Iowa landowners to be honored at Capitol
On Monday, March 5, 46 landowners will be recognized at the Iowa State Capitol for their contributions to conservation efforts in Iowa in 2017. “Gift to Iowa's Future” day is a yearly celebration of private landowners and organizations who made gifts of land, land value or conservation easements for natural resources and recreation opportunities. In 2017, these gifts totaled more than $11 million and protected nearly 5,500 acres of land in 32 counties.
Thirty-seven of the donors being recognized worked with INHF to find the right protection option for their land. Learn more about the honorees that worked with INHF in 2017:
The Taves Family
Delores and Larry Meister and Angie Taves, Delores’ sister-in-law, donated 12 acres on a steep, wooded bluff overlooking the Mississippi River to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land lies adjacent to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway in Allamakee County. It was previously owned by Delores’ parents. The Taves’ property is also adjacent to another property donated to INHF this year. Together, the two properties protect half a mile of critical habitat, open space and scenic beauty along the Mississippi River.
Sylvia B. Tucker
Sylvia Tucker donated a portion of her land’s value to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land includes 39 acres of woodland, ridges and bluffs featuring dramatic views of the Mississippi River. The land lies adjacent to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway in Allamakee County. Sylvia’s land is also adjacent to another property donated to INHF this year. Together, the two properties protect half a mile of critical habitat, open space and scenic beauty along the Mississippi River.
Cathy Irvine has always dreamed of planting a prairie on her 77 acres in Benton County, and wanted to work with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the University of Northern Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center to make it happen. Following Cathy’s donation of the land to INHF, the Tallgrass Prairie Center will begin restoring the land to prairie. The project will be a learning lab for UNI students and staff, and an ongoing educational tool. An INHF-held conservation easement ensures Cathy’s prairie will always be protected.
Dale & Imogene Wieland
Dale and Imogene Wieland donated a portion of the value of 17 acres within Osceola city limits to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land lies between Osceola Elementary School and East Lake Park, Clarke County’s most popular campground. The Wieland’s donation will help the City of Osceola and the Clarke County Conservation Board complete a trail between the school and the park, getting the community’s children outdoors and into nature.
Dr. Albert Kollasch
Dr. Albert “Al” Kollasch, a family practice doctor in Belmond, bequeathed 55 acres of woodland and grassland in Clayton County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Dr. Kollasch was a long-time friend of INHF, a lifelong conservationist and an active community leader. He had a special connection to the property, sharing that he had felt guided to it in order to protect it. The property is located near other INHF-owned land, expanding protected land and wildlife habitat in the area.
Floyd & Sharon Sandford
Floyd and Sharon Sandford purchased 30 acres in Clayton County in 2004 in part to fulfill Floyd’s childhood dream of having a place for wildlife. Floyd is a retired Coe College biology professor. The wooded land sits on a high ridge near a stretch of the Turkey River that includes the 98-mile Turkey River Water Trail, and offers diverse habitat in an area of Clayton County with little permanently protected land. The Sandfords donated a 30-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to ensure the property will always be a place for wildlife.
The Brenton Arboretum was founded in 1997 by Buz Brenton and his family. The land has been in the family since 1853, and features over 2,000 trees and shrubs, as well as perennial flowers, prairie plantings and wetlands. The Brenton Arboretum donated a 139-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to ensure permanent protection of the land and to enhance water quality in the North Raccoon River watershed.
Gerald & Jane Kuehn
Jerry and Jane Kuehn have been working with Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Dallas County Conservation Board (DCCB) for over 30 years to establish and expand Kuehn Conservation Area, a 700+ acre public natural area near Earlham. The mainly wooded land along the Middle Raccoon River is home to several significant Native American sites, and serves as DCCB’s main education area. Jerry and Jane donated a portion of the value on a 5-acre inholding near the entrance to Kuehn Conservation Area to INHF.
Iowa Great Lakes Saddle Club
The Iowa Great Lakes Saddle Club donated 22 acres to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation just south of Little Foote Forest in Dickinson County along the Little Sioux River. The land lies within the Horseshoe Bend Complex, a priority protection area for the Dickinson County Conservation Board (DCCB). The land will eventually transfer to DCCB, permanently protecting its woodland, grasslands and availability for equestrian use.
James & Paulette Lynn
Jim and Paulette Lynn donated a 162-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their farm near Dubuque. The farm includes woodland, grassland and working lands. Several streams and ponds on the property drain north to the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area, where they meet Catfish Creek and the Mississippi River. Permanent protection ensures enduring wildlife habitat, open space and future viability as a mixed-use farm.
Raymond & Patricia Hamilton
Ray Hamilton is an avid prairie enthusiast. Ray and his wife, Patricia, donated their share of 29 acres in Fayette County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land is home to a fen, an extremely rare type of wetland formed by groundwater slowly seeping out of the soil. Fens harbor unique plant communities. This fen is one of two in the state that is home to both Fringed Gentian and Lesser Fringed Gentian.
