Iowa once supported more than 30 million acres of prairie. Today less than one-tenth of 1 percent of those grasslands remain, and those remnants face development pressure. Browns’ Prairie is an important tract in one of the largest areas of native grassland left in the state. Located within more then 3,000 contiguous acres of prairie in the Little Sioux Valley region, the property provides habitat for wildflowers, butterflies and grassland nesting birds.
Why You Should Visit
This particular tract of land was historically pastured, but much of the native grass has survived. After a year of rest, the re-growth of prairie grasses and flowers is spectacular. A special feature of the tract is a small, crystal-clear, spring-fed steam that meanders through it.
In the Glacial Hills area, north of Storm Lake and southwest of Spencer near the Little Sioux River Valley
Browns' Prairie is level to steeply rolling. Care should be exercised by the elderly and children. This area is extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter without trees to break the wind or sun. Cattle grazing is used to manage native grasses so please exercise caution when visiting the area.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
This 188-acre tract of native prairie is within one of the largest complexes of remnant prairie left in Iowa. A rough estimate is that 3,000 to 5,000 contiguous acres of prairie remain within the area and time is running out for prairie restoration.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Conservancy scientists are hopeful that preservation of larger, connected tracts of natural prairie will lead to the preservation not only of threatened native wild flowers and grasses, but also of the bird, mammal, insect and reptile communities, which require substantial areas of such habitat to maintain genetic strength and to assure the survival of their species.
What to See: Plants
Grasses on this prairie include: little bluestem grass, porcupine grass and side-oats gramma. Flowers include: pale purple coneflower, prairie violets, pasque flower and grey headed coneflower.
What to See: Animals
Birds on the Brown's Prairie include: Bobolinks, grasshopper sparrows, meadowlarks, and kingfishers often fishing in the prairie streams during the winter.