Natural Land Management

We are very fortunate in Hardin County to have access to so many parks, woodlands, prairies, and wetlands. The Iowa River Greenbelt offers scenic views along with thousands of acres of protected natural resources; whatever you enjoy doing in the outdoors, you are sure to find it in one of our parks.

Yellow flowers on the woodland floor.

The Natural Resource Manager position is responsible for enhancing and restoring our natural areas, throughout our woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. We work tirelessly to restore our parks back to what their original state would be; a pre-European view of the landscape. Our work can be seen throughout many of our parks, like the removal of invasive brush and trees in Sac & Fox Overlook to restore this area back to Savanna and prairie. Or in Ruby Wildlife Area, as we remove dense young stands of shade tolerant trees, to further promote Oak regeneration throughout an once oak dominant woodland.

Burning leaves as part of a prescribed burn.To accomplish our work in the woodlands we implement a vast array of techniques based on the site we are working to help us achieve our goals.

Prescribed Fire
Have you ever seen a smoke plume rising up in the distant over one of our parks? That is us bringing prescribed fire back to the landscape, which is an essential tool for us in prairie and woodland management. Its a very physical job with much of the removal of undesirable trees and invasive plants accomplished by chainsaws and brush-cutters.

Tree/Brush Removal
On sites that allow it we will try to use heavy machinery to aid in the removal of trees and brush but as many of us know topography is a major part of the Iowa River Greenbelt. Because of this, we have been flash grazing goats since 2014, on our more inaccessible areas. This allows us to complete tree thinning and invasive plant removal in our steepest properties.

Establishing Prairies
Establishing reconstructed prairies is another vital portion of the position made even more apparent as we try to establish more habitat for our failing pollinator species, which is discussed in more detail in the prairie section.

As you can see, Natural Resources management is a varied position using many different skills and techniques to achieve our land management goals for the county. We can be found year-round, hot or cold, rain or sun, out in our parks, working tirelessly to enhance and restore our treasured resources.