Prairies in Hardin County

Several of Hardin County's 64 parks and wildlife areas contain beautiful, diverse prairies. Some of the best are highlighted below.

Anders Wildlife Area
Arthur Hilker Wildlife Area
Pine Ridge

Anders Wildlife Area
25134 150th St, Iowa Falls
Anders Wildlife Area is completely reconstructed flatland mesic prairie of about 150 acres. It is located southeast of Iowa falls. Anders was obtained in 1997 with Hardin County Conservation beginning extensive reconstruction efforts in 2004. Since that time, reconstruction prairie has been completed across the entire 150 acres with the addition of 15 acres of food plots and shelterbelts.

Pale Purple Coneflower and White Wild Indigo can be found in the prairies at the Anders Wildlife Area.

Anders Wildlife Area Prairie: Pale Purple Coneflower and White wild indigo

Arthur Hilker Wildlife Area
21769 340th St, Zearing
Arthur Hilker Wildlife Area is a completely reconstructed upland prairie with several acres of wetlands. This area is located at on the Hardin/Story County line, about 6 miles south of Hubbard on US 65.

Arthur Hilker Wildlife Area was obtained in 2007. Hardin County Conservation immediately began management in the Fall of 2007, with a frost seeding of prairie grasses and forbs on 110 acres of converted farm ground. The final 30 acres surrounding the wetland is planned to be completed in the next few years. Controlled burning will continue to maintain native grasses as well as provide a nutrient base for the ever growing pheasant population. Prominent species include big blue stem and many wildflowers and forbs like the compass plant.

The photo below depicts Mallard Ducks using the wetland and prairie at Hilker as a stopover for the fall migration.

Hilker Prairie and Wetland: Mallards using the wetland as a stopover for the fall migration.

Rough Blazing Star, one of many forbs that can be found on the diverse plantings at Pine Ridge.Pine Ridge
312458 Co Hwy D35, Steamboat Rock
Pine Ridge is a fully reconstructed mesic prairie of about 30 acres and is located at a short 15-minute hike from the gun range parking lot. Pine Ridge was purchased from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2006. Hardin County began management in 2009.

Click to view a series of Pine Ridge Prairie photos taken from October 2013 to July 2015 from the same location.

From 2010 to the present, prescribed burns have been completed across the upland prairie. Invasive species control also began in the surrounding timbers and hillsides within the last few years. The high quality remnant South facing aspects of timber were cleared and maintained starting in 2013, and continual treatment of invasive species have persisted. Periodical burns of grasslands and surrounding timbers promote and maintain species diversity and will continue in the long term management of a very scenic area of Hardin County.

The photo at the right shows Rough Blazing Star, one of the many forbs that can be found on the diverse plantings at Pine Ridge.

Pine Ridge Prairie after a prescribed burn on October 8, 2013
Pine Ridge Prairie following an early fall prescribed burn conducted by Hardin County Conservation. This photo was taken on October 8, 2013.