One Man and a Chainsaw: A Journey in Faith and Prairie Restoration

Patrick Swanson has been restoring a prairie remnant in the Loess Hills of western Iowa. This post is a synopsis of the book he recently published about that experience, with pictures of one hillside on his Harrison County land throughout the seasons. – promoted by Laura Belin

Readers of Bleeding Heartland have seen many fine articles and commentary on environmental issues and, most particularly wildflowers, published on this site over the years. One might wonder where passion for nature, natural areas, and their denizens comes from.

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Events coming up during the next two weeks

Last month was so busy that I didn’t manage to post any event calendars here, but I am back on duty now. The highlight of this month for Democrats is the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Saturday, November 21, featuring Vice President Joe Biden. You can buy tickets online.

Please note that November 10 is the deadline for public comments to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources about protecting our Outstanding Iowa Waters. The Farm Bureau is mobilizing public comments against these regulations. The DNR needs to hear from Iowans committed to preserving our highest-quality waterways. Click here for background and an easy to use comment form.

State Senator Staci Appel will officially announce her re-election campaign on November 12, and I’ve posted details about a fundraiser for her campaign below the fold. Appel’s Republican opponent, State Representative Kent Sorenson, is already gearing up for next year’s election. He spent the weekend in Texas attending the WallBuilders ProFamily Legislators Conference. Here’s some background on David Barton’s vision for America, chock full of Biblical interpretations supporting right-wing public policies. Barton spoke to the Iowa Christian Alliance not long ago (click that link to watch videos). Former presidential candidate Ron Paul is headlining a fundraiser for Sorenson on November 14, by the way.

Many more event details are after the jump. As always, please post a comment about anything I’ve left out, or send me an e-mail (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com).

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Events coming up this week

I heard there was a fantastic turnout over the weekend at Capital City Pridefest. If you were there, share your stories and impressions in this thread. We didn’t get downtown–instead, we hit the Blank Park Zoo on Saturday (loved the “Birdman” visiting show). We enjoyed “Sample Sunday” at three of my favorite farms the next day. As a bonus, I helped a turtle cross a country road–I was afraid it would get hit by a car if we left it to creep along.

After the jump I’ve posted details about a bunch of events coming up this week, including LGBT Pride events in Omaha, Iowa City and Davenport this weekend.

I want to highlight the fundraiser for Whiterock Conservancy in Coon Rapids on June 18. It’s a great cause, and whether or not you can come on Thursday, I highly recommend scheduling a visit if you’ve never seen the conservancy.

Democratic politicians and candidates, please let me know about any noteworthy events (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com), so I can include them on my weekly calendars. For instance, State Representative Elesha Gayman is having a fundraiser in Des Moines on June 16.

I learned recently that Bruce Stone is hosting a new liberal talk radio show in Des Moines; it airs weekdays from 6 to 7 pm on Macsworldlive.com. Here’s the link for tuning in live, and here is the link for the archive of programs.  

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The joy of letting native plants take over your yard

Richard Doak wrote a great piece in last Sunday’s Des Moines Register urging readers to “plant the seeds of a more eco-thoughtful Iowa.” Seeding native plants along roadsides has helped the state Department of Transportation save money and labor while user fewer chemicals.

Highway officials cite a long list of other benefits, such as controlling blowing snow, improving air quality, reducing erosion, filtering pollutants and providing wildlife habitat. They’re even said to improve safety by reducing the effects of highway hypnosis, delineating upcoming curves and screening headlight glare.

Doak wants to see much more native landscaping in Iowa:

To set the example, let’s have every school, every courthouse, every park, every hospital, every library set aside at least a patch of space for wild indigo, prairie sage, golden Alexanders, blackeyed Susan, pale-purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, prairie larkspur, shooting star, compass plant, partridge pea, spiderwort, ironweed, blazing star, smooth blue aster or any of hundreds of other flowering plants that were native to the tallgrass prairie. […]

It’s estimated that up to one-third of residential water use goes to lawn watering, and lawn mowing uses 800 million gallons of gasoline per year, including 17 million gallons spilled while refueling. Some 5 percent of air pollution is attributed to lawn mowers.

Native plants require no fertilizer or herbicide, no watering and only enough mowing to mimic the effects of the occasional wildfires that kept the prairie clean of trees.

Interest in reducing pollution and conserving water and energy should be reason enough to switch to native landscaping.

About ten years ago, our family stopped trying to grow a grassy lawn in our shady yard. After the jump I’ve listed some of the benefits of going native.

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