Urban Conservation Tour to Be Held Tomorrow

OSKALOOSA — Mahaska County office of Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) along with the Mahaska County Master Gardeners will host a local Urban Prairie Field Day Tuesday, July 9, beginning at 5:30 pm at the NRCS – Oskaloosa Service Center 2503 Todd Street, Oskaloosa.   Please park in the parking lot and on side streets. Other stops for the field day include Watson Library planting at William Penn and the Oskaloosa Public Library.   The event is free and open to the whole family and includes a summertime treat at our last stop.

The field day will include a welcome and remarks from Myriam Lafreniere Landry, from the Mahaska Soil and Water Conservation District.  She will highlight the urban prairie plantings that have been completed since 2021 in Oskaloosa area including planting specifics, and costs and funding.  The native planting at the site was completed in 2021.  Amy Bouska, IDALS Urban Conservation Team will talk about different conservation practice and their benefits on water quality at this stop.

Prairies once stretched across Iowa and the Midwest.   Once 85% of Iowa was covered in prairie, today less than 1% remain.  Native plants and wildlife thrived creating the ecosystem which created the rich productive soil that dominates and defines Iowa. Prairies, and specifically prairie plants, are part of our heritage as Iowans.  Native plants include many types of grasses and forbs which offer many advantages to the introduced landscapes which dominate many local/urban settings. This advantages will be discussed at the stops of the field day.

The field day agenda will continue with a visit to the WPU Pollinator Garden at approximately 6 pm.  This planting at William Penn University is on the north side of the Penn Activity Center (PAC) and west of Watson Library.  Parking is available in the PAC parking lot.  This planting was completed in June of 2021.  Kevin Andersen, IDNR Wildlife Specialist, till talk about the importance of native plants for pollinators and how backyards can support wildlife.

Specific of each location’s plantings will be discussed as we visit the sites, including their costs including funding.  Cost share assistance is available to individuals or groups for potential projects with REAP funds.  NRCS personnel will provide information about the cost share program.

The final stop for the field day will be at the Oskaloosa Public Library at approximately 6:30 pm, this planting was completed in 2023.  Due to construction, the library parking lot is accessible from Market and Third Street West only.  Marion Gaughan, Library Director will explain how the project came to be planted.  Green Iowa, Americorp members, will be on hand to give an update on the existing plantings and planned projects.  Pam White, Mahaska County Master Gardener, and board member of Iowa Prairie Network will identify plant species and provide growing tips.  This organization is a grass roots, volunteer, organization that is dedicated to the preservation of Iowa’s prairie heritage.

The event is free and open to the whole family, but reservations are suggested to ensure adequate summertime treats. RSVP to Carla Ackley at 641-673-3476; NRCS-Oskaloosa Service Center or email carla.ackly@ia.nacdnet.net.  Inclement weather will postpone the event to Wednesday July 10.  If in doubt, please check local media and event organizers, as well as the organization’s Facebook pages.


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