Schmitz Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Site
Last month, the “Schmitz” AML reclamation site was featured in the Ottumwa Courier. Pathfinders RC&D is a partner on the project that is busy reclaiming the 55-acres of abandoned mine land in Wapello County. The Schmitz site was a Priority 1 risk, meaning that it needed immediate attention because the hazardous conditions of its steep drop off, piles of debris and highly acidic soil and water were putting people, animals, and nearby roads and houses at risk.
Work began last fall and after the bulldozing work of moving the spoil piles and re-grading the site is completed, the project team will focus on lowering the soil acidity and then seeding the land. Reclamation work is not a cheap undertaking, with most projects costing $18,000- $24,000 per acre to reclaim. This cost is carried by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Abandoned Mine Land Program with assistance from partners such as Pathfinders, Wapello County SWCD, and the Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining. One unique aspect of the Schmitz site is that part of the acreage is located in a natural flood plain and, post reclamation, that part will remain as a wetland.
To learn more about the 40+ AML projects Pathfinders has partnered on, visit our website.You can read the full article here.
Monarch Final Report
Pathfinders recently completed a monarch butterfly project funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The focus was on collaborating within the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to plant monarch habitat on privately owned, marginal, lands in Iowa and host educational field days. During the two years of the project, 5,241.78 acres of monarch habitat were successfully planted. There were also six outreach events which were attended by 340 people. We were pleased to complete the project having exceeded the target number of planted acres and target number of event attendees.
Why the need to plant monarch habitat? The monarch butterfly’s population has decreased by nearly 80 percent in the last twenty years. They continue to face many challenges including the loss of milkweed and nectar plant habitat in its spring and summer breeding ranges. Female monarchs only lay their eggs on milkweed plants, and the hatched caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed. As pollinators, monarch butterflies are important to Iowa agriculture, landowners and citizens.
This work was made possible with the collaboration of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, four Division of Soil Conservation and Water Quality, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, and Iowa Learning Farms.
Grass-fed Beef Project Update
Pathfinders is hard at work in the final year of its Grass-fed Beef Project. The project, funded by a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, focuses on expanding markets for grass-fed beef as a means for promoting grazing and the improved soil health and water quality that it facilitates.
Projects currently in the works:
- SE Iowa Producer Website Survey- We are conducting an online survey to provide valuable feedback for one of our producer partners on how to better market their beef online. Special thanks to everyone who filled out our survey- we’ve had over 80 respondents! Survey results are being compiled into a report that will be available at https://pathfindersrcd.org/grass-fed-beef/ upon completion.
- Consumer Awareness Campaign- May is National Beef Month and this year we are organizing a consumer awareness campaign in local grocery stores carrying grass-fed beef. We are currently working on an educational info graphic – keep your eyes out in the grocery store!
Save the Date! The 5th Annual Byway Museum Crawl is June 16th
Mark your calendars now for the Historic Hills Scenic Byway’s 5th
Annual Museum Crawl! On Saturday, June 16th
, explore the western tip of the Byway and learn some of our rural Iowan history!
This year, the four museums featured will be:
- The Monroe County Historical Society Museum in Albia
- The Wabash Depot Museum Complex in Moravia
- The Appanoose County Historical & Coal Mining Museum in Centerville
- The Moulton Historical Society Museum in Moulton