Woodbury County teams up with conservation corps to save native - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Woodbury County teams up with conservation corps to save native prairie

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Sioux City and the Western part of Iowa is one of the few places in the world where you'll find the Loess Hills.

It's natural prairie land, but if not taken care of, those hills could disappear.

For the last three years, the Woodbury County Conservation Board has been working on treating 24-acres of the Riverside Bluffs prairie in the Loess Hills.

"Some threatened and endangered plants that are found, some butterflies endangered, etc. that are found in the Loess Hills and on Riverside Bluffs," said Mark Peterson, deputy director of the Woodbury County Conservation Board. "So without us preserving this area, they're going to be gone."

This week the board has the Conservation Corps Iowa Loess Hills crew helping remove woody plants like shrubs and trees to save the area.

The conservation corps specializes in ecological restoration work and has been working on projects for six months.

"Most of the members here have college degrees and have a lot of experience in the classroom," said Tyler Knight, leader of the Conservation Corps Iowa Loess Hills crew. "But nothing compares to being out in the field and learning it hands on and getting dirty."

While the crew gains experience, they are able to revive the Loess Hills.

Peterson says the only place in the world where the loess soil is as thick is in China.

He says the treatment is not only good for the environment, but also benefits local residents.

"By having some of this open space area, it allows people to get away from their busy, daily life and maybe take a hike up here in the hills," said Peterson. "The views are beautiful."

Iowa once had 30-million acres of prairie.  

Today there are only 11,000 acres of Loess Hills in the state, making this piece of land in Siouxland precious prairie.

Peterson says he hopes the 24-acre project will be completed by the end of 2016. 

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