Williams Prairie

Williams Prairie was dedicated as a state preserve in 1976.

Williams Prairie is a good example of a wet prairie and sand prairie that includes many sedge grasses. This interesting combination makes it biologically important.

Why You Should Visit 
Williams Prairie is shallow lowland that features excellent examples of sedge meadow and wet prairie, dominated by sedges, bluejoint grass, slough grass and big bluestem. The sandy knoll was disturbed in the past, but still contains a good representation of mesic-dry prairie species.

Johnson County, northwest of Iowa City 

21 acres

This preserve is a wet sedge meadow prairie, which occurs in soils saturated by surface water and is dominated by sedge species. It consists primarily of a shallow lowland that is wet most of the time, and a sandy knoll in the southeastern portion of the preserve.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
Williams Prairie was deeded to the Conservancy in 1973, and was dedicated as a biological State Preserve in 1976. John Williams bought the area in the early 1900s and used it as a hayfield. It was rediscovered by botanists from the University of Iowa in the 1960s.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
Prescribed fire and cutting of invading woody plants are management techniques used by the Conservancy to maintain a healthy and diverse prairie system.

Recent Events
In Spring 2014, the Conservancy transferred full ownership of the preserve to the Johnson County Conservation Board (JCCB).

JCCB owns and manages nearby FW Kent Park for recreation and outdoor education purposes and thus is in an excellent position to effectively manage Williams Prairie. Over the years they have made extensive efforts to restore native prairie using fire and prairie seed collected within the park. FW Kent Park is located just 6 miles from Williams Prairie, and Conservancy crews have worked together with JCCB crews to cut brush from the prairie.

We are excited to announce this agreement with JCCB to manage Williams Prairie.

What to See: Plants
Over 320 species of vascular plants and eight bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) have been reported from the site. Rare plants include Virginia bunch-flower, northern Adder’s tongue, bluejoint grass and cord grass, New Jersey tea and swamp milkweed.

What to See: Animals
Williams Prairie supports many species of nesting birds, including the red-winged blackbird and the short-eared owl. The preserve is also home to the ornate box turtle, dicksissel and meadowlarks.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines


From I-80:
Take exit 230

Travel north 4 miles on County W38 (Blackhawk Ave. NW) through Oxford (where it becomes State Highway 109) to U.S. Highway 6 junction

Continue north on Old Highway 6 NW for about 0.7 miles and bear right onto Cemetery Road NW (becomes County F28)

Go north another 0.8 miles to Grabin Road NW, and turn left (west)

Proceed approximately 1.1 miles to Blackhawk Ave. NW and turn right

From I-380:

Take exit 4

Travel west about 7.7 miles on County F28 to Cemetery Road NW junction

Continue straight ahead (west) on Grabin Road NW, following the direction above to the preserve.

The preserve will be located about 200 yards up on the right (east) side of the road.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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