O'Brien County Conservation Board Headquarters


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It is the desire of the O'Brien Conservation Board to provide the best possible education and preservation with regard to the nature and environment so unique to this area.  The Prairie Heritage Center provides classrooms, exhibit areas, demonstration plots and interpretive trails to aid in increasing the public's understanding of the prairie ecosystem and history of the area. Regular, year-round environmental education programs for school groups, 4-H groups, scout groups and the general public are presented at the center by staff naturalists and guest speakers.

The Waterman area offers some of the most breath-taking views of nature in the area. Formed during the last ice age by the movement of glaciers, the geographic valley we are nestled near a geographical wonder known as a hanging valley. These glaciers carved the beautiful bluffs, valleys, rivers and lakes we see today. They also deposited some of the richest soil, known as till, in the world.

In addition to the landscape, the Waterman Area offers a wide variety of flora and fauna, indigenous to the area for thousands of years. Much of the native prairie grasses, wildflowers and tree growth look the same today as they would have when the first native peoples inhabited this land. There are even plots of land in the vicinity that remain virgin prairie, untilled by human hands or machinery.

In the mid-1940's Dr. Ada Hayden of Iowa State University conducted a statewide inventory of prairie remnants. Her #1 site for preservation is the Waterman area. It should be noted that according to a report for the Nature Conservancy, this site is one of the few locations for the Prairie Bush Clover, a rare species listed with the federal government. The Conservancy has also identified this area as "as site of regional significance in our Northern Tallgrass Ecoregional Plan".

The area is so noteworthy in beauty, it is now part of the State of Iowa's Scenic By-Way program and is located along Northwest Iowa's Glacial Trail Scenic Byway.

Location

The O'Brien County Conservation Board's offices are located at the Prairie Heritage Center, which is located:4 1/2 miles Southeast of Sutherland, Iowa on Highway 10 and then a mile north on Yellow Avenue or 3 1/2 miles Northwest of Peterson, Iowa on Highway 10 and then a mile north on Yellow Avenue.

Features

The O'Brien County Conservation Board Staff provides classrooms, exhibit areas, demonstration plots, and interpretive trails to aid in increasing the public's understanding of the prairie ecosystem and history of the area. Regular, year-round environmental education programs for school groups, 4-H groups, scout groups and the general public are presented at the center by staff naturalists and guest speakers are presented at our O'Brien County Parks & Facilities.

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