A new woods and nature preserve in central Story County will be open to the public at the end of May.
On Sunday, May 27, the public is invited to the dedication of the Hertz Family Woods and Nature Preserve. The preserve is located at 25401 Country Club Road, just south of Nevada. A short program will begin at 1:30 p.m., followed by a nature hike and light refreshments. No RSVP is necessary to attend the May 27 dedication; please dress for the weather.
The property includes 21.5 acres of wooded terrain that has not been cropped or grazed since Carl and Marjory Hertz acquired the property in 1951. Family members have found respite on the property; enjoyed, worked, cared for and improved the land. The Hertzes have culled invasive species and restored a portion to native prairie with help from Iowa prairie expert Carl Kurtz. According to Steve Lekwa, retired Story County Conservation director, the area is one of the most diverse woods in central Iowa.
Carl and Marjory purchased their original family farm in 1942 and founded Hertz Farm Management in 1946, in which family members are still involved. Marjory often visited the woodland, where she hiked and enjoyed wildflowers even into her 90s, hunting to find her favorite wild orchids. Marjory, Carl and the Hertz family preserved the woodland with the intentions of providing a site for public enjoyment. The woods are being donated in memory of Carl and Marjory Hertz and their son, C. Douglas Hertz.
The land was donated to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. INHF has placed deed restrictions on the land that will permanently protect its natural beauty. INHF will transfer the woodland to the Story County Conservation Board. The preserve’s proximity to the Nevada schools makes it accessible for outdoor education classes to explore. It is also located along the proposed extension of the Indian Creek Greenbelt Trail.
“Hertz Family Woods and Nature Preserve is a wonderful showcase of the Hertz family’s conservation ethic, civic commitment, and, most importantly, their desire to share this special piece of Iowa nature with generations to come,” Story County Conservation Director Michael Cox said.
The Hertz family has made significant investments to develop limited amenities, including a one-mile trail around the woodland and a parking lot. Future plans include rock benches and interpretive signage.
“This is an amazing example of a family creating – then donating – a ‘turn-key’ public area as a labor of love over many years,” said Mark C. Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. “We’ve helped hundreds of landowners protect or transfer their land for conservation, yet I’ve seldom seen private landowners go to so much effort to create a public space that’s ready to share. We have worked with the Hertz family on many projects over the years and are honored to help them protect this special place.”
Funds for improvements at the new preserve have come from the Hertz Family, memorials given in remembrance of Marjory, Carl, and C. Douglas Hertz, and limestone donation from Martin Marietta Aggregates.
For more information about this project, contact Story County Conservation Special Projects Ranger Carol Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-232-2516.
INHF is a statewide nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and other partners to protect and restore Iowa’s land, water, and wildlife. Some past INHF and Story County Conservation partnership projects include the Doolittle Prairie addition, Jennett Heritage Area, Dakins Lake expansion, and the Heart of Iowa Nature Trail.
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Story County Conservation
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation