A rare flower listed as “threatened” by both the state and federal governments will get a little more breathing room in eastern Iowa. A federal grant of 200-thousand dollars is being split by preservation agencies in both Iowa and Illinois, and Iowa’s portion will purchase about 36 acres of land around Baldwin Marsh in Jackson County. It’s there that the Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid is found, according to Wayne Fischer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the orchid grows about four feet tall and its white flowers, which are blooming now, appear in clusters of about 40 and have a “really great” fragrance. Fischer is a wildlife biologist, working out of the Rock Island, Illinois, office. Fischer explains why it’s important to preserve this flower, which was likely much more prevalent in Iowa before the land was settled.Jackson County’s Baldwin Marsh is one of four places in Iowa where the flower can be found, according to Fischer. The others are in: Jones, Johnson and Decatur counties. He says the greatest threat to this delicate flower is the loss of its habitat, and he adds, Iowa’s lost 99-point-nine percent of the prairieland that was here 150 years ago. Fischer says the prairie orchid was added to the federal threatened and endangered list more than a decade ago.
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