Wendel Family donates more than 100 acres of Loess Hills Prairie to INHF

By Joe Jayjack on October 18, 2022 in Press Center

Joe Jayjack, INHF Communications Director
jjayjack@inhf.org, 515-288-1846, ext. 19

Wendel Family

The Wendel family on the remnant prairie donated to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Left to right, Sandra Wendel, son Jackson Wendel, daughter Alyson and her husband Ben Fackler, Scott Wendel. Front row, grandchildren Mila and Max Fackler. 

SIOUX CITY – The Wendel family has donated 113 acres of Loess Hills prairie in Bronson, east of Sergeant Bluff, to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, ensuring that this ecologically rich area is forever protected from the development pressures of the nearby Sioux City Metro area. 

INHF is a private nonprofit conservation group that works to protect and restore Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. In addition to protecting this portion of remnant prairie, wildflower and grass seeds from the Wendel property will also be used in prairie restoration projects throughout the region.

“Families like the Wendels, that are thinking about what this property will be in 50 or 100 years, are the people that make the work on INHF possible,” said INHF President Joe McGovern. “Conservation in Iowa happens when people care about the next generation of people, plants and animals.”

This property is distinguished not only for its location in the Loess Hills — a geologic feature of this size found only along a 200-mile stretch of the Missouri River in Iowa and along the Yellow River in China — but also for its biological diversity and the unique east-west orientation of its hills and the spectacular vistas.

The gift property lies off Highway 141 along Whiskey Creek near Bronson and spans east for a mile to Carroll Avenue along the front range of the Loess Hills. Recently the Wendel corn crib, built in 1959, a landmark along Highway 141, blew down in last December’s storm.

“This property will be a great stewardship asset for a seed source, as well as housing a diverse biological community for all of our critters,” INHF Loess Hills Land Stewardship Director Kody Wohlers said.

More than 50 species of prairie plants have been identified on the property—some quite rare because this remnant prairie has never been tilled—a number that is expected to increase after management efforts like prescribed fire. Wohlers also plans to hold volunteer and educational events on the property. 

Scott WendelThe land is part of a Century Farm that has been in the Wendel family since 1912. It will be known as the Wendel Prairie Preserve.

Scott Wendel, now of Omaha, said his grandfather, Vern, bought the property that once spanned over 2,000 acres, where with his father, Al, farmed and raised cattle and hogs.

“I grew up in these hills, herding cattle on horseback. Those memories are what life is about, and our family is honored to preserve this precious footprint forever through the Foundation,” said Scott Wendel.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and public partners to protect and restore Iowa's land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 185,000 acres of Iowa's natural resources.