Waterman Creek, O'Brien County

Waterman Creek, O'Brien County

Bruce Morrison

Land, Water & Wildlife Protection

“Protect.” It’s right there in the mission statement. It’s what INHF was created to do — to ensure Iowa’s most important natural treasures for years and generations to come. Protecting natural areas for the animals and plants that call Iowa home, for the health of our water and soil and for the enjoyment of those who keep nature close to their hearts. We take that responsibility seriously.

Since 1979, INHF, its supporters and partners have protected more than 1,300 sites in 96 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Totaling over 190,000 acres, the land we work to save is vital to protecting Iowa’s land, water and wildlife, and often becomes county and state parks, public wildlife areas and popular trails.

Support current INHF protection projects

Want to help save a wild place in Iowa? We're constantly working to protect places that are vital to Iowa's natural resources. Find a protection project that needs your support.

Protect your land

Hundreds of landowners have protected the land they love through Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Learn how INHF can help you find the best option for you.

More about INHF’s protection work

Public land

Many projects that INHF works on eventually become areas that are open to the public and managed by public agencies. INHF works closely with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and county conservation boards to identify priority land that has significant natural resource value and is right for protection. These properties often border existing public land, like state parks or wildlife management areas. Because the gears of government move slowly, these entities often rely on INHF to buy and hold land until they are able to raise funds to purchase it. Private landowners also turn to INHF if they’d like their land to become a local wildlife area or park. See a map of INHF’s public projects.

Showcase public projects

High Trestle Trail
Heritage Addition to Effigy Mounds
Iowa River Greenbelt

Private protection

98 percent of Iowa’s land is in private ownership. Because of this, INHF has worked with hundreds of private landowners to place conservation protections on their land. INHF holds over 200 conservation easements throughout the state, monitoring protected properties annually. Learn more about private land protection. 

Multi-use Trails

INHF has been a leader in establishing trails in Iowa since 1980. INHF's role on a given trail can range from minor — providing technical advice — to extensive — acquiring the trail corridor, marketing and promotion, education and/or fundraising. To date, INHF has helped create over 65 percent of Iowa’s rail trails. Learn more about INHF’s work with trails.

INHF-owned land

INHF owns some properties long term. Most were entrusted to INHF’s care when the previous owner donated or bequeathed them to INHF. Others were purchased to nurture and protect native landscapes.

Protection priorities

INHF protects land all over the state, encompassing many types of habitat and natural resources. There are areas and habitats on which we place special priority, because of their importance for wildlife and people as well as their prominence in the state’s conservation vision. These include:

  • Loess Hills
  • Northeast Iowa Blufflands region
  • Natural lakes
  • Prairie pothole region
  • Bird Conservation Areas
  • Rivers and floodplains