As Iowa's landscape changed, so did its wildlife. Some animals were even extirpated (read about that here), but professionals have worked hard to restore some of Iowa's native areas to increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality and help our pollinators.

"Wetlands are being restored in certain areas," said Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist Mike Hawkins. "We're obviously never going to restore all the wetlands on the landscape --- it's not feasible and would interfere with other land use practices as well. We can use targeted approaches to restore wetlands, put wetlands back where they do the most good. From a wildlife standpoint those might be wetlands that are part of bigger complexes. Wildlife biology dictates that large complexes of wetlands and restored habitat are very beneficial."

(Fen, kame, esker --- what does those words mean?)

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Prairie plant roots help water quality

Native prairie plants make wonderful habitat for wildlife like voles, turkeys, rabbits, ground squirrels, hawks and foxes. They provide both habitat and food sources for tiny creatures such as monarch butterflies, bumblebees and milkweed beetles. They are beautiful to look at. However, they are also important in a way that we can’t see. Deep down…

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Four types of wetlands

Bog, marsh, swamp, fen. Often these words are used interchangeably, but in reality, each is its own type of wetland, which is a word used to refer to water-saturated landscapes. (Watch: What is a wetland?) A marsh is a wetland that is continually full of water. If you have been to the Florida Everglades, then…

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What is an oak savanna?

Kenue Park has three different ecosystems in its 70 acres, which makes it a great place to explore. You can see a wetland with rehabilitated trumpeter swans, prairie with native tallgrass species and a restored oak savanna. (Four ways to tell apart swans and snow geese) Iowa is not really known for its forests, but…

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Feeding the Kenue Park trumpeter swans

Check out the trumpeter swans on the wetland year-round with our live web camera. Click here. You can also find more videos on our Videos page or watch what Teddy the turtle eats here.

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Swans standing like flamingoes

I turned on the live web camera at the nature center last week and zoomed in on the two rehabilitated trumpeter swans on the wetland. The weather was warm, and it appeared the waterfowl were having a ball in the springtime temperatures. They dipped their necks down into the water and then bent them back…

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