Iowa Ecosystems: Wetlands

This month, our Master Conservationist class was held at Heron Haven in Omaha, NE to discuss the wetlands ecosystem.

Heron Haven is a spring-fed wetland sanctuary. The sanctuary features one of the last oxbow wetlands of the Big Papillion Creek and it is within Omaha’s city limits. You may remember my recap of a Master Gardener meeting at Heron Haven last year, view photos here.

There are a total of six classes throughout the summer, one Saturday per month. This was the fourth class of the 2019 Master Conservationist program here in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Unfortunately, I had to miss the very first class as I was in Atlanta for work. The class is a group effort by Golden Hills RC&DPottawattamie County ConservationPottawattamie County Soil & Water ConservationPottawattamie County NRCSISU Extension and Outreach West Pottawattamie.

View my Iowa Ecosystems recaps of Forests and Prairie from the Master Conservationist program if you want to get caught up.

So, wetlands…. our homework was to listen to a lengthy lecture, watch a shorter video and read a few articles on wetlands. The shorter video was titled Incredible Wetlands, watch it below.

Two PDF Downloads:
Iowa Wetlands
Iowa Waterways

Similar to the native prairie, our native wetlands have been replaced by fairground. A lot of the “Des Moines Lobe” glacial area used to be native wetlands, which is the part of Iowa where I was raised (Nevada, Iowa).

During today’s class we learned about the history of Heron Haven, how the neighborhood learned the wetland property was going to be developed into apartments and came together to save it.

We also heard Paul Miller from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. Paul showed us several examples of rain gardens and water catchment systems across the state. We learned about how important the native wetlands were and still are to Iowa’s landscapes. The IDALS has several great programs and I hope to look into what they do more in the future.

Then we toured the grounds and Heron Haven.

Learning how duck weed is a sign of a healthy wetland.
Can you spot the turtle head peaking out?
Can you spot the frog?
Someone said this was a flat backed turtle. It was so tiny!
This wetland sanctuary is right off of Maple in Omaha.
Wild bergamont.

Then we explored the pollinator garden on the property.

Gray headed coneflower.
Joe Pye Weed. A pollinator favorite.
We decided this was a type of mint.

To learn more about Heron Haven, visit their website. To learn more about the master conservationist program, visit their website.

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