Landowners recognized at Gift to Iowa's Future Day

By Sarah LeBlanc on April 5, 2017 in Blog


Janet and Dennis Haller receive a certificate from Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, left, and Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp, right, for donating a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on their Winneshiek County farm. 

On Wednesday, April 5, more than two dozen landowners gathered at the Iowa State Capitol to be recognized for their contributions to statewide conservation efforts in 2016. “Gift To Iowa’s Future” day is an annual celebration of private landowners and organizations who made gifts of land, land value or conservation easements for natural resources and recreation opportunities. 2016 gifts totaled more than $10 million and protected over 6,800 acres in 36 counties.

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp and INHF President Joe McGovern all spoke at the ceremony.

"They say that what you do to the land, you do to yourself. In this case, what you do for the land, you also do for yourself," McGovern said. “It is inspiring to see the impact private landowners can have on improving the quality of Iowa's land, water and wildlife each year. Now more than ever, Gift to Iowa's Future Day is a special time to recognize the generous contributions individual Iowans make to conservation."

Thirty-one of the landowners honored at the ceremony worked with INHF to protect and preserve their land. Learn more about the honorees that worked with INHF in 2016: 

Ann and Sigurd Anderson
Ann Anderson is a strong advocate for conservation across Iowa and specifically in the Iowa Great Lakes region. She and her husband, Sig, owned a 163-acre property near the shoreline of West Lake Okoboji. The land, fondly known as Green Pastures Farm, was purchased by Anderson’s mother and father, Ralph and Sylvia Green, in the 1940s and has been in the family ever since. Green Pastures Farm is a very special place to Ann and her family, and protection and stewardship have always been at the core of Ann’s long-term vision for the property. With this in mind, Ann donated a conservation easement on the property to INHF in 2016, forever protecting the 163 acres of Iowa prairie remnants, restored wetlands and lush grasslands and preserving critical habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and many other types of wildlife. 

The Andersons then donated the land to INHF —entrusting its ownership and long-term care to INHF. The easement has been transferred to the Iowa DNR, ensuring that multiple groups will work together to protect the interests of this unique haven.

Kenneth and Shirley Andrews
Kenneth and Shirley Andrews own land adjacent to Wickiup Hill Natural Area in Linn County. In 2005, the couple protected their tree farm with a 35-acre conservation easement held by Linn County Conservation Board. 2016, they donated an easement on an additional 15 acres they own to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to permanently protect the area for its open space, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty, while expanding a growing complex of natural lands.

Ace and Polly Aossey
Ace Aossey, of Cedar Rapids, donated a conservation easement on a portion of natural land he owns near Wickiup Hill Learning Center to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF). All 80 acres of the property are covered with grass, wildflowers and patches of woodland. The area provides excellent wildlife habitat for grassland birds, pollinators, reptiles and mammals large and small.

John and Susan Aschenbrenner
John and Karen Aschenbrenner knew that their land in Clarke County played an important role in protecting the watershed of West Lake, the City of Osceola’s drinking water source. The 208-acre conservation easement donated by the Aschenbrenners to INHF will ensure that the land, and its benefits to regional water quality, will be preserved permanently. 

Cindy and Kevin Burke
Cindy and Kevin Burke, of Central City, donated an 80-acre property Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, reserving a life estate. The Burkes had donated a conservation easement on the property to INHF in late 2015, protecting the land’s woodland, tree plantings and grassland. These donations will help expand conservation protections in an area of Iowa well known for its wildlife diversity and scenic vistas. 

Mike DeCook
This is the second conservation easement that Mike DeCook has donated to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. With the addition of this 70-acre easement, Mike and the larger DeCook family are working together to re-wild the landscape on their lands: removing structures and restoring native oak savanna, prairie remnants and grasslands. 

Bernice DeYoung
The Bernice DeYoung family wished to protect their 185-acres along the North Skunk River so that one day it would be open to the public. Their generous donation of a portion of the property’s value to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will conserve the area, with its old-growth woodlands and excellent wildlife habitat. 

Paul and Margot Eness
Paul and Margot Eness, of Ames, donated a portion of the land value of their 50-acre oak savanna to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The Eness’ donation will conserve the savanna, which is a critically endangered ecosystem. The property will be added to the adjacent Carlson Recreation Area to protect nearly 160 acres of wooded and savanna habitat for wildlife and migrating birds. 

