In 2001, the Cedar Falls Rotary Club partnered with the Cedar Falls Parks Division, University of Northern Iowa, and Black Hawk County Conservation office to establish a 10 acre prairie on the south end of Big Woods Lake.
Prior to its restoration, the land was in dire need of help, overgrown with weeds, thistles, and trees. Now, the land is home to 90 different native grass and wildflower species.
The project required hard work and dedication from the Rotary membership, but it has long-lasting benefits for the community of Cedar Falls.
Why would the Cedar Falls Rotary Club restore a prairie?
- Prescribed burning restores prairie ecosystems, which are valuable because of the rich diversity of plant and animal life they support.
- Choosing prairie as a method to maintain property reduces mowing and the resultant pollution.
- Prairie plants are especially useful for flood control. The root matrix acts as a sponge slowing water runoff.
- Prairies help prevent the premature loss of topsoil.
- Prairies build soil.
- Prairie is exceptionally good at filtering nutrients from water, thus reducing water pollution.
- Prairies are magical places.
- Restoring prairie is meaningful simply because it brings back what was here.
- Prescribed burning, done correctly, supports native ecosystems. Therefore, participating in the activity we find our place in nature. We become stewards of the land.
- Prairies are beautiful
- Prairies often have an influence on people who walk through them. One person mentioned that she feels a sense of wholeness when she enters a prairie.
- Keeping out prairies alive and healthy is important for the future of mankind, because there are medicinal properties in the many species of plants that we have not yet discovered.
- Large prairies play an important role in giving us the experience of something vast like the experience of the ocean.
- Burning the landscape exposes the features of the land, the geology.
- Many people feel a strong attraction to openness to the degree that some would call it a genetic imprint. Prairie feeds our need for openness.
- Prairie restoration leads us forward reaching for a system of ever more complexity and diversity. A goal would be to recreate a habitat that would support native species such as the buffalo and prairie chickens.