Anna Beal interns at Ames High/Pohl Memorial Prairie
Anna Beal interns at Ames High/Pohl Memorial Prairie Anna Beal interns at Ames High/Pohl Memorial Prairie © Erin Garity/TNC

Places We Protect

Ames High/Pohl Memorial Prairie


This tallgrass prairie is located within the city of Ames.

Ames High Prairie is one of the only areas in the state that tallgrass prairie remnants are found in the middle of a city. This makes Ames High Prairie/ Pohl Memorial preserve an ideal outdoor laboratory for Ames high school students. Although this prairie is owned by the local school district, the Conservancy has a 49-year lease.

Why You Should Visit

Ames High Prairie includes several tallgrass prairie openings on relatively dry ridges and slopes, separated by early successional woodland. Despite the small sizes, the prairie openings are high quality and feature more than 100 plant species. More than 100 species of birds and the rare fritillary and indigo duskywing butterflies have been observed here at the preserve.


Immediately to the west of the Ames High School within the city limits of Ames in Story County.


This preserve is a tallgrass prairie, with lush native grasslands that are commonly found in the midwestern areas with high rainfall and rich soils. They are dominated by big blue stem and Indian grass.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The land was purchased by the school district for use as a parking lot or football field, but the local community recognized the value of the tallgrass prairie remnant.  In 1970, the Ames Unified School District entered into a 49-year lease agreement with the Conservancy. The site was dedicated as a biological State Preserve in 1997 and was renamed the Richard W. Pohl Memorial at Ames High Prairie, in honor of the late Iowan grass taxonomist and prairie advocate.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

In addition to protecting a small but high-quality prairie remnant, the preserve provides an important educational resource to the schools, university and community. Land management includes the removal of woody vegetation that continues to encroach on the prairie remnants.

What to See: Plants

There are more than 100 plant species at Ames High Prairie, including: alum root, big bluestem, blue-eyed grass, cream wild indigo, downy gentian, giant St. John's wort, ground plum, lead plant, little bluestem, pale coneflower, prairie dandelion, prairie dropseed, prairie Indian plantain, purple prairie clover, rough blazing star, sideoats grama, silky aster, sky-blue aster, thimbleweed and white wild indigo

What to See: Animals

More than 100 species of birds have been observed here, including the cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, American robin and mourning dove. You can also find rare regal fritillary and monarch butterflies at Ames High Prairie. Raccoons and eastern cottontails are here, too.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines