Tucked away in the Loess Hills, a group of people works every day to preserve a 3500 acre piece of Iowa's natural history. Saturday, folks from all over Siouxland gathered together to admire the progress that's been made.
"What I love is seeing the people come out and enjoy something that we work so hard to protect, every day," Jan Glendening, State Director for Iowa Nature Conservancy said.
The Broken Kettle Grasslands is Iowa's largest remaining native prairie. The fourth annual Bison Days gave people a chance to appreciate all the wildlife preserve has to offer, and experience nature up close.
"It's just a great opportunity to come out here and see all the animals and the wildlife. The fact that they're preserving all this is just phenomenal," Michael Crouch, Indiana.
"We have reptiles and snakes for people to look at, a real chance to really look at and interact with nature. We have raptors, we have an owl," Glendening said.
But the big attraction? The namesake of the event: a herd of about 150 buffalo.
"Our bison herd comes from Windcave National Park. It's a part of that herd. It's one of the few genetically pure herds left in the country," Glendening said.
The attendees of Saturday's free celebration of wildlife said the interaction with nature was breathtaking.
"I'd never seen bison up close before. That was fantastic. My daughter really likes the snakes, and my son loves the owls and the hawks. The birds were fantastic," Crouch said.
But aside from simply displaying what Iowa's natural landscape has to offer, Broken Kettle Grasslands is about saving that natural landscape, before it all disappears.
"These lands are really important for reptiles, for species, for people to come out and enjoy native lands, and what Iowa would have looked like 100, 150 years ago. So it's also a way to see a glimpse of the past," Glendening said.
Those who joined in Broken Kettle's celebration of wildlife and nature, tended to agree that the conservation efforts are certainly worth it.
"There's so little of this kind of area left, because everything's either been plowed over or built on. I think you have to keep some of it, because the prairie lands, the wildlife that live in this area are dying out. You just have to be able to preserve it, because it's going to be gone if we don't do something about it," Crouch said.
While they may not be doing it across the country, folks were glad that it was at least happening in the native prairie, hidden away in the Loess Hills.
"They don't have anything quite like this in Indiana, where I'm from. So I'm glad to see that they're doing this up here," Crouch said.
The Broken Kettle Grasslands are always open to the public, and feature hiking trails and wildlife viewing areas during the week.
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