Donald Mills bequeathed 96 acres of grasslands and woodland in Fremont County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property lies on the front face of the Loess Hills and is within the Bur Oak Ridge Special Landscape Area. Permanent protection of the property ensures native vegetation and wildlife habitat will always remain intact.
Jeffrey & Roxanne Gorsuch
Jeff Gorsuch has been active in the Greene County Pheasants Forever chapter since its founding. This love for Iowa’s outdoors motivated the Gorsuchs to donate a portion of the value of 48 acres in Greene County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation with future transfer to the Iowa DNR. The primarily upland woodland property provides quality habitat for deer, turkeys and migratory birds. It will also help create a 655-acre nature complex along an eight-mile stretch of the North Raccoon River.
Beth Henning and her late husband, Jim, have spent countless hours restoring the remnant prairies, oak savannas and reconstructed prairies on their property near Coon Rapids. The land buffers Whiterock Conservancy. The property provides pristine wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and water quality benefits to the nearby Middle Raccoon River. Beth’s 87-acre conservation easement donation to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation ensures this place will remain wild forever.
Jon Judson & Kay Neumann
21 acres, 39 acres
Jon Judson and Kay Neumann donated conservation easements to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on two properties in Guthrie County, Judson Prairie (21 acres) and Tuel Prairie (39 acres). Judson Prairie is a largely remnant prairie with a wooded stream corridor. Tuel Prairie includes high quality remnant and reconstructed prairie. Both provide quality wildlife habitat supporting many pollinators, insects, birds and mammals, and are excellent native prairie seed sources.
John Edward Lee Weimerskirk
Ed Weimerskirk bequeathed 484 acres, including two miles of cold water trout streams, in Jackson County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The two streams – Mill Creek and Storybrook Hollow Creek – have been called “two of the greatest trout streams in Iowa.” It was Ed’s wish that INHF forever protect the land’s water resources and manage its woodland to advance conservation in Iowa.
Larry & Laura Miller
Larry and Laura Miller donated a 28-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their property within the city limits of Fairfield. The couple lives adjacent to the property and has worked tirelessly to restore its oak savanna, grassland and tree plantings. It provides excellent wildlife habitat and positively impacts water quality in the watershed.
The Koehrsen Family
Larry and Susan Koehrsen, along with their children and spouses Greg and Terri Grupp, Craig Koehersen and Lisa Clarke-Koehrsen donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their 145-acre family farm near Mount Vernon. The property includes mature woodland, thousands of tree plantings, prairie and working lands, providing a variety of wildlife habitat and water quality benefits to the nearby Cedar River. It is near several state parks, preserves and natural areas, and expands protected land in Linn County.
John & Shari Paule
John and Shari Paule set to work restoring and reconstructing the oak savanna, prairie and wetlands shortly after purchasing 93 acres in Madison County. The property now boasts an impressive mix of habitat, including one of the best sedge meadows south of I-80. Ten years later, the Paules donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, permanently protecting the high quality habitat they have worked so hard to restore.
Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc.
Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc., an entity composed of 20 shareholders with a shared vision for land protection and stewardship, donated 73 acres near the North Skunk River with a reserve life estate to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property includes woodland, prairie and grassland, and provides wildlife habitat and water quality benefits. Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc. donated a 479-acre easement on an adjacent property in 2010.
The DeCook Family
Brothers Mike and Dan DeCook and Dan’s wife, Angela, donated a 242-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on part of their land in Marion County. Since 2011, the DeCook Family, which also includes Mike and Dan’s parents, Mark and Kay DeCook, have worked to re-wild their land, restoring its prairie remnants, grasslands and oak savannas. Together, they have permanently protected 2,700 acres in Marion, Monroe and Lucas Counties.
The Oldham Family
Nile and Laura Oldham, Donald and Diana Jacobusse, Ryan Bagley and Shawna Bagley donated a conservation easement on ten acres in Marshall County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The wooded property provides excellent wildlife habitat and water quality benefits to the Iowa River. The land adjoins three permanently protected properties – two of which were also protected with conservation easements donated to INHF this year – creating a complex of near 500 acres of protected wildlife habitat in the area.
Greg Twedt & Zoraida Gutierrez Araya
Greg Twedt and Zoraida Gutierrez Araya, donated a 33-acre conservation easement near Marshalltown to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The wooded land adjoins two permanently protected properties – one which was also protected with a conservation easement donated to INHF this year – creating a complex of nearly 500 acres of protected wildlife habitat in the area.
Timberland, Inc. is comprised of multiple family members who share a common vision for land protection, and have a history with the land dating back to the 1850s. They donated a 409-acre conservation easement in Marshall County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 1996. Twenty years later, the family donated a 40-acre conservation easement on land adjacent to the original donation. The land adjoins two permanently protected properties – one which was also protected with conservation easements donated to INHF this year – creating a complex of nearly 500 acres of permanently protected wildlife habitat along the Iowa River.
Robert Chisman donated a conservation easement on 38 acres of woodland in Monroe County to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The land was previously owned by his grandparents, and Robert had a strong desire to see the beloved land permanently protected. The property contains a mature oak-hickory woodland, perennial grasses, wildflowers a stream and pond providing excellent wildlife habitat.
Ruth Rose & Luis Lebredo
Ruth Rose and Luis Lebredo donated a 59-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their land adjacent to Stone State Park and Mt. Talbot State Preserve in Plymouth County. The property features pockets of remnant prairie, cool-season grasslands and oak woodland, providing excellent habitat, expanding and buffering other protected lands in the area.
Pocahontas County, the City of Laurens and Union Pacific Railroad partnered together to protect 26 acres of discontinued railroad corridor in Pocahontas County for future use as a multiuse trail. Union Pacific Railroad donated a portion of the land value to make the acquisition possible. The approximately 2-mile stretch will connect to the existing 0.8-mile trail located southeast of Laurens. Both the planned and existing facilities, together known as the Prairie Park Trail, are part of the larger Pocahontas County Trails Plan which seeks to connect the existing 40-mile Three Rivers Trail in eastern Pocahontas County.
Susan Ballard donated a 2-acre addition to Jester Park, a 1,000+ acre natural and outdoor recreation area along Saylorville Lake in Polk County, to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The donation ensures the property’s oak woodland – and the buffer it provides to the park – will always be protected in an area facing increasing development pressure. It will eventually transfer to the Polk County Conservation Board and become part of Jester Park.
.5 acres, 1 acre
Connor Delaney donated two parcels of land totaling approximately 1.5 acres to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Both lie along Yeader Creek, which drains into nearby Easter Lake in Des Moines and is currently undergoing restoration. Connor previously worked with INHF to protect approximately 7 adjacent acres, allowing for placement of structures to slow sedimentation entering the lake. His most recent donations expand green space and support restoration in the popular public area.
Availa Bank donated 2 acres in Council Bluffs along the Valley View Trail to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Valley View Trail connects with the Wabash Trace Nature Trail, a 63-mile rail trail stretching from Council Bluffs to Blanchard. The property offers multiple restoration opportunities that will increase habitat and enhance the experience for trail users.
The Woodbury II, LLC
The Woodbury II, LLC donated a 5-acre addition to Vincent Bluff State Preserve, a highly visible 35-acre remnant prairie bluff overlooking Council Bluffs to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The property includes grasslands and a small patch of trees, and will increase outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat and native prairie restoration opportunities in the area. It will be owned by the City of Council Bluffs and managed by the Loess Hills Preservation Society.
The Knolls, L.C.
The Knolls, L.C. donated 22 acres within Grinnell city limits to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The donation will enable INHF and the City of Grinnell to establish wetlands, prairies and a recreation trail to benefit water quality, create pollinator habitat and increase outdoor recreation opportunities in the area. It will eventually be owned by the City of Grinnell.
John K. Clarke
John Clarke donated a portion of the value of 38 acres of wetland, woodland and working lands along the Mississippi River to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. John’s donation bridges and buffers land owned by the Nahant Marsh Education Center, an extremely popular 256-acre outdoor education facility in southwest Davenport featuring one of the last wetland complexes of its size along the Upper Mississippi River. Protection and restoration will benefit the water, wildlife and community. The property will eventually transfer to Nahant Marsh.
Gateway Hotel & Conference Center and Friends of ISU Hotel Holdings
2.5 acres, 5 acres
Friends of ISU Hotel Holdings and Gateway Hotel & Conference Center donated approximately 7.5 acres near the Gateway Hotel in Ames to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. This permanently protects Gateway Green Hills Park for public use and enjoyment. Ongoing improvements have been made to the land over the years, creating walking paths, benches and open lawn areas enjoyed by area residents, residents of a nearby senior housing complex and hotel visitors. The park is managed by and will eventually transfer to the Gateway Green Hills Park Association. INHF will hold a conservation easement on the land.
Susan & Robert Fleming, III
Rob and Susan Fleming’s family farm has a long history rooted in conservation and community. It boasts a diverse mix of native and restored habitat, a public bike trail and local foods. The 117-acre conservation easement donated to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation ensures Danamere Farms and the scenic beauty, open space and habitat it provides will always be protected.
The Hendricks Family
Brothers Ace and Jeff Hendricks, along with their wives Judy and Shelley Hendricks, donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their 111-acre century farm north of Decorah. The farm, which is located near the Upper Iowa River, has been in the family since 1871. Limited, sustainable agriculture, water quality and diversity are the brothers’ goals for the property. They wished to permanently protect the property from mounting development pressure while still enjoying farming, stewarding and hunting on their family land.
The Jewell Family
Bobby and Paula Jewell and their eldest son, Robby, donated a portion of the value of an agricultural land easement (ALE) on their family’s century farm near Decorah to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. At 696 acres, it is the first ALE in Iowa, blending the family’s desire to permanently protect the land for conservation while remaining a sustainable farm operation. The farm features a diverse mix of working lands, woodland and water features, including a small stretch of Ten Mile Creek and three springs. The easement will help promote water quality on the adjacent Upper Iowa River. The farm has been in the family since 1876.