The 2017 Iowa Prairie Conference will take place in Council Bluffs on July 14 and 15. The conference will focus on prairie protection, restoration and reconstruction in the central and southern Loess Hills.
The conference is open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Registration is $80 and includes five meals. Student registration is $60. Prices will increase by $20 each ($100 for regular and $80 for students) after June 15 if space is still available, so register soon! Iowa Prairie Network is offering scholarships for students. Contact Mark Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 515.412.7130) to apply for a student scholarship. Registration closed on June 15 and the conference is full. If you would like to be added to a waitlist in case any spots open up, please email email@example.com.
Hotels, B&B, and camping are available nearby. Block hotel rooms will be available at Holiday Inn (2202 River Road) and Hampton Inn (2204 River Road) in Council Bluffs. Standard rooms are $112 per night and must be reserved by June 16. A full list of lodging options is available here..
Friday morning’s keynote will be John Price, an author, Creative Writing professor, and Council Bluffs resident. Steve Chaplin with The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, who helped write the Minnesota Prairie Conservation Plan, will provide Saturday’s keynote. He will discuss the prairie plan and inspire Iowans to develop a similar plan. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, “The Prairie Conservation Plan focuses efforts on grassland and wetland, and demonstrates unprecedented cooperation between federal agencies, state agencies and the state’s most active conservation organizations. The plan identifies core conservation areas and creates a vision of a connected landscape from Canada to Iowa.”
Breakout sessions will include topics such as prescribed fire, invertebrates, invasive species, pollinators, landowner options for prairie protection, restoration, and reconstruction, and more. The conference will highlight many of the great projects that have taken place and continue to progress in the Loess Hills. The most successful projects have involved diverse partnerships with public and private individuals and agencies. Grassroots approaches led by local people instead of hierarchical bureaucracies have been most effective and can provide excellent models to emulate elsewhere. Conference attendees will be encouraged to think outside the box to develop solutions for prairie issues where they live and work, and will leave inspired by the stories they hear.
Attendees will have the opportunity to do two of three field trips. One will focus on prairies within and near urban areas. Representatives from Sioux City and Council Bluffs, the largest cities in the Loess Hills, will teach about lessons learned from their prairie projects. Another field trip will head north to county- and state-owned lands in Harrison and Pottawattamie counties. A third trip will explore prairies in the southern Loess Hills, including public and private lands projects.
The Iowa Prairie Conference is a biennial event for prairie practitioners and enthusiasts to meet and learn about all the great things happening across the state. The 2015 conference was held at the Tallgrass Prairie Center in Cedar Falls. Click here for information about the 2015 conference, including videos of presentations.
Field Trip InfoWe will be taking buses on the field trips so you do not need to drive, but information and maps are available here.
Location and Directions Looft Hall is located at Iowa Western Community College on the northeast side of Council Bluffs near Highway 6 and Interstate 80. From I-80, take exit 8 (Highway 6/Council Bluffs/Oakland exit), then go west about 0.5 mile to College Road (the first stoplight). Turn left (south) for 0.1 mile, then take the first right onto Circle Drive. Stay on Circle Dr. for 0.2 mile and take the first right onto Tower Parkway. The Looft Hall parking lot is in about 500 feet.