Crane Meadows: 300+ Acres of Potential

Published 5/17/2023 9:31:16 AM

May 17, 2023 (Washington Township, Iowa) -- This spring, Polk Count Conservation is celebrating the renewed life sprouting up on the north end of its largest park - Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. Crane Meadows is a 348 acre parcel of land that was recently secured by the conservation and recreation organization. Prior to purchasing the land, many private and public partners invested their time and expertise into re-wilding terrain that sits within the area watershed and was prone to flooding.

Since 2019 Polk County Conservation and its partners have constructed, restored or planted:

  • 3 Skunk River oxbows
  • 7 pothole wetlands
  • 27 acres oak savanna
  • 86 acres prairie planted

And the work is not yet complete. In 2023 and 2024, the county's skilled natural resource technicians will be working the land to plant another 120 acres with native prairie seeds, as well as add several more wetland basins.

In total Crane Meadows' timber and prairie land has the potential to capture at least 680,000 pounds of carbon each year, while the oxbows and wetlands have the potential to remove more than 28,000 pounds of nitrate from the groundwater each year. While not perfect measures of impact, these data points illustrate the continuing effort to track progress against naturally reducing green house gas emissions and improving water quality. 

Often more inspiring for the average park visitor is the potential impact restored lands can have on wildlife! In the next few years Crane Meadows will develop into prime habitat for many native pollinators, waterfowl, and invertebrates, creating a thriving ecosystems.

This restoration work would not have been possible without the contributions of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants Forever, Iowa Audubon, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Each organization provided both financial resources and time toward purchasing and restoring Crane Meadows. It's these public-private partnerships that create the opportunity to work quickly and with the power of collective expertise. 


Crane Meadows in August 2021 after construction of the wetlands.

Crane Meadows in August 2021 after construction of the wetlands.

Crane Meadows in summer 2022 after native prairie seeds were planted.

Showing its lush green! Crane Meadows in July 2022 after native prairie seeds were planted around the wetlands.