To restoration biologists, these areas are surreal in that we know man can never duplicate the dynamic interactions that occur in original, undisturbed, functioning ecosystems. Iowa’s high-quality natural areas today represent mere specks on the map. These native habitats that served to make the state what it is today … extremely productive soils that now feed the world are gone. Let's not forget that these same productive soils were formed by these original plant communities that at one time were home to the most diverse, productive prairies, wetlands and savannas on the planet. Today, natural areas are relegated to marginal areas at best … areas that were not suited to the plow, leaving the best land reserved for food production. However, our few remaining natural areas give us an ever-so-slight glimpse of the diversity Iowa once had. As a society and outdoors person, we are relegated to this diminished reality. Even at that, it is clear that our wild places hold a very special place on the landscape and that we need to do everything possible to save and manage their integrity and diversity to the best of our ability for the sake of our natural world and those who wish to be enlightened by this environment.
If you do not already have them, make the investment — buy a good pair of binoculars and plant, insect and bird identification guides, then venture out into the wild. If you are paying attention, you will be amazed!
— Kurt Baker is the Wapello County Conservation Board director.