The conservation board
maintains areas totaling over 900 areas that are managed as wildlife habitat
areas with little if any development on site. These relatively small areas
provide much needed shelter, food sources, and nesting cover for a variety of wildlife
indigenous to Webster County. These areas act as oasis in the surrounding sea
of row crops and treeless landscape so prevalent in most of the Midwest. The
areas are left as undisturbed as possible with only additional tree and shrub
plantings and food plot establishments as ongoing developments. To find out more about an individual area
click on the links below.
The Becker Wildlife Area, donated to the conservation board in 1986, is located on the Des Moines River just south of the county road D-14 bridge, north of Fort Dodge. Native grass and tree plantings were established in the area for the benefit of the wildlife found there, and visitors can use the parking area to gain easy access to the river for fishing and canoeing.
Named after an avid local conservationist, this 225-acre tract of land consists of different habitats such as steep wooded ravines, small tributaries, Lizard Creek, bottomland, woodland prairie and cropland. Although approximately 1/3 of this area had been farmed in previous years and marshes had been drained, 2 ponds, restored prairies, tree and shrub plantings, and food plots have since been established. Wildlife is abundant here because of the much-needed space that is available and the variety of habitats that exist. Migrating birds and waterfowl use the ponds as a resting place and nesting area. The area will be preserved as a wildlife habitat area and only hunting, hiking, and bird watching will be allowed. To get to the area, travel ¾ mile off of highway 169 on Ave. O west and park in one of the two parking lots available to the public.
Located approximately five miles southeast of Dayton, the Carlson recreation Area is 120 acres of natural diversity. From the timbered bluffs to the upland prairie, and to the typically level bottomland, the Carlson Area affords the visitor a chance to explore the scenic Des Moines River Valley. The valley contains the largest remaining tract of woodland, predominately oak and hickory, in north central Iowa, which present an awesome color show in the fall. The Carlson Area is readily accessible via a graveled county road a mile and a half south of the highway 175 Des Moines River bridge, between Dayton and Stratford. Before being destroyed by fire in 1981, the site contained the historically significant Anderson cabin, one of the first built in Webster County. Hikers will find a variety of trails with varying degrees of difficulty, and wildlife photographers will enjoy the abundance of suitable subjects throughout the area. In season, hunters may pursue wild turkey, deer, squirrels, and rabbits among other game species. The angler will find easy access to the Des Moines River.
Located about eight miles north of Fort Dodge on highway 169 lies the Deer Creek Wildlife Area. This seventeen-acre tract of natural flood plain timber is on the west bank of the Des Moines River and provides an excellent stopover facility for the canoe enthusiast. Wildlife abounds in this rather primitive area with large concentrations of whitetail deer. Fishing on the Des Moines River can provide some nice catches of channel catfish, small mouth bass, and walleye. Hunting is also permitted in season.
Donated to The Nature Conservancy by educator and conservationist Susan Atwell in 1968, The Diggings was acquired by the Conservation Board to help preserve the site of numerous coal excavation areas. Located on the eastern bank of the Des Moines River in the town of Fort Dodge, these 7 acres share a rich wildflower display in the spring with trees dominated by black oak, read oak, white oak, hickory, black maple, ash, and basswood. An interpretive nature trail established by Eagle Scouts takes hikers on a scenic tour of the property.
Current amenities at the park include an open shelter with picnic tables and a grill, menís and womenís restrooms, 1.5 mile MX track, two youth tracks, fishing ponds, training area, and 15 miles of trail accommodating ATVs, motorcycles, and ORVs. The park is open year around and the hours of operation are from sunrise to sunset. The park may be closed due to weather conditions or maintenance activity. Be sure to check current and future weather conditions for the area before making plans.
Located just one mile east of Coalville, and just north of Highway 20 is the 38-acre Holiday Creek Area. Acquired in 1987, the area is marked by heavily timbered ravines that provide prime habitat for a host of animal life. Hunting is permitted on the site during designated season.
This six-acre site, once a bustling hobo camp when railroading activity was at its peak, is today a diverse natural community, with a wide variety of plant and animal species. The railroad right-of-way area is a diverse natural community consisting primarily of marsh, tall grass prairie and woodland habitats. This area provides an outdoor classroom on the edge of town in which local people can view waterfowl, songbirds, woodland mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. Small patches of native tall grass prairie species can also be seen, all of which point out that Mother Nature never completely gives up her grasp of an area.
