Luther College will host the 14th Iowa Prairie Conference with the theme "Prairies on the Edge" July 18-20. This is the first time the conference, which moves to different sites in Iowa, will be held in northeast Iowa. The conference is open to anyone interested in prairies and is attended by a broad mix of prairie enthusiasts, educators, students, researchers and land managers.
"Prairies on the Edge" offers attendees an excellent opportunity to visit some of the tallgrass and hill prairies found at the northeast edge of Iowa, learn more about Iowa's native vegetation and discuss prairie conservation and management. Hill prairies in northeast Iowa are disappearing beneath invading red cedars due to the elimination of natural processes such as fire and grazing, and are currently threatened by the possibility of frac sand mining.
Conference organizers invite anyone with an interest in prairie preservation and restoration to register online at http://www.luther.edu/iowaprairieconference/RegistrationInfo/. Registration is $60 and includes the conference, five meals and bus transportation on two field trips. Information on discounts for students and exhibitor registration is also available on the site.
Throughout the weekend several regional experts will discuss prairie preservation, maintenance, wildlife and restoration.
Angella Moorehouse, Natural Areas Preservation specialist, Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, will give the banquet plenary talk titled "What Good Is a Hill Prairie? Economic, Cultural and Ecological Benefits."
Mike Osterholm, director of CIDRAP, University of Minnesota, will speak on "Prairie Steam Restorations" and attendees will then have the opportunity to visit his prairie restoration project, "Prairie Song Farm" on Friday afternoon.
Other invited speakers include Ty Smedes, nature photographer, "Things Worth Saving and Prairie Photography"; Colin Betts, Luther professor of anthropology, "The 'Little Prairie Sioux' and Late Prehistoric Human-Prairie Adaptations"; Jeff Abbas, Allamakee County Protectors, "Mining the Tallgrass-The Worst Idea Ever!"; Brian Fankhauser, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, "Land Preservation Options"; Armund Bartz, Bureau of Endangered Resources, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, "Prairie Butterflies and Moths-Introduction and Management"; Greg Schmidt, Private Lands biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, "Timber Rattlesnakes and Reptiles of Northeast Iowa Hill Prairies"; and Jesse Bennett, Driftless Land Stewardship, "Prescribed Grazing: Are Herbivores the 'Natural' Choice?"
In addition to the lectures, attendees can take a guided hike of Luther's natural areas-including three reconstructed tallgrass prairies, have the opportunity to venture out on field trips to Chipera Prairie and a number of hill prairies in Allamakee County, and peruse poster sessions on campus.
The Iowa Prairie Conference was founded by Pauline Drobney and a group of prairie enthusiasts after they attended the 10th North American Prairie Conference at Denton, Texas in 1986. The first Iowa Prairie Conference was held on the University of Northern Iowa in 1986, and in 2003 the organizers started moving the conference around the state to provide participants with an opportunity to visit prairies in different parts of the state.
Supplemental funding for the conference is provided by the Living Roadway Trust Fund, the Tallgrass Prairie Center, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Shooting Star Native Seeds and the Decorah hotel/motel marketing committee.
A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: www.luther.edu.