near Boone, the property protects important wildlife habitat and water quality of the nearby Des Moines River and expands protected land along the edge of the river valley.
Phil & Sharon Specht
Phil and Sharon Specht donated a portion of the land value on an agricultural land easement on 244 acres in Clayton County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property includes grassland with pockets of prairie and wooded draws, and provides outstanding habitat for grassland birds and other species. Permanent protection ensures the land will be available for continued sustainable and innovative farming practices indefinitely.
Susan & Lawrence Koehrsen
Susan and Lawrence Koehrsen donated 69 acres in Pottawattamie County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Koehrsens had already begun the process of restoring parts of the property east of Avoca to prairie. Once fully restored, it will provide critical pollinator habitat and support a diverse range of species.
Richard Kuehl donated 40 acres in Scott County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land north of Bettendorf includes reconstructed prairie, woodland and a man-made pond. It provides important wildlife habitat for pollinators, birds and small mammals, including otter, muskrats and box turtles.
Charles Furnal donated a portion of the land value on 108 acres in Warren County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land east of Hartford includes prairie grasses and sedges that support and help advance a 700-acre marsh restoration in the floodpool of Lake Red Rock. Once fully restored, it will provide critical waterfowl habitat.
Alec Pendry and Stephen Pendry
Alec Pendry and Stephen Pendry donated a portion of the land value on 29 acres in Warren County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land is critical to waterfowl habitat restoration in the floodpool of Lake Red Rock near Coal Creek Marsh, and the donation of this grassland will help to build on the complex of protected land in the area.
Dale Peterson donated 15 acres in Allamakee County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation subject to a reserved life estate. The upland woodland property contains 650 feet of Waterloo Creek, one of Iowa’s premier coldwater trout streams. Dale has previously protected multiple properties in Linn County through conservation easements with INHF, and the donation of this northeast Iowa land continues a legacy of conservation.
Cindy Hildebrand and Roger Maddux
Cindy Hildebrand and Roger Maddux donated 60 acres in Story County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate. The land, known as Stargrass, is a mix of prairie, wetland and riparian area that has been thoughtfully restored and cared for by Cindy and Roger, and it has been a seed source for other nearby prairie restorations. Protection of this land will benefit wildlife habitat and water quality and preserve valuable natural space in an area that is developing quickly.
2020 donations to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Mike LaMair donated a conservation easement on 474 acres in northeast Clarke County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The farm is comprised of a mix of grassland, working lands and woodland, providing excellent wildlife habitat, open space, scenic beauty and water quality benefits to the nearby creek. The land lies adjacent to and buffers Green Pine Wildlife Area, and is within one mile of Heritage Hills Wildlife Management Area and Vawn Wildlife Area.
Michael & Linda Meetz
Michael and Linda Meetz donated a conservation easement on 36 acres near Ames to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Over the past 20 years, the Meetzs have managed an existing remnant wetland, reconstructed an additional wetland and restored prairie with local-ecotype seed. It is now a model reconstruction that serves as a research site for Iowa State University graduate students, a seed source for other prairie plantings and a youth programming site for Story County Conservation.
MARSHALL & TAMA COUNTIES
Timberland, Inc., a collective of multiple family members who share a common vision for land protection, donated an overlay conservation easement on their two conservation easements in Marshall and Tama Counties to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The family first placed a conservation easement on 409 acres in 1996, and another on 40 adjacent acres in 2017. The latest conservation easement combines the two easements ensuring the property’s 449-acre woodland along the Iowa River will be protected as one tract of land in perpetuity. The family has owned and stewarded the land since the 1850s.
Susan Hamdorf, Lana Sensenig and Paul Smith
Susan Hamdorf, Lana Sensenig and Paul Smith donated a portion of the value of 161 acres along the Little Sioux River in Dickinson County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property encompasses a mix of working lands, oak savanna and woodland river corridor. It is now a part of a complex of 325 acres of protected public and private lands along the river. It is the family’s wish to see the land in public ownership. It is slated to transfer to Dickinson County Conservation.
Noah & Erin Wendt and Thielges Farms, LLC
Noah and Erin Wendt and Thielges Farms, LLC donated a portion of the value of 37 acres in Polk County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property is adjacent to Paul Errington Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Permanent protection of the land will provide a buffer between the marsh and the surrounding agricultural land, and preserve open space in an area facing high development pressure. The Wendt family, which purchased the farm a year prior to selling it to INHF, is partnering with INHF to lease the land, focusing on regenerative farming practices to improve soil health.
Scott & Ruth Doescher
Scott and Ruth Doescher donated a share of ownership on a conservation easement on 45 acres along the West Fork of the Cedar River in Butler County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land is comprised entirely of riparian woodland, and contains numerous oxbows that provide quality habitat for amphibians and reptiles. This includes Wood turtles, a State Endangered Species, and Blanding’s turtles, a State Threatened Species – both known to inhabit this stretch of the river.
