Bobolinks nesting in the prairie, Blanding’s turtles resting by the stream, bald eagles flying overhead — a walk through the Judd Wildlife Area allows some of nature’s finest to show off.
Twenty years ago, the Dickinson County Conservation Board looked to add a public recreation area south of Milford, and a Wildlife Habitat Stamp grant assisted with the purchase of the original 136 acres of the Judd Wildlife Area.
Work began to revitalize the area, including enhancing habitat on 72 acres of grassland that were in the Conservation Reserve Program as well as restoring 10 acres of prairie and four acres of wetland.
Then the opportunity arose in 2000 to add on approximately 24 acres to the park and enhance the brome/alfalfa mix on the property with native grasses. The conservation board also worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to seed native prairie plants throughout the entire Judd Wildlife Area and to develop more than 3,000 feet of dikes for water retention.
An additional 80 adjoining acres was purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation in 2009, and after fundraising and applying for grants, the Dickinson County Conservation Board purchased and took control of the additional property in 2013.
Today, the Judd Wildlife Area is more than 230 acres of beautiful restored land that makes people feel like they have stepped back in time. Open meadows overlook a winding prairie stream, and a softwood forest lines the edge of the Little Sioux River.
Visit the park at 1987 250th St., Milford, and take a walk along mowed paths or make your way through the tallgrass prairie to find beautiful native flowers. The land is a photographer’s dream with plenty of avian life and vibrant prairie blooms.
Canoers and kayakers can access the Little Sioux River off the south side of the property, jetting off to conquer the ever-changing water landscape.
Fishermen will enjoy testing their luck on the river as well. Grab your rod and reel and try to bag a catfish, walleye, northern pike, bullhead or bass. Plus, the Judd Wildlife Area is open to public hunting.
With eight parks and even more public areas, the Dickinson County Conservation Board has a variety of gems for the public to explore to help foster an appreciation of the natural world. See a new series of Youtube videos on each park, coming out periodically in 2016. Check out the Judd Wildlife Area video on the DCCBnaturecenter Youtube channel.