INHF to lead management of prairie preserve in Ames

By Erica Place on August 26, 2022 in Blog

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is now the lead manager of the Richard W. Pohl Memorial Preserve in Iowa. More commonly referred to as “Ames High Prairie,” this 22-acre state preserve harbors a small tallgrass prairie remnant within Ames city limits. Spared from development by popular vote in 1971, the prairie still exists today as an environmental education area and a relic of the vegetation that once dominated Iowa’s landscape.

A designation reserved for our most special places, Iowa’s state preserves are prime examples ofNew England Aster biological, geological, archaeological, historical and scenic areas. Though heavily grazed, the Ames High Prairie was never plowed and is a piece of a dwindling amount of Iowa’s original prairie. A series of onsite inventories have catalogued at least 147 native prairie plants, a level of diversity that ranks it in the top third of state preserves with prairie remnants. However, the adjacent woodland is encroaching and invasive species are starting to take hold. Uncontrolled, they’ll outcompete the prairie dropseed,  asters (Aster novae-angliae, New England aster pictured right), blazing stars and other plants so critically needed by insects and wildlife and now so scarce on our landscape.

While the area will continue to be owned by the Ames School District, INHF will oversee maintenance and restoration efforts. “INHF is excited to carry forward the next phase of stewardship of the preserve,” said Ryan Schmidt, Central Iowa Land Stewardship Director. “We'll continue to learn about the prairie, ask questions and get to know the prairie in a way that gives us the best opportunities to conduct high-quality land stewardship. We hope to continue the long history of invasive species management, prescribed fire and native seed collection with assistance from INHF staff, volunteers and area partners.” INHF will also lead volunteer workdays and hikes in partnership with the Friends of Ames High Prairie.

Join us for our first joint workday on Wednesday, September 21, 5 – 7 p.m. as we hand harvest prairie seed to be used in future restoration. No prior experience is necessary; we’ll show you what to collect. This peaceful and educational activity is a favorite among volunteers and a great way to get to know the prairie. More details and link to RSVP can be found on our Events Page.