Rowland & Barb Hackmann
Rowland and Barb Hackmann donated a portion of the value of 66 acres in Fayette County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property includes remnant sand prairie, woodland and working lands, and is near the Gilbertson Conservation Education Area and within the Turkey River floodplain. The sand prairie provides habitat for ornate box turtles, a State Threatened Species, which historically have been found in the area. It is the couple’s wish that the land be considered as a future public recreation area. The property is slated to transfer to Fayette County Conservation.
Cindy & Kevin Burke
Cindy and Kevin Burke donated 6 acres in Linn County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate. The property includes several buildings, outdoor amenities and heirloom gardens. It is the couple’s wish that INHF explore how the land may be used for public recreation and/or education. The Burkes have protected 163 acres with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, including 80 adjacent acres, which inspired Grant Wood’s “Fall Plowing.” They have also partnered with Linn County Conservation to protect additional lands.
Daryl Howell & Gaye Wiekierak
Daryl Howell and Gaye Wiekierak donated 80 acres in Lucas County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate. The couple purchased the property in 1994, which was pastured at the time. Restoration activities have included inter-seeding and prescribed fire. Protection will ensure habitat for deer, turkey, brown thrashers, bobcats and other edge species, and reduce runoff in an area known for highly erodible soils. It is the couple’s wish that the land serve as a wildlife refuge.
Ann Werner donated 114 acres in Scott County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate. The land is part of Lark Fields, a 237-acre century farm in eastern Iowa that emphasizes conservation and biodiversity. In the past five years, Ann has planted 45 acres of the farm to native habitat. Plantings include a riparian corridor along the creek, and generous prairie strips along hillsides and fence lines. Together, these conservation practices – and others she’s implemented over the years – are reducing soil erosion, improving water quality and providing wildlife habitat. Ann donated the western half of Lark Fields to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, subject to a reserved life estate, in 2019.
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration – Prairiewoods
The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration donated a conservation easement on 48 acres of prairie and woodland at Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center in Linn County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Prairiewoods invites people of all faiths and cultures to explore the intersection of ecology, spirituality and holistic health. Permanent protection of this place ensures vital green space in a quickly developing area of Cedar Rapids.
Tom Jacobson, Cheryl Lyon and Sondra Dyer
PALO ALTO COUNTY
Tom Jacobson, Cheryl Lyon and Sondra Dyer, the children of Robert and Wanda Jacobson, donated 8 acres of woodland near Blue Wing Marsh in Palo Alto County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The protection of this area honors Robert and Wanda’s love for nature and ensures that this place will remain a refuge for wildlife.
Linda Phelps and David Phelps
Linda Phelps and David Phelps, of Kingsley, donated 85 acres of cropland near West Okoboji Lake in Dickinson County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. It was the wish of the late George Phelps, Linda’s husband and David’s father, that the land be protected and restored to wetlands and prairie. The restoration of this land will enhance the adjacent West Okoboji Wetland Complex, which has led to a significant reduction in sediment, phosphorus and nitrates going into the popular lake.
JEFFERSON & WAPELLO COUNTIES
Shirley Brown donated 40 acres of woodland in Jefferson County and 42 acres of woodland in Wapello County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The donations of the two sites preserve spring ephemerals, wildlife habitat and protect water quality on the land that Shirley and her family hold dear.
Bob and Carol Deppe & family
Bob and Carol Deppe and their family donated a significant portion of the land value on 127 acres of grassland north of Ames to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property is adjacent to Story County Conservation’s McFarland Park and along the I-35 corridor. Permanent protection of the land will preserve wildlife habitat, soil health and expand outdoor recreation opportunities in the area. The property is slated to transfer to Story County Conservation.
Jane Nicholas, Christopher Nicholas and Sarah Nicholas
Siblings Jane, Christopher and Sarah Nicholas donated 215 acres known as Hall Farm Prairie in Marshall County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. They, along with their mother, whose family has farmed here since the 1930s, wanted to see the land restored to prairie, wetlands, woodlands and oak savanna. The protection of the area will preserve wildlife habitat and improve water quality in Minerva Creek, which meanders through the property.
Steve and Margaret Hansen
Steve and Margaret Hansen donated a portion of the value of 80 acres in Winnebago County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land is adjacent to Pilot Knob Wildlife Management Area, and will be restored to wetlands and prairie. The restoration will expand wildlife habitat for neotropical migratory birds and waterfowl including trumpeter swans, and provide water quality benefits.
Jon Dusek and Waldo Morris
Jon Dusek and the late Waldo Morris donated 22 acres of rolling woodland in Linn County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The donation protects wildlife habitat, including important year-round habitat for migratory birds, and scenic beauty in a rapidly developing area just outside of Cedar Rapids. Less than ¼ mile from Indian Creek, the Cedar Rapids Greenbelt and the Sac & Fox Trail, it also expands protected green space in the area.
