Prairie land to return to Lee County over the next decade

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 5:43 PM CST
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DONNELLSON, Ia. (WGEM) - A Lee County couple’s last request is one step closer to being honored.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has given the Lee County Conservation Board (LCCB) a documented 10 year plan to restore more than 300 acres of farmland.

Conrad and Eleanor Denning lived on what is now know as the Denning Conservation Area for decades.

They decided that when they both died, they would like to see the 306 acres of farm land be restored to it’s original prairie ecosystem.

“Iowa has great farming ground and so most people want to farm their ground and that’s awesome, but they wanted to have a wildlife refuge and then restore this acreage back into native prairie,” said LCCB Director Heather Huebner.

Conrad died in the 1990′s while Eleanor lived to be 108 years old before passing in 2018.

According to Naturalist and Environmental Education specialist Clay Steele, since LCCB and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have a documented plan, they can take further steps in changing the land.

“We’ve been mowing it for a couple of years to kind of keep the weeds down, we’ll be able to start burning it every couple of years to keep the trees and the weeds out of it and as that happens some of the flowers and stuff will start to come up a lot better and we’ll have a lot of pollinated habitat then,” Steele said.

Steele is one of two educators that teaches students across 300 classroom programs.

As the land is restored, Steele said the LCCB will continue bringing school aged children out to the land to learn.

They’ll be able to learn about the prairie ecosystem in a real world way.

“I’m looking forward to the day I can bring kids out and see at large, this is gonna be our largest prairie,” Steele said.

LCCB currently has a farmer that works the land.

The restoration project will be funded by the profits that are made from selling his goods.

Visitors are welcome to view the land as it slowly returns to it’s original state any day from dawn until dusk.

Wildlife management area plan
Wildlife management area plan(Lee Co. conservation)

Click here to learn more about Iowa prairies.

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