Learn the history of Hayden Prairie, Howard County Conservation Board, Lake Hendricks Park and Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail.

  Howard County Conservation Board - History


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Hayden Prairie
Howard County Conservation Board
Lake Hendricks Park
Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail

Hayden Prairie
Hayden Prairie Iowa's Premier Prairie (click photo and map to enlarge)

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 their preservation.

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 map
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.

Howard 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 resources.

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
Riceville, IA

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.

Prairie 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.


Wildlife Area

Crane Creek

Lake Hendrichs - Riceville, IA

Whitetails Unlimited - Riceville, IA