Savannas in Hardin County

Savannas can be found throughout Hardin County. Projects in the Sac & Fox Wildlife Area and Anders Wildlife Area highlight the benefits of savanna management.

Anders Wildlife Area
25134 150th Street, Iowa Falls
The savanna area at Anders Wildlife Area
is a real gem and has a great deal of potention. The oak savanna was once one of the most common vegetation types in the Midwest but is today highly endangered. Intact oak savannas are now one of the rarest plant communities on earth. Just hiking through the area in the Fall of 2014, one could see several remnant prairie species showing through where ever there was enough light reaching the ground. This site, not too long ago, had Pasque flower documented on it by Nancy Slife, an indicator that this could withhold a high quality remnant prairie.

Starting in the Fall of 2014, Conservation managed the honeysuckle by mowing with the BrushCat. We did not want to use a great deal of herbicide on this site until we knew what sort of response we would get from the prairie. We started felling with a chainsaw all of the undesirable tree species, consisting mainly of cedar, cherry, mulberry, box-elder, and ash and created small burn piles. We also put a fire break in on the east and west boundaries of the unit as this site was planned to be burned in the Spring of 2015.

The photos below show the Anders Savanna Restoration Project from January 2015 to May 2015.

Anders savanna restoration project January 2015 Anders savanna restoration project February 2015
January 2015 February 2015
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Anders savanna restoration project April 2015 Anders savanna restoration project May 2015
April 2015 May 2015

Throughout the winter, we used a mixed approach of management on the steep drainages and slopes surrounding the savanna unit at Anders Wildlife Park. Where it was feasible, we felled the trees and piled and where the grade made it difficult, we used Basal Bark treatment of brush/trees. During the last week in February 2015, the conditions were perfect for staff to get machinery (Tree-sheer/Grapple/Chainsaw) back on the site and start removing more trees. The results after just a few days of work are quite impressive. Hardin County Conservation encourages everyone to get out and check the area out as we expect a total transformation to take place among the vegetation.

Sac & Fox Wildlife Area
19501 Co Hwy S56, Steamboat Rock
Sac & Fox Wildlife Area is a mostly reconstructed prairie through its expansive valley, but has great potential for remnant prairie on its steep slopes where these large Bur and White oak trees reside. Sac & Fox is located just north of Steamboat Rock. The beautiful overlook gives a rare opportunity to see a bird’s-eye view of native prairies and Oak Savannas.

Obtained in1995, Hardin County began savannah management in Sac & Fox in 2002 and began conducting prescribed burning in 2005. Below is a series of photos of the timber stand improvement project at Sac & Fox from October 2014 to May 2015. The project involved the removal of dense invasive honeysuckle.

Sac & Fox timber stand improvement project in October 2014. Sac & Fox timber stand improvement project in December 2014. Sac & Fox timber stand improvement project in May 2015.