Located six miles southwest of Fort Dodge on county road P-51, this mesic native prairie featuring two potholes was purchased by the Conservation Board in 1972. In December 1976 the prairie was dedicated as a Natural Preserve by the State Preserves Advisory board, thus ensuring the integrity of the area for generations to come. The area lies in the central part of the Cary Lobe of the Wisconsin glacial region and harbors some of the richest soils in the world. These soils began development 14,000 year ago and were formed from glacial till, its subsequent erosion and the accumulation of organic materials. The prairie has been relatively undisturbed and it shows in the amount of diversity this prairie exhibits. The spectrum of colors displayed is unmatched and can be seen throughout the entire growing season. Some birds observed on the prairie are the bobolink, blue winged teal, dickcissel, western meadowlark, red winged blackbird, swamp sparrow, and grasshopper sparrow.
The Lundgren Church Nature Park, located on the former site of the Lundgren United Methodist Church is utilized as a rest stop/natural area with emphasis on the development of a mini wildlife sanctuary. Numerous shrubs and conifer trees have been planted and transplanted in the area, providing excellent wildlife habitat that will serve as an oasis for area wildlife. Located 7 miles west of Lehigh on highway 50, this site will be a living memorial to the church and its members for generations to come. We would like to express our appreciation to the church members for this sanctuary and hope the public enjoys it.
Acquired by the Conservation Board and dedicated on September 8, 2001, Meier Memorial Marsh was paid for in part by the Conservation Board, Zane Meier donated a portion of it, and the remaining acres were paid for by donations from Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. With a gentle rolling stream, fishing for small mouth bass and catfish is excellent. With the presence of a re-established wetland, this area provides excellent habitat for pheasants, waterfowl, and deer. Located on the western border of Webster County in the Lizard Creek river bottom, its 35 acres is a beautiful sight for hiking, bird watching, and hunting.
This forty-acre tract of land was purchased in 2003 through a partnership with several conservation organizations. Grants were awarded from the Webster County Pheasants Forever, State Council Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Iowa DNR Wildlife Habitat Stamp Fund. Two wetlands have been restored as well as the planting of a pristine native prairie mix. A windbreak will be established on the north and west boundaries of the property. This area is open to the public for all types of recreational uses that are compatible with wildlife habitat such as nature study, bird watching and hunting.
A borrow pit resulting from the construction of U.S. 20, the Moorland Pond area is 22.5 acres in size and is a popular fishing spot that sports trophy size fish species. The claim to fame for this area is the trumpeter swan restoration project involving a permanent pair of endangered trumpeter swans residing at the area with the hopes of raising cygnets each summer. Located just east of Moorland, the pond is easily accessible complete with a
Acquired in 1988 from the Iowa Department of Transportation, this 17 acre borrow pit was created when work was underway on the 520 expressway. Located on mile south of Duncombe, this site is used by a variety of wildlife that is attracted to the pond for food, water, and protection. Additional reclamation work continues on the site, including the establishment of native grasses that will benefit waterfowl, songbirds, small mammals, deer, and upland game species.
At one time Webster County, and all of north-central Iowa, was covered by literally thousands of marshes, fens, and other wetland environments. Rossow Prairie is a relict from this age and its 40 acres of upland prairie and slough is a haven for a variety of wildlife. Located 3 miles south and ¼ mile east of the town of Vincent the area is an outstanding outdoor classroom facility. A trip to Rossow can provide an exciting escape and a chance to view some of nature’s most interesting critters. Muskrats, mink, ducks, geese, shore birds, songbirds, turtles, fish, salamanders and many invertebrates are well suited to life in the wetland
The Shirley Kirchner-Seltz Youth Prairie is an 80 acre parcel of prairie northwest of Vincent on the south side of Highway C-56. This area is a mixture of upland and wetland habitats. This prairie is managed for youth hunting only. Hunters under the age of 16 years old may hunt this property either with a licensed (non-weapon carrying) adult or if the youth has taken hunter safety and has a valid hunting license.
This is the site of a prehistoric Native American ceremonial ground. Five conical burial mounds and one linear ceremonial mound lie forever on the heavily timbered limestone bluff overlooking the Des Moines and Skillet Creek valleys. The mounds were probably built 2,000 to 1,500 years ago by an extinct culture called the Woodland Indians. Found in the bottomland of this area is the old mining town of Hard Scrabble. Once a thriving town in the late 1890’s there are few remains left to indicate such a life existed. The area is located 5 miles east of Dayton, just north of the highway 175 bridge and the Carlson Recreation Area. There is a parking area and self-guided interpretive trail. The area is a preserve.
This recent addition to the Webster County Conservation Board is a natural pothole that has been re-established with the help of the NRCS. Currently there are about 1.5 acres of open water. The remainder of the area consists of about 15 acres of high quality restored prairie and a 1-acre windbreak along the north end. The area provides many of the basic necessities for the life cycles of many types of wildlife. The primary focus is on upland bird and waterfowl production. The area is open to public hunting with the exception of the 200 yard "no shooting zone" around the neighboring house. There is a parking lot in the southeast corner of the property. Whispering Wings Marsh is located 1 1/4 miles east of Fort Dodge on old Highway 20.
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