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Naturally Speaking with Steve Lekwa

An insightful and informed view on wildlife and the environment from former Story County Conservation Director Steve Lekwa.

Oct 19

Be Prepared

Posted on October 19, 2020 at 10:05 AM by Erica Place

I have been involved with Scouting in one way or another most of my life. The Scout’s moto is “be prepared”. It’s good advice for anyone in any situation, indoors or out. It’s also easy to forget or overlook. It takes awareness and conscious effort to always be prepared. Even small decisions made with little thought can have serious; even life-threatening consequences. Being prepared involves thorough planning, but it’s more than that. It’s a state of mind that helps a person be more alert and observant. Even the best plans can’t always prepare us for the unexpected. Situations can change in a second.

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Oct 12

Beavers Will Be Busy

Posted on October 12, 2020 at 8:41 AM by Erica Place

The wind has shifted into the east as I write on October 10. That often indicates that some precipitation is on the way. We could sure use it! Smaller streams in the area have dried up, and larger ones haven’t seen flow rates so low in a long time. Fish have had to retreat to the few deeper holes that retain some water, and critters that like to eat fish know where those holes are. Aquatic life may find additional refuge during the drought if a beaver colony is in their area, though. Beavers don’t often build dams when flow rates are high, but they are busy building them this fall.

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Oct 05

Human Time Isn’t Forest Time

Posted on October 5, 2020 at 9:47 AM by Erica Place

Fast-growing trees tend to have shorter lives than slow-growing ones, but even some fast-growing flood plain trees can live well beyond 100 years. Oaks on valley walls and ridge lines are capable of living well beyond the 150 years that have passed since most of them were young trees. Few of our old trees exceed 150 years by much. Virtually all of Iowa’s woodlands were heavily cut over during the mid-to-late 1800s when farms, towns, and railroads were being built. Cleared floodplain forest became our area’s first farm fields years before prairie sod began to be broken between the potholes of poorly drained uplands beyond the river valley. Coal and pre-cut lumber from elsewhere weren’t available in the early decades of settlement. Most trees large enough to provide building material and fuel were cut. The first mill at the Soper’s Mill site was a sawmill. Early photos of that area show few trees remaining.

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