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Tallgrass Prairie Events at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in September


Monarch butterflies may be found feeding on New England asters in the park's 81-acre tallgrass prairie. NPS photo.

Butterflies, wildflowers and a restored piece of tallgrass prairie will be the focus of ranger guided walks at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site on Labor Day. Visitors who'd like to give a little back can help with a volunteer project in the park's 81-acre tallgrass prairie on September 24.

"September is one of the most brilliant months in the prairie," said park superintendent Pete Swisher. "It's when flocks of monarch butterflies may be found among yellow goldenrods and purple asters. Our ranger-guided walks and volunteer projects are good opportunities for people to bring their questions about the prairie and the park, and to learn in more detail about our natural and cultural resources."

On Labor Day Monday, September 5 rangers will lead guided walks of the 81-acre tallgrass prairie at the park. Visitors can discover how and why the National Park Service is restoring this endangered habitat