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||Iowa's Premier Prairie (click photo and map to
Please Note: Hayden Prairie is state-managed by the
Iowa Department of Natural Resources. For more information or any
questions regarding Hayden Prairie please call the Iowa Wildlife
Biologist - Upper Iowa Unit at 563-382-4895.
|Hayden's interest in prairie was probably fostered by her parents.
The Hayden family set aside a small parcel of native prairie just for
the natural beauty of the plants. While on the farm she developed an
appreciation of the prairie. Later, her academic and professional life
revolved around the tallgrass prairie. During her tenure as professor of
botany at Iowa State, she continued to study prairies and fight for
In 1940 Hayden received a $100 grant from the Iowa Academy of Science to
survey remnant prairies and make recommendations for their preservation.
Acting on her recommendation, the first prairie preserves were acquired
by the state in the late 1940s. After her death in 1950, the state
prairie preserve located near Lime Springs was named in her honor.
|Ada Hayden - Ada
Hayden, born and raised on a farm near Ames, IA, was one of the early
champions of the tallgrass prairie. She graduated from Ames High School
in 1904 and enrolled at Iowa State College. She studied botany and
received a bachelor of science degree in 1908. Ada continued her studies
and received her master of science degree from Washington University in
1910. In 1918, Hayden became the first woman to receive a PhD degree
from Iowa State College.
Hayden Prairie is one of Iowa's best prairie remnants. This 240-acre
prairie, purchased in 1945, was the first prairie to be acquired by the
state and was named in honor of Dr. Ada Hayden. In 1966 it was named a
national registered landmark. Two years later the state of Iowa
designated Hayden Prairie as a state preserve.
Hayden Prairie originally comprised a small portion of the tallgrass
prairie. This ecosystem covered million of acres, running from southern
Canada to Oklahoma. Settlement of the Midwest rapidly destroyed most of
the prairie. Hayden Prairie, which was annually hayed and occasionally
grazed for 80 years after settlement, escaped the fate which befell the
rest of the tallgrass prairie. Acting upon recommendations of Ada
Hayden, the Fish and Game Division of the State Conservation Commission
purchased the 240-acre prairie at a cost of $10,001.00 in 1945.
Controlled burning and haying were used as management techniques of the
prairie. In 1971, acting upon the recommendations of Dr. Paul
Christiansen, haying was eliminated as a management technique. Burning,
which removed leaf litter, destroys woody vegetation, and stimulated the
growth of many prairie species, is now the primary management tool.
This information was provided through efforts of the Howard County
Sesquicentennial Committee and the Howard County Conservation Board.
County Conservation Board
History and Purpose
The Howard County Conservation Board (HCCB) was authorized by a vote of the
people at a general election in 1956, for the purpose of acquiring and
developing county parks, preserves, wildlife areas, forests and other
conservation areas and to encourage the wise management of our natural
The conservation board consists of five individuals who show demonstrated
interests in conservation and recreational activities. Conservation board
members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors to staggered five-year terms.
Monthly meetings are held at the Prairie's Edge Nature Center every second
Wednesday of the month. The meetings are open to the public.
Lake Hendricks Park
The idea for Lake Hendricks Park first began in the autumn of 1951 when K.K.
"Buck" Hendricks had asked a couple of friends to accompany him on a walk in
"Hendricks Woods". During their walk, Buck expressed an interest in preserving
the area for future generations.
During the period of 1958-60, the Howard County Conservation Board and the
Mitchell County Conservation Board began planning the establishment of Lake
Hendricks Park. The Army Corps of Engineers assisted with the design and
specification of the dam. Local volunteers completed most of the construction of
the lake bed.
Today Lake Hendricks Park is Howard County's largest and most popular park. This
234-acre park is one of the oldest in the county conservation board system.
Farmer Recreational Trail
A 20-mile trail between Cresco and Calmar
Much of the Prairie Farmer Recreational trail is constructed on the abandoned
Milwaukee Road Railroad Line. The line dates from 1866 when the McGregor Western
Railroad Company finished the route from McGregor to Cresco. A year later the
line was deeded to the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. By 1869, the McGregor
and Sioux City Railroad, also to become part of the Milwaukee and St. Paul Line,
finished its route from Calmar to Nora Springs.
During the early part of the 20th Century, train activity was at its peak. In
any one day, up to 30 trains would pass through Calmar, including passenger
trains, freight trains, and mixed trains, many of which traveled on this portion
of the line.
By the early 1950s, the popularity of the automobile took its toll on passenger
trains. The Marquette, a luxurious passenger train, was pulled off the line. In
1960, the last passenger train, The Sioux, was discontinued.
To convert the railroad line to trail, the ties were removed, the bed graded,
and a limestone chip surface was laid and compacted.
The Howard County Conservation Board in the provisions
of services and facilities to the public does not discriminate against anyone on
the basis of race, color, sex, creed, national origin, age, or handicap. If
anyone believes he or she has been subject to such discrimination, he or she may
file a complaint alleging discrimination with either the Howard County
Conservation Board or the Office of Equal Opportunity, US Dept. of Interior,
Washington, D.C. 20240.