Volunteers are needed today to help several of Iowa’s parks stay healthy through what are called “prairie rescue” events. Kevin Pape, park ranger of Stone State Park in Sioux City, says he’ll be sending out teams of helpers this morning to clear brush and small trees. He says the brush encroachment is a serious problem, as the Loess Hills were once treeless. He says the absence of fire to kill the trees has allowed them to flourish.Prairie once covered nearly 80-percent of the Hawkeye State, but 99-point-9 percent of Iowa’s original prairie is now gone. Though Iowa’s prairies were once self-sustaining, many remaining prairies require human intervention to stay healthy. Pape says no experience is necessary for the volunteers. On-site experts will provide guidance and prairie education. Other parks taking part in prairie rescue events today include Folsom Point near Council Bluffs and the Loess Hills Forest Overlook near Pisgah. Most of the events run from 9 AM until noon or 1 P.M. For more information or to sign up, see the Prairie Rescue website at “www.inhf.org/prairierescue2003.htm”.