Palo Alto County Conservation Areas:
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Basswood Recreation Area, 1 mile west of Emmetsburg
Bluestem Meadow Wildlife Area, 2 miles west of Emmetsburg
Brushy Bayou Wildlife Area, 5 miles SE of Emmetsburg
Burns Prairie, 5 miles west of Emmetsburg
Duhigg Park, 2 miles NE of Emmetsburg
Gappa’s Point, NE side of Emmetsburg
Glacial Ridge Wildlife Area, 3 miles NE of Aryshire
Hauschen Wildlife Area, 5 miles west of Emmetsburg
Huston Prairie, 3 miles north of Ruthven
Kettlehole Prairie, 2 miles SW of Emmetsburg
Larson Prairie, 3 miles SW of Ayrshire
Little-Bit-of-Prairie, 2.5 miles SE of Ruthven
Lost Island-Huston Park, 3 miles north of Ruthven
Mulroney Recreation Area, 2 miles SW of Rodman
Pheasant Run Wildlife Area, 2 miles SW of Rodman
Plantation Wildlife Area, 8.25 miles north of West Bend
Prairie Gold Wildlife Area, 2.5 miles NW of Emmetsburg
River Runner Access, 4 miles SW of West Bend
Riverview Wildlife Area, 2 miles south of Graettinger
Roads End Prairie, 3 miles NW of Emmetsburg
Robert Mulroney Recreation Area, 2.5 miles NW of Emmetsburg
Rossiter Wildlife Area, 2.5 miles north of Ruthven
Salton Park, 3.5 miles west of Ayrshire
Sportsman Recreation Area, 2.25 miles north of Cylinder
Telford Prairie, 2 miles NE of Ayrshire
Watson Heritage Area, 1 miles SW of Emmetsburg
West Bend Wildlife Area, 5 miles SW of West Bend (WILDLIFE REFUGE – NO HUNTING)
West Fork Wetlands, 3 miles west of West Bend
Whitetail Flats Wildlife Area, 3.5 miles south of Emmetsburg
Basswood Recreation Area
The 69 acre tract, located just north and east of Hwy 18 river bridge west of Emmetsburg, partially borders the West Des Moines River. Most of Basswood is floodplain timber, with silver maple, cottonwood, willow and basswood trees dominating. Replanted prairie, a food plot, and two one acre wetlands provide diversity for wildlife. Deer, woodducks, squirrel, pheasant, raccoon, fox, beaver, mink, and a variety of songbirds including cardinals are all common at Basswood. Facilities include picnic shelters, pit restrooms, and a sledding hill at the north end. Picnic tables and fire rings have also been added to the south end. Trails at Basswood make a figure 8 pattern with two loops. The south loop is mostly mixed prairie surrounded by trees with the river running along the west side. The distance of the south loop is .6 mile. The north loop is mostly woodland with the river running along the west side. The distance of the north loop is .7 mile. Trails are excellent for hiking or skiing. Enjoy fishing and hunting (wetland & upland) at Basswood. Boat ramp gives access to West Fork of the Des Moines River.
Bluestem Meadow Wildlife Area
This 80 acre wildlife area is found just south of 370th Street west of Emmetsburg. 80 acres
includes two restored wetlands as well as restored prairie.
This 75 acre river timber is located four miles southeast of Emmetsburg. This area provides
habitat for wood ducks, furbearers, deer, wild turkey, winter cover for pheasants and a home
for many species of songbirds. Brushy Bayou is one of the largest public timber tracts in Palo
Alto County. Silver maple, green ash, cottonwood and dogwood are dominant trees and
shrubs. You will find the Great Blue Heron nesting high us in trees. This area has an
excellent trail for hikers and cross country skiers. This area provides an excellent opportunity
for people to view many woodland species of wildlife in Palo Alto County!!
With the help from Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and a Habitat Stamp Grant, the Conservation Board acquired Burns Prairie, 160 acre tract. This site includes 72 acres of natural and enhanced wetlands. The US Fish and Wildlife Service restored eight wetland basins, three with water control structures. 29 acres of cropland is farmed, providing quality nesting cover and a food plot. The remainder of the property is prairie. Canada geese, mallard, woodducks, shovelers, redheads and blue winged teal are attracted to the marshes for nesting. Waterfowl migrating through include green-winged teal, gadwall, blue bills and wigeon. Besides ducks and geese, species such as red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds, bobolinks, yellow throats and furbearers, pheasants and deer are common. Hunting and trapping is allowed.
Glacial Ridge Wildlife Area
If you are looking to tour a parcel of land that accurately depicts the landform region known as the Des Moines Lobe, you would be happy to discover Glacial Ridge Wildlife Area. The area has a vast array of native flora in a diverse setting of high ridges and low marsh land. The area is open for hunting.
Hauschen Wildlife Area
The combined efforts of Ducks Unlimited, Palo Alto County Conservation Board, the USDA
Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Wildlife Habitat Stamp Fund resulted in the
purchase and restoration of this 134 acres of prairie and wetland. There are nine wetland
basins and 15 acres of native prairie. This area is located on U.S. Highway 18, 4.5 miles west
of Emmetsburg. This area is managed to provide habitat for waterfowl and other grassland
species. It is open to public hunting and trapping.