Fair Acres Farm
Charlotte Shivvers, Martha Skillman and the trust of their late sister Marietta Carr, donated a conservation easement on their family farm in Marion County. Their father, L.C. (John) Shivvers, is well known as a pioneer of sustainable agriculture, innovative farming practices and soil conservation. The Shivvers lecture at ISU is named in his memory. The Shivvers sisters wished to place a conservation easement on their land to ensure it would be available for agriculture in the future and to preserve the farm their mother and father dearly loved. 

R. Kim and Marsha Francisco
Kim and Marsha Francisco are long-time advocates for conservation in Iowa, as well as across the country. The couple has dedicated many years to restoring their property to tallgrass prairie. Their conservation easement will protect that work permanently, as well as the land, which lies adjacent to Stephens State Forest in Lucas County. 

G.C. Farms, Inc.
In 2011, G.C. Farms sold 316 acres as part of efforts to expand the nearby Upper Wapsi Wildlife Management Area. In 2016, G.C. Farms offered to donate a 1-acre inholding in the Upper Wapsi WMA to INHF. This made whole the 556-acre natural area, which provides permanent habitat for birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The donated area is now under the ownership and care of the Iowa DNR. 

Helen Gunderson
Helen Gunderson, of Ames, made her first gift to Iowa in 2011, by donating 60 acres, now known as DeElda Heritage Area, to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Five years later, she donated the adjoining 180 acres to INHF with reserved lifetime use. Portions of the 180-acre property is farmed organically and contains 77 acres of pollinator habitat. Helen is very passionate about local foods, encouraging women farmers and non-traditional agriculture. 

Dennis and Janet Haller
Dennis and Janet Haller own and live on 33 acres of land northeast of Decorah. For several years, the Hallers have worked to return 27 acres of their land to woodland, prairie and grassland. They have enjoyed watching their land become more diverse and are particularly proud that the once-eroded gullies are now healed and intact. Dennis and Janet wanted to preserve the integrity of the land by donating a conservation easement to INHF. 

Joel and Maureen Horsley
Joel and Maureen Horsley, of Ruthven, have bought and managed several small natural areas in Palo Alto County to conserve and protect them. The Horsleys bargain sold their 34 acres across the road from Watson Heritage Area to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) in 2016. The permanent preservation of this land will benefit the water quality of the West Fork of Des Moines River, which flows along the property’s southwestern edge. 

Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. 
The communities of Prairie City, Mitchellville, and Monroe along with Jasper and Polk counties partnered with Iowa Interstate Railroad to protect nearly 11 miles of rail corridor for future use as a multiuse trail. Iowa Interstate Railroad generously donated part of the corridor’s value to make its acquisition by the communities possible. Securing the segment created a 16-mile continuous corridor connecting Monroe, Prairie City and Mitchellville and furthered the anticipated goal for the Central Iowa Trail System: linking the metro to Lake Red Rock. 

On the western side of the state, when a 22-acre stretch of railroad corridor was abandoned by Iowa Interstate Railroad, Pottawattamie County Conservation Board agreed to partner on the opportunity. The land is the corridor for the Pedal- Paddle Trail, which will one day be a nearly 21-mile multi-use trail connecting Macedonia, Carson, Oakland, Hancock and Avoca The donation of land value on the part of Iowa Interstate Railroad helped Pottawattamie County Conservation Board take the first step toward making that trail vision a reality. 

Jordan Acres, LLC.
The Baldus family, longtime Story County residents and outdoor enthusiasts, worked closely with the Story County Conservation Board and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to protect their 175-acre property. The South Skunk River flows through the land, meandering through over 50 acres of floodplain oak savanna. The family donated a portion of the land’s value to ensure permanent protection and future public ownership of this special area. 

Gary and Nancy Klingman
Gary and Nancy Klingman, of Strawberry Point, donated 0.15 acres next to a future addition to Clayton County’s Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF). Though small, the property provides crucial flat access to the adjacent natural area, which is steeply ridged. The Klingmans’ donation will play an important part in the care of this special area, which protects nearly half a mile of Hewitt Creek, a cold water trout stream. 

Mace and Kristin Klingman
Mace and Kristin Klingman, of Strawberry Point, donated a half-acre next to a future addition to Clayton County’s Ensign Hollow Wildlife Management Area to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF). The property greatly improves access to the adjacent natural area, which has an extremely steep face. The Klingmans also donated a portion of land value on 3 acres north of the Ensign Hollow Addition. Both donations will play an important part in the preservation of this special area, which protects nearly half a mile of Hewitt Creek, a cold water trout stream. 

