Environmentalists are working to restore a prairie and trout stream in far northeast Iowa. Mike Osterholm, a former state epidemiologist in Minnesota, is leading the effort to restore a section of what’s called the “driftless” area of Allamakee and Clayton counties. Osterholm says farming has damaged a once vibrant area, but he believes the damage can be undone. Osterholm says “I think this is something that when more people find out about it, they will understand why things like fire, flowers and fish are all compatible and why they’re necessary if we’re to really experience this land like we once did. The 98-acre parcel of land once had a number of cold water trout streams, a massive oak savanna and tall grass prairie. He says he wants to bring it back to its original state. Osterholm says many people are familiar with the area’s rugged limestone bluffs and valleys, but not its prairies:He says “It took literally hundreds of thousands of years before the first white men set foot in the midwest to develop this extensive tall grass prairie and savannas and literally in about 40-years we did it in.” The restoration will cost more than 100-thousand dollars and while he’s had some grant money dedicated to the project, Osterholm says he wants to find other ways to fund it. He says he’s hoping to inspire others in the area to take similar steps.
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