Blog module icon

Naturally Speaking with Steve Lekwa

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

Aug 19

Big Beautiful Swallowtails

Posted on August 19, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Erica Place

Late summer is the peak of butterfly season. Although we've seen incredible numbers of painted ladies this summer, populations of most other species are nothing like they used to be. Thankfully, it's still possible to see at least a few of Iowa's biggest, most beautiful butterflies, the swallowtails. They rival in size and spectacular beauty any of the tropical butterflies that can be seen at the Reiman Gardens butterfly exhibit. Three kinds of swallowtails are native here, and a couple more may occasionally wander this far north. They typically have at least two generations during an Iowa summer with adults living about two weeks. They do not migrate and winter over as pupae inside a chrysalis. Today's column features the three Iowa species of swallowtail butterflies.

Continue Reading...

Aug 12

Happy 40th Birthday INHF

Posted on August 12, 2019 at 10:49 AM by Erica Place

It's hard to believe that it was over 40 years ago when Governor Bob Ray and DNR Planner Gerry Schnepf put their heads together to plan a better means of protecting Iowa's precious natural heritage. They clearly recognized that the wheels of government often moved too slowly, restricted as it was to annual budget cycles, to capture opportunities to protect the best remnants of Iowa's natural communities. They saw, as well, that some smaller agencies like county conservation boards lacked the necessary skills and experience to tackle complex land projects. In other cases, people just preferred to work with a private entity rather than government. Other key players were brought on board that included some of the state's top leaders in business and industry of that time. They came up with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, a private land trust that could work equally well with private individuals, government agencies, and organizations in creative ways that government often could not. Some of those conservation leaders became the first board of directors for the foundation, Gerry soon left the DNR to become the foundation's first president.

Continue Reading...

Aug 06

The Little Green Boat

Posted on August 6, 2019 at 8:43 AM by Erica Place

The Skunk River flowed through our acreage south of Story City. It offered lots of interesting and fun things to do all four seasons of the year. We caught and ate fish from it, though some were pretty small and boney. We trapped muskrats and learned to skin them in late fall and early winter. We skated on it in winter; sometimes for several miles when we were older. We built dams out of stones and little fish holding pens for minnows we caught during low flow periods of the summer. Its water was one of our primary escapes from the heat of summer long before our house became air conditioned.

Continue Reading...