This 56 acre tract adjacent to Lost Island-Huston Park was awarded to the Conservation Board with a REAP grant. This site is located south and east of Lost Island-Huston Park and is managed separately from the park. This is a great wildlife habitat area. Hunting and trapping are allowed. This area is clearly marked to separate it from the adjacent Lost Island-Huston Park that is managed as a wildlife refuge and is closed to hunting.
Located just 2.5 miles southeast of Ruthven, enjoy 34 acres of wetlands and uplands for hunting.
This 3.5 acre located one mile east on Highway 18 from Ruthven, two miles south on gravel
road. This is a small but diverse little prairie. Look for the pasque flower in early spring. You
will need to visit this often as it has many of the seasonal native flowers.
Lost Island-Huston Park
This is a great camping spot to bring the family. Lost Island-Huston Park provides hiking trails, a wildlife observation blind, campground, picnic shelters, boat ramp, docks and a swimming beach.
Plantation Wildlife Area
This 10 acre area with mostly timber. Hunting is allowed
Prairie Gold Wildlife Area
Prairie Gold Wildlife Area was funded by the local Pheasants Forever Chapter and funds received from the Habitat Stamp Program. This 80 acre tract includes cropland, prairie wetland and a small gravel pit. The wetlands and prairie provide habitat for waterfowl, pheasants, turkey, deer, furbearers and non game species.
River Runner Access
Just 4 miles southwest of West Bend, this area is mostly timber and has a boat ramp on the Des Moines River for excellent river fishing or canoeing.
Riverview Wildlife Area
This 17 acre area is mostly timber. Great access to the Des Moines river for fishing. Native
prairie for hunting upland game.
Roads End Prairie
8 acres of restored prairie located 3 miles northwest of Emmetsburg. Good hunting for
Robert Mulroney Recreation Area
Located 2.5 miles south west of Rodman, this is a great place to have a picnic and do some
fishing. Try some river canoeing as there is a boat ramp on the river. Also gravel pit stocked
with catfish. Northern, bass, bluegill, perch fishing are excellent. Forested river bottom with
prairie for upland bird hunting.
Rossiter Wildlife Area
13 acres of marsh. Enjoy the wildlife and birding.
Take the family on a picnic to Salton Park. 4 shelter houses, pit toilets, fish cleaning station and lake access to Silver Lake. Silver Lake is excellent for bullheads, perch, northern and crappies.
Sportsman Recreation Area
Excellent spot for fishing at the gravel pit that is stocked with catfish. You will have good luck with perch, bluegill, crappies and bass also. There is a boat launch to the pit. Excellent upland bird hunting. A picnic area with pit toilets are available. Take advantage of the shooting range at Sportsmans. Just 2.25 miles north of Cylinder. If you are interested in becoming a member of the shooting range, please contact Don Bruch at 712-298-3240.
Telford’s Prairie was willed to the State of Iowa by Mary Telford. The Palo Alto County Conservation Board has custody and management of the area. Primary emphasis will be preservation and protection of the animals and plants that live on the prairie. There is no hunting or trapping allowed. Hiking and bird watching is permitted. The prairie has never been plowed, and support a wide variety of plant and animal life. Prairie plants include butterfly milkweed, great blue lobelia, lead plants, purple coneflower, purple prairie clover, rattlesnake master, gentian, blazing star, phlox, mountain mint, compass plant, a variety of native asters, sunflowers and goldenrods, big bluestem, little bluestem, indian grass, switch grass, sideoats gramma and prairie cordgrass. The endangered Amorpha nana, related to the lead plant and the rare smooth green snake are also found at Telford’s prairie.
Watson Heritage Area
This area is located just south of Emmetsburg adjacent to Burns Bridge. The Iowa Natural
Heritage Foundation negotiated the purchase. Funds from Iowa hunters and trappers, in
what is known as the Wildlife Habitat Stamp Fund, were matched with funds from
conservation organizations and foundations. Funds were provided by the Frederick O. Watson
Foundation (for which the new area is named), Ducks Unlimited, Palo Alto County Chapter of
Pheasants Forever, Pheasants Forever Trust Fund, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Edwin
T. Merideth Foundation and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
There are seven wetlands that have been restored on the site,
forested view bottom with over 200 acres of restored prairie. There is a trail along the
timber. The area is open to hunting, trapping, river fishing, hiking and cross-country skiing.
West Bend Wildlife Area
WILDLIFE REFUGE – NO HUNTING
66 acres with a mix of forested river bottom and prairie.
West Fork Wetlands
West Fork Wetlands is located along the west fork of the Des Moines River on B63, 3 miles west of West Bend. This 152 acre site was acquired with the help of Wildlife Habitat Stamp funds and support from the Palo Alto County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and Wetlands for Iowa. The area provides excellent habitat for ducks and geese, wild turkeys, many fur bearing animals as well as non-game species. You can find timber along the river, and 69 acres of wetlands with 84 additional acres of grassland important for nesting. The area is open to public hunting. Fishing, hiking, cross country skiing are also a favorite.
Whitetail Flats Wildlife Area
229 acre tract just off of Hwy 4 south of Emmetsburg, this site has six acres of timber, and
much of the remainder has been seeded down to native prairie grasses. There is a small food plot and small restored wetland basins.