News & Upcoming Events

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For more information see the recent newsletter:

Great American Trail 

includes Dallas County trails as a portion of the route linking Washington D.C. to Washington State. Full story here.


Great American Trail infographic

DCCB Selfie Stations
Look for new Selfie Stations at many of Iowa’s most iconic nature areas including along the Raccoon River Valley Trail near Forest Park Museum and at Hanging Rock near Redfield. Snap a photo and share it on our Facebook and Instagram pages. #ThisIsIowa #MyCountyParks #99Parks #DCCB #DallasCCB



Pop Up Programs

Animal Feedings
Most Mondays, 10:00 a.m. No Feeding June 24th. 
Forest Park Museum
Free but call ahead to confirm

Join us for a chance to see our snake collection eat their tasty weekly meal and learn about the other Dallas County critters in our live collection. These underappreciated critters play important roles in our ecosystems and have some “superpowers” to share.

Butterfly Surveys
Forest Park Museum
To occur on warm (70 + degrees), sunny, calm days.

Walk along with a naturalist to see, identify and count butterflies along a dedicated 1.5-mile survey route that starts and ends at Forest Park Museum. In 2018, the survey was completed 16 times between May 16 and September 4, with 493butterflies from 19 different species being counted. Call to learn more about voluntary training programs or to be put on the contact list for 
this free, recurring volunteer opportunity.

June 2019

Adult Wilderness Backpacking Trek 2020: Try the Wilds on for Size
Tuesday, June 18, 7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Kuehn Conservation Area, Earlham
Dallas County residents seeking a taste of the wilds, the summer of 2020 is your year! Dallas County Conservation Board will host its third Adult Wilderness Backpacking Trek to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness of north-central Idaho. Can you picture yourself wild? Accept this invitation and venture with DCCB to the largest federally designated Wilderness in the lower 48 states. Join us at Kuehn Conservation Area, Tuesday, June 18, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., for the second in a series of informational meetings, designed to invite you to grow wild with DCCB in 2020.

We are extending this invitation to any adults in Dallas County with an openness and desire to front the rigors, challenges, and rewards of wilderness travel and explore the role of nature and wildness in their lives. There is not prerequisite for this trek. Trek participants will undergo a series of workshops teaching them wilderness backpacking skills, Leave No Trace camping techniques, map and compass navigational skills, while working to fostering an awareness and understanding of Wilderness values, ethics, history and ecology. Additionally, DCCB will loan participants on the trek our backcountry camping gear, to reduce the monetary stress of outfitting your initial wilderness trek.

At this Try the Wilds on for Size program, you will have a chance to set up a backpacking tent, inflate a sleeping pad, roll out a sleeping bag and climb inside. We will light a camp stove and prepare a couple backpackers’ dehydrated meals so you can sample the cuisine of the trek. We will hang a bear bag. DCCB’s array of backpacks will be presented and you will be invited to size one up, and throw it on your back. We will lay out a topographic map of our trek’s trail and introduce you to compass skills utilized to navigate in the wilds. It is the goal of this meeting to address as many logistical questions related to a wilderness backpacking trek as we can to help you make your decision as you consider joining us on the 2020 trek. Try the wilds on for size and explore the notion that you might join DCCB in the summer of 2020, venturing to the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, to grow wild. 

Solstice, Stars, and Sleepout!
Friday, June 21, 7:00 p.m.—Saturday, June 22, 8:00 a.m. 
Hanging Rock Park, Redfield
Join us for a night to remember as we combine all the best in this summertime special. 
Pre-registration is required. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Come for any part or the entire program. Program is weather dependent. Participants are responsible for providing their own tents, camping gear and food.


Schedule: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.  We’ll create our camp. Bring your tents and gear and set up in a special area. (Tent camping ONLY allowed this one night ONLY.)
8:00 – 9:30 p.m.  Join a group to watch the solstice sunset at the hilltop rock clock, then hike down to the river, looking for fireflies and bats, listening for owls and so much more.
9:30 p.m. – ? Bring a blanket to lay on and head out to the open field for stargazing – the moon won’t rise until after 11!
4:30 a.m. – Get up early to watch the solstice sunrise at the rock clock on top of the hill before breaking camp and going home for breakfast.
8:00 a.m. – Campsites must be taken down and packed.


70th Anniversary– Sand County Almanac / Leopold Series
Plant Birthdays– Buffalo Wallows Re-Story-A–Tion Project

NEW DATE Thursday, June 27, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Kuehn Conservation Area

Continuing DCCB’s series of programs celebrating the 70th anniversary of Leopold’s– A Sand County Almanac, we invite you to help us in an ecosystem restoration, better put– Re-Story-A-Tion, project. Join us to reflect on Leopold’s June and July Almanac essays, and to become part of the Buffalo Wallows Project. The Buffalo Wallows Project is an effort to re-wild the prairies around the arena at Kuehn. These prairies represent a mid-1980s restoration effort. Much has been learned in the ensuing 40 years. Your participation in this project will put you on the frontline of prairie ecosystem restoration as we attempt to inject a number of prairie forbs, flowering plants, species into our 80s prairie. If being part of a re-wilding effort, by personally putting young prairie forb plants into the soil sounds like fun, then join us as we Re-Story the prairie at Kuehn.

