County Offices Closed Monday February 18, 2019 in Observance of President's Day

Upcoming Events

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For more upcoming events see the recent newsletter:

Dallas County Conservation Board
Raccoon River Greenbelt Newsletter
Winter Solstice Edition 2018-2019

 Throughout 2019

Sand County Almanac 70th Anniversary Leopold Series Events

The year 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of one of the most iconic and influential literary works in the conservation field, A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. A native Iowan, Leopold is considered to be the father of the modern day science of ecology. Dallas County Conservation Board will celebrate this milestone by offering a series of programs inviting the public to come to know, or in some cases reexamine, the ideas Leopold presented in this book. 

Leopold states that the objectives of environmental education should be to teach the student to see the land, then to understand what they see, and to finally enjoy what they understand. DCCB’s 2019 programs will strive to do just this. Can we help you to see Dallas County with new eyes? Will you better understand the land you perceive with newfound vision? And can we help you to turn this sight and understanding into a new level of enjoyment of Dallas County’s wild places? Please consider inviting Leopold’s thoughts into your world by joining us in this 70th anniversary year.
We kicked off this series of programs in January with a public viewing of a documentary film The Green Fire. This Emmy award winning production examines Leopold’s life and writings and served to set the table for Dallas County learners to begin a year of Leopold.

Leopold Bench Project was also launched in January. DCCB will engage the public in the building of a set of a dozen Leopold benches, each inscribed with a Leopold quote. These benches will serve both a utilitarian function by providing seating at DCCB programming and also provide an educational service by putting Aldo’s words in the public eye. These benches will be dispersed around the county at various DCCB Conservation Areas and Raccoon River Valley Trail sites where they will inspire new vision, understanding, and joy.

The Leopold year invites you to transfer your personal learning into the wilds of Dallas County, sharing it with a hiker, or biker, as they seek a seat for rest, and come away with a new vision of our place.


Scheduled event (Feb. 10 & March 20) information below. 

2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge 

Dallas County citizens may be surprised at the number of different bird species that exist within the area. We have diverse habitats and unique geographic features that are attractive to many varieties of birds. In an effort to educate the public, DCCB staff would like to partner with Dallas County citizens to document as many different kinds of birds within the county for the year 2019. In the birding community this is known as a Big Year.

What: A Big Year is a fun, informal competition to document the birds in Dallas County for one year.
Who: Anyone living in /visiting Dallas County including beginner or novice birders. Children welcome.
Where: Within the borders of Dallas County. Counting a bird just over the county line is poaching.
When: DCCB staff will have scheduled birding events every 3 months. We will also be documenting during non-birding events with the public like river floats. In addition we have several annual birding events like the High Trestle Hawk Watch and Christmas Bird Counts that will be included. If something out of the ordinary shows up we will have a pop-up program (sign-up to be notified).
Why: To stimulate the senses and feed the soul! Birds have beautiful coloration, euphonic songs and interesting behaviors. DCCB staff would like to create awareness in the community regarding these jewels that inhabit our landscape.

DCCB has a goal of finding 100 different bird species for 2019. We will continue to post and update our Big Year list on our website and Facebook pages. A Bird Watching Basics program will be offered on Sunday, January 27th (see below) to help people learn more about birding. Our first field event will be March 16th at Voas Nature Area near Minburn. Some binoculars and field guides will be available. Please register for these free programs.


Trumpeter Swan Soiree
Saturday, January 26, 10:30 a.m.—2 p.m. @ Walnut Woods State Park, Des Moines
This event celebrates North America’s largest waterfowl species. Programs will be given both indoors and outdoors with concurrent outdoor viewing and interpretive presentations of trumpeter swans and bald eagles given by Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Polk and Dallas County Conservation naturalists. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be provided. Hundreds of trumpeter swans winter at the Dale Maffitt Reservoir and surrounding area southwest of Des Moines, providing a rare opportunity to view good numbers of free flying trumpeter swans. 
Free, no registration required.

Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge Series
Bird Watching Basics

Sunday, January 27, 1—3 p.m. @ Forest Park Museum
Are you looking for a new and exciting way to connect with nature? Come learn the basics to identifying birds through field marks, behavior, and calls to help take the mystery out of backyard birds. We will be looking for live birds as well. Birds are pretty, usually abundant, and you never know when you might see something unexpected. A great hobby for people of all ages and a fun social activity that connects across generations. Be a part of the 2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge. 
Registration is required for this free program.


Star Gazing: Winter Constellations
Tuesday, February 5, 7:00—8:00 p.m. @ Kuehn Conservation Area
You don’t need a special event like the recent eclipse to go out into the nighttime wilds of Dallas County and enjoy the winter skies. This program is meant to introduce you to the starry wonders that wander over our heads every night of the winter. Come learn how to locate our winter constellations. Once you can find them, they can share with you their astronomical and cultural stories.
Registration is required for this free program.

