Sunday, May 18, 2014

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

On Sunday we visited the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County, Iowa. This wildlife refuge aims to restore the tall grassland prairie that was once the predominant ecosystem of Iowa. The refuge was first bought as a 3,600 acre piece of land by Iowa Power and Light (originally intended to be a nuclear power plant) but was later bought by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service.
Terry and Diane working together planting native Iowa prairie vegetation

Big buffalo grazing on some tasty grass

Today the refuge consists of 8,659 acres and hosts a herd of 75 buffalo and 25 elk (We were lucky enough to see buffalo up close as they were grazing right next to the road!). The facility has a very informative museum that educates both children and adults about the prairie ecosystem and also has an excellent bookstore. While walking the 2 mile path we met a very nice volunteering couple, Terry and Diane, who were helping in the prairie restoration by planting various native vegetation along the path such as leadplant. The restoration process is ongoing so make sure to lend a helping hand if you're ever in the area!


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