Roslea and Bob Johnson
Roslea and Bob Johnson donated 1.5 acres in Madison County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Roslea and her late husband, Bob, have done extensive protection and restoration on their own land nearby and hope this donation, which is close to Madison County Conservation’s Clanton Creek Wildlife Area, will spur additional land protection and restoration in the area.
2019 donations to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Bruce and Tancy Becker
Bruce and Tancy Becker donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 150 acres of stream corridor, oak woodland and pasture near Sac City where Tancy grew up. Permanent protection of the property will enhance wildlife habitat in the area and provide water quality benefits to the North Raccoon River valley.
Valli Jo Grammer
Valli Jo Grammer donated a portion of the value of 197 acres of bluffland in Allamakee County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land, overlooking the Mississippi River and an unnamed coldwater trout stream, neighbors Lansing Wildlife Management Area, the Great River Road National Scenic Byway and the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Now part of Lansing Wildlife Management Area, it will expand public recreation opportunities and protect wildlife habitat and scenic beauty along the Upper Mississippi River corridor.
Ray and Patti Hamilton
Ray and Patti Hamilton donated a 60-acre conservation easement on Codfish Hollow Hill Prairie east of Maquoketa to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Over the last 35 years, the couple reconnected the property’s twelve remnant hilltop prairies and restored the prairie in-between them with locally-sourced native seed. A blend of remnant and reconstructed prairie now includes more than 100 native species. Ray and Patti previously donated a portion of the value of a 34-acre remnant prairie in Jones County to INHF in 2008, which is now owned and managed by Jones County Conservation Board, and their share of a 29-acre fen in Fayette County to INHF in 2017.
David & Annette (Anne) Hartig
David and Annette Hartig donated an 8-acre conservation easement within Dubuque city limits to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land, comprised of two parcels, encompasses a mix of woodland, grassland and stream corridor along Catfish Creek near Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. For over three decades, the Hartigs have worked to restore and protect natural lands in the area. Theypreviously donated three adjacent conservation easements totaling 120 acres in 1988, 2007 and 2008. Together, they create a large block of protected land in an urban setting and protect a significant stretch of Catfish Creek and its floodplain.
Michelle Meier and Holly Lester
Sisters Michelle Meier and Holly Lester donated a portion of the value of a quarter mile of former railroad corridor near Bouton to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The corridor is part of a planned 9-mile trail between Perry and Woodward that will connect the Raccoon River Valley Trail and the High Trestle Trail, two of Iowa’s largest and most-used trails. Once complete, the connector will link over a hundred miles of multi-use trails in central Iowa. The Dallas County Conservation Board owns and manages the land .
The Okoboji Foundation donated a portion of the value of 20 acres of wetland near the Pearson Lake Art Center and Dickinson County Nature Center in Okoboji to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property offers water quality benefits, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities, and expands protected land in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes. The Dickinson County Conservation Board owns and manages the land .
Pleasant Grove Land Preservation
Members of Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc. donated a portion of their remaining interests in 479 acres of woodland and grassland in Mahaska County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation with reserved life estates. Twenty friends who shared a common vision for land protection and stewardship formed the Pleasant Grove Land Trust, Inc. 20 years ago . The group previously donated a conservation easement on the land to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2010, and reserved life estates in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Sisters of St. Francis
The Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque donated a conservation easement on 68 acres of prairie within Dubuque city limits to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Sisters purchased the land, now known as St. Francis Prairie, when they moved to the area in the late 1800s. Permanent protection of the land aligns with the Sisters’ land ethic, which calls them to “live in right relationship with all creation.” The property is near the Mississippi River, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and Eagle Point Park.
Cerro Gordo County
Union Pacific Railroad donated a portion of the value of 1.8 miles of former railroad corridor in Mason City to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The corridor is scheduled to become part of the city’s High Line Trail, an eight-mile, partially elevated multi-use trail through the heart of the city. The trail is part of a larger regional trails plan that will connect Mason City residents and visitors to areas of interest and activity around the city, as well as nearby parks and natural areas, including Lime Creek Conservation Area and Nature Center.
Seth & Christy Watkins
Seth and Christy Watkins donated a portion of the value of an agricultural land easement (ALE) on their 301-acre cattle farm along the West Nodaway River near Clarinda to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Seth’s family, which includes Iowa 4-H Founder Jessie Field Shambaugh, has farmed the land since 1856. Seth took over management of the family farm in the 1990s and has implemented conservation and animal husbandry practices that reflect the family’s strong beliefs to work with nature, not against it. The ALE protects the Watkins’ grasslands for conservation-minded grazing, water quality and wildlife habitat.