Places We Protect

Clausen’s Cove


along the shoreline of Clear Lake in northern Iowa.
Clausen's Cove Preserve along the shoreline of Clear Lake in northern Iowa. © Tim Ackarman/TNC

Clausen’s Cove is located on the shoreline of Clear Lake in northern Iowa.



Clausen’s Cove is one man’s tribute to how things once were and how he thought the future should look. The late Max Clausen never lived on the 250-acre parcel along the shore of Clear Lake that now bears his name. Yet the farm had been in his family since 1891 and Mr. Clausen spent much of his childhood happily exploring the property.

So how did it come to be a Nature Conservancy preserve?

As Mr. Clausen said at the time of his gift: “I wanted to preserve what I had. Anyone would have sold by now. I saw what they did to the rest of the lake and wanted this property to stay in its natural state. There is no other place in Clear Lake where you can see grassland, farmland, forest and lake in one view—an unspoiled world that I wouldn’t sell for any price."

Very valuable in its own right, Clausen’s Cove proved to be more valuable than anticipated when it became the centerpiece of a large conservation partnership two years after its protection.

The Conservancy recently partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board, Vermeer Charitable Foundation and Kossuth County Pheasants Forever to successfully apply for a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. To receive the $1 million grant for conservation in northwest Iowa’s prairie pothole region, partners needed to provide $2 million in matching funds. The value of Clausen’s Cove, located in the easternmost portion of the prairie pothole region, provided more than $1.6 million of the $2 million needed.

Why You Should Visit

Although there are no trails (at Mr. Clausen’s request) the preserve offers a tremendous vista of Clear Lake and is a great place to anchor a boat, go for a swim or simply enjoy its unspoiled beauty.


Clausen’s Cove is located along the shore of Clear Lake, Iowa’s third largest natural lake. The nearest town is Ventura, Iowa.


The cove is considered a Northern Tall grass Prairie. Along the lake there are dunes and a sedge meadow. A significant portion of the parcel is still in agricultural production and will remain so for the near future.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Nature Conservancy’s Clausen Cove Preserve protects some of the last undeveloped shoreline on Clear Lake. It adds to the value of neighboring protected lands in terms of migratory bird and pollinator habitat, protection of water quality and shoreline erosion of Clear Lake.



Explore our work in this region

What to See: Plants

The sedge meadow is a great place to find native plants, including spiked lobelia; great blue lobelia, Asclepias, Missouri goldenrod and spotted forget-me-nots.

What to See: Animals

Clear Lake is a fisherman’s dream with walleyes, muskie, northern pike, perch, white and yellow bass, bullheads and catfish. Area birds include the rare sand hill cranes, Pacific loons and thrushes.

Visitation Guidelines

Please download our preserve visitation guidelines here.