Harold and Deanna Krambeer
Harold and Deanna Krambeer, of St. Olaf, own a 31-acre woodland along the Turkey River in central Clayton County. Since buying the property in 1979, the Krambeers have carefully managed the woodland and enjoyed the plants and wildlife the site harbors. Harold and Deanna donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) so they can continue to enjoy their property, while ensuring it is protected beyond their lifetimes. 

Jerry and Jane Kuehn
Gerald (Jerry) Kuehn has been working with INHF and Dallas County Conservation Board for over 30 years to establish and expand Kuehn Conservation Area. This public area is over 600 acres of mainly woodland along the Middle Raccoon River and has significant Native American history. Dallas County Conservation uses this area as its main educational facility. Jerry and Jane generously donated a portion of the value of this most recent addition, which lies at the entrance to the Kuehn area. They envision a day when it’s restored to prairie, to benefit bees and butterflies and enhance the visitor experience at Kuehn. 

Langesen Family
The Langesen family owned 612 acres along the Minnesota/Iowa border, through which stretches over a mile of the Winnebago River. Thanks to a generous bargain sale on the part of the family, the area will be protected and restored to native vegetation -- providing wildlife habitat and significantly benefiting water quality in this portion of the state. 

Loess Hills Sunrise Trophies, Inc.
The Loess Hills Sunrise Trophies, Inc. property is located within the Waubonsie Special Landscape Area of the Loess Hills -- one of 12 priority areas identified by a National Park Service Special Resources Study as important for conserving the unique characteristics of the hills. Loess Hills Sunrise Trophies generously donated a portion of the land’s value so that the 90 acres, with their “peak and saddle” topography and frontage along the Loess Hills National Scenic Byway, could be permanently protected. The land is now owned and managed by the Iowa DNR. 

David and Sheri Neff
Avid conservationists David and Sheri Neff, of Fairfield, gradually restored their 36-acre property just outside of Fairfield back to the land’s original wetlands and grasslands. The Neffs donated the area to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation with the intent that the land would be transferred to the Jefferson County Conservation Board. The Jefferson CCB took over ownership of the property in September 2016. They will open the area to the public and continue to care for the area’s wetland and grassland habitat. 

North Manhattan Beach Company 
A group of five conservation-minded co-owners restored their 7 acres in Dickinson County to native prairie and wetland. In 2016, they donated a conservation easement on the property to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, permanently protecting it. Thanks to their preservation efforts, the land will forever provide refuge for waterfowl and critters along West Okoboji Lake. 

Dale Peterson 
Dale Peterson of Cedar Rapids donated a conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation on 60 acres of natural land near Wickiup Hill Nature Center. When combined with two previous easements, Peterson’s private land protection efforts total more than 183 acres, all of which is now protected in perpetuity as wildlife habitat and scenic open space. 

Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc. 
Pleasant Grove Land Preservation, Inc. was formed about ten years ago by 20 shareholders who shared a common vision of land protection and stewardship. The group previously donated a 479-acre conservation easement to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2010. In 2016, They donated 149 acres to INHF with a reserved life estate. The land will remain as oak and hickory woodland, prairie and grassland to provide wildlife habitat and water quality benefits for years to come. 

Rahn and Dorian Savage 
Rahn and Dorian Savage, of Lynville, helped protect the 99-acre North Skunk River Wildlife Area in Mahaska County in 2013. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation had the opportunity to partner with Rahn and Dorian again in 2016, expanding the original protected area. The Savages’ generous donation of a portion of the land value will protect 40 additional acres of woodland for water quality benefits and wildlife habitat. 

Leo Schlunz 
Leo Schlunz is a long-time conservationist and avid birder who spent much of his career working at Iowa DNR Red Haw State Park in Lucas County. He has owned and managed his land for many years. In 2013 Leo donated a conservation easement on the property and in 2016 donated the property to INHF subject to a reserved life estate, ensuring that the land will be protected and cared for in the long term. 

Dr. Richard Van Deusen and David Hughes 
Dick Van Deusen and David Hughes have both been long-time residents of the Ames area, and purchased this 56-acre natural area in Story County together in the early 1970s. Dick and David decided to donate this land to INHF, reserving lifetime use. In this way, they are making sure the area remains as it is, with 40 acres of beautifully restored prairie and 16 more of riparian and upland woodlands. 

Joshua Ware 
Joshua Ware, of Ottumwa, donated a portion of his 150-acres’ value to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The acres of oak and hickory woodland, next to Davis County’s Soap Creek Wildlife Management Area, are prime habitat for the federally endangered Indiana Bat, as well as birds like the Eastern Whip-poor-will. Ware’s donation 

See the full list of honorees here.