July 2019

Iowa Native Bees
Saturday, July 20, 1:30 p.m.—3:00 p.m.
Forest Park Museum

Preregistration is required for this free program.
Native bees are the unsung, often unnoticed and unfortunately, increasingly rare heroes of the pollination process. Join Lynne Campbell from ISU Extension to learn more about these vital insects, where to find them, how to identify some, and simple things you can do to attract and provide housing for them. 

River Float
July date to be determined
Preregistration is required

Call to be added to the list of interested paddlers. This will be a fun day and also a service day cleaning up a section of water trail. This program is weather dependent. 

Pioneer Day
Wednesday, July 24, 10:30 a.m.—12:30 p.m.
Forest Park Museum
Pre-registration is appreciated

Get ready to rustle up our pushcart and little red covered wagons as you recreate some aspects of hitting the Pioneer Trail! There will be family friendly activities throughout the museum and grounds, and you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy. Some activities are weather dependent.

August 2019

70th Anniversary– Sand County Almanac / Leopold Series
Leopold’s Green Fire documentary & Stargazing

Saturday, August 3 or 24, 9:00 p.m.—???
Kuehn Conservation Area 

One of Aldo Leopold’s seminal essays in A Sand County Almanac, is titled “Thinking Like a Mountain”.  It retells the story of a young Leopold, seeing for the first time, the fierce green fire, burning in the eye of an old wolf as it died. Participants in this program will be asked to recall their own personal viewing of the green fire, and to examine what can be learned by “thinking like a mountain”.  Following this discussion, we will present DCCB’s version of the old-time drive in movie. We will put up a large screen in the arena in Kuehn’s prairie, turn on the projector, dish up some popcorn, and invite you to watch the documentary film of Leopold’s writings, titled Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time.  After the film, we will shut down the “drive-in”, turn out the lights and you are invited to view the summertime constellations playing overhead. Limited camping is available at Keuhn Conservation Area.

Nature Play Day
Wednesday, August 14, 10:00 a.m.—12:00 p.m. 
Forest Park Museum
Free, no registration required. 
Sticks are wonderful, useful, cheap, fun, natural play things!  From playing Pooh sticks at the bridge, pick-up sticks in the yard, creating your own stick fort in the forest, or who knows what else – sticks are it! Bring out kids of all ages for a morning of free fun!  


September 2019

Monarch Tagging
Weeks of Sept. 9,  Sept. 16 and Sept. 23 
Kuehn & Voas Conservation Areas
Preregistration required

Upon registering for this program we will obtain your name and contact information so that when the big push of migrating monarchs move south through Dallas County we will be able to invite you to our tagging program. Unlike past years, we will not try to guess at the best date for this natural miracle. Instead, this year we will simply rejoice in the date that the monarch’s migration moves through, and contact our registered wild friends to join us at Kuehn or Voas. Past tagging programs have targeted weekday early evening and weekend mornings to connect migrating monarchs and registered taggers. The program will share of the mysteries of this migration and engage you in the tagging research project of the Monarch Watch Project. Net in hand, you will wander the prairies of Kuehn and Voas, capture a monarch, record the field data, tag and release a miracle.

Prairie Awakening—Prairie Awoke Celebration: 
Much can be learned while watching children at play

Saturday, September  7, 3:00 p.m.—9:00 p.m. 
Kuehn Conservation Area

The theme of Prairie Awakening-Prairie Awoke 2019 is youth. At this year’s Celebration, the Meskwaki Nation will be featured. A Youth Drum, along with a contingency of youth dancers, will share the story of the Meskwaki Nation through their drumming, song, and dance. DCCB will unveil its “Buffalo Wallows” project, led by local youth. Dallas Chief Eagle will again share his messages through a Hoop Dance presentation and a bonfire audience participation Hoop Dance. A rehabilitated raptor, and tagged migrating monarchs will be released from the Celebration’s arena. Several local traditional drums will bring the drum and songs to the arena with dancers in regalia and more opportunities for you to join in the celebration with your dance. As traditions direct, we will sit together, in the tallgrass prairie arena at Kuehn. Bring your lawn chair for seating. The event is free. Concessions will be available on site. Please see page 10 of this newsletter for a full write up.

Hummingbird Happening
Sunday, September 8, 1:00 p.m.—4:00 p.m.
Kuehn Conservation Area
Pre-registration required for this free program 
(weather dependent) 

Every year as the hummingbirds migrate south for the winter, we see an amazing number of them in the lower prairie tracts at Kuehn. Join us this year as we marvel at their color and aerial dexterity, and try to entice them to come to hand-held feeders! 

Leopold Series Events
(throughout the year)

Sand County Almanac 70th Anniversary Sand Co. Almanac
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 information listed above. 

2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge
(throughout the year)

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. Our first field event will be March 30th at Voas Nature Area near Minburn. Some binoculars and field guides will be available. Please register for these free programs.



2019 Dallas County Big Year Birding Challenge Highlights
USFWS EABL natdiglib_7509_large
Eastern Bluebird (USFWS photo) 

Osprey have returned to Waukee/West Des Moines near Woodland Hills Elementary School.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds at Voas. 

2019 Big Year Species List



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