The Dickinson County Conservation Board has two new parcels of land on 195th Avenue, south of County Road A-34 in Milford. We worked hard this summer at the Little Foote Forest parcel, attempting to eradicate some of the invasive garlic mustard on the plot, but I had yet to walk through the Little Sioux Savanna parcel across the street.
Yesterday was a beautiful fall day, and I decided to head out there to take some photos.
I had no idea what I had been missing.
I turned my SUV into the new parking area and then walked a few hundred feet to where a section of trees starts. A flock of birds was obviously not used to be disturbed on this piece of land and flew to the treetops, eyeing me warily. As the sun shone down through the branches that were steadily losing their leaves, I snapped a few pictures.
From this view, it might not seem like the Little Sioux Savanna is much more than a nice place for public hunting. It doesn't look like more than a grove a trees from the road.
But keep walking.
"Wow," I muttered to myself.
The trees soon opened up to a grassy area with an expansive overlook of the Little Sioux River. The view was the absolute picture of autumn in Iowa, with a beautiful brook, dried prairie grasses, trees changing color in the distance, and soft sunlight.
As I walked down a grassy hill, grasshoppers darted out of my path and into the safer, longer grasses off to the side. Yet again, in this pristine area, the wildlife was not used to being disturbed.
A pair of cloudless sulphur butterflies chased each other around, zooming up and down, took quick for the zoom on my camera lens to capture. I smiled as they played like children, stopping every so often to rest on a long stem of tan grass.
The water drew me forward, and I walked to the bottom of the hill where the sharp river walls started. Reflections of trees and the sky peered back at me as the glassy surface of the water made for the perfect mirror.
Trails continued on through the forest and the grassland, beckoning me to come back to enjoy the area another day, beckoning people to come soak in the beauty of this new public gem.
I, however, had to keep moving on. As much I wanted to just sit, breathe in the smell of autumn and watch the day tick away, I turned away, reluctantly, to leave.
But the Little Sioux Savannah is still there, just waiting to be discovered, just waiting to be enjoyed, just waiting for you.