Nature Play Day
Saturday, February 9, 1 - 3 p.m. @ Kuehn Conservation Area
Play in the snow (if we have any), collecting and building with pine cones, and navigating the mazes in the thicket are three of the options we might explore on the winter Nature Play Day. This lightly-led program is designed for familied and youthful people of any age! Dress to be outside, and feel free to arrive and depart as your own schedule dictates.
Free, no registration required.

Leopold Sand County Almanac Series

Essays: January Thaw & The Good Oak
Sunday, February 10, 2—4 p.m. @ Kuehn Conservation Area Program two of this 2019 series will invite participants to step inside the Leopold January  and February essays of A Sand County Almanac, and experience the “January Thaw” in the landscape at Kuehn. We will also put participants on the ends of a two person bucksaw to learn the story of  “The Good Oak” as the saw walks through the history written in its growth rings. The second phase of the Leopold Bench project, quote selection, will also be addressed at this gathering. Registration is required for this free program.

Owl Prowl
Tuesday, February 19, 7:00—8:00 p.m. @ Kuehn Conservation Area
Back in January, at the Conversation with an Owl program, you came to know the owls of Dallas County. At this program, we will walk out into the full moon night on the snowy trails of Kuehn’s woodlands, to talk to our local owls. Around a bonfire, we will review the common owls of Kuehn and their calls. Armed with this knowledge, we will cast our best Dr. Doolittle renditions of the calls into the night with hopes of having a wild friend answer our queries. Registration is required for this free program. Subject to weather cancellation.


Eagle Watch
Sunday, February 24, 12:00—4:00 p.m. @ Saylorville, Reservoir
At one point the idea that we would offer a program of bald eagle viewing would have seemed absurd in the face of the species’ pending extinction. This event is a testament that conservation can and does work. Come view what is possible when we choose to care for the wilds. The open waters below the dam at the Saylorville Reservoir create feeding opportunities that congregate central Iowa’s winter eagles and almost guarantee you a chance to view an eagle. This program is a joint effort between DCCB, Polk County Conservation and the Corps of Engineers. It provides the public with the thrill of viewing eagles in the Des Moines River Valley and educational programming to increase your understanding of these majestic birds. Specific viewing locations and programming schedules can be obtained at the Saylorville Visitor Center on the day of the event.


February & March

Maple Syruping
Two part program, dates tentative & weather dependent.
Tree Tapping, Saturday, February 9, 9:30—10:30 a.m. (tentative)
Boiling Off, Saturday, March 9, 9:00 a.m.—4 p.m. (tentative)
@ Sportsman Park, Dawson

No matter what the winter is like, spring always comes around. Trees that have been dormant respond to the increasing day length and warmer temperatures by sending sap flowing through their systems to nourish the tiny leaf and flower buds at stems’ ends. If we time the tapping right, we can siphon off some of the sweet sap of native maple trees and boil it down to make maple syrup.

The tree tapping program will involve going outside to drill small holes in select maple trees, installing taps and hooking up the collection system. Registration is required for this free program.

Boiling off is when we heat the collected sap so the excess water evaporates. Feel free to stop by to see and taste what’s going on, realizing that the tastiest results occur near the end. Register to keep informed of any potential date changes, or check on our webpage and Facebook.
Registration is required for these free programs.


Voas Stewardship Day
Saturday, March 2, 9:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. @ Voas Nature Area
Have you ever asked yourself if there was a good way to help wildlife? Not just temporarily picking up trash but something that had a long lasting impact. DCCB  holds stewardship days throughout the year. One focus for the last few seasons has been clearing oak savanna habitat that has been overgrown at Voas Nature Area, and this stewardship day will expand this work clearing the understory at this site. We will be using handsaws and loppers to clear honeysuckle, dogwood, and small trees. Come help us liberate these smothered “wolf” oaks.
Registration is required for this free program.

Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge Series
March 16, 8:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. @ Voas Nature Area
The first field event of our Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge will be March 16th at Voas Nature Area near Minburn. (For more information see page above.) A few binoculars and field guides will be available. 
Registration is required for this free program.

Leopold Sand County Almanac Series
Essays: The Geese Return, Burr Oak , & Sky Dance
with Spring Equinox Sunset
Wednesday, March 20, 6:30—8:30 p.m. @ Hanging Rock 
On this “equal day” of our calendar year we will combine our traditional celebration of the Equinox sunset with the Leopold’s stories. The songs of the spring’s migratory geese through the Raccoon River Valley will speak of “The Geese Return” essay. Standing under a savanna burr oak on the glacial knoll at Hanging Rock we can contemplate Leopold’s “Burr Oak” essay. Finally, we will cross our fingers, and hope that the woodcock will join our Equinox viewing as he did last year to bring the “Sky Dance” essay to life. 
Registration is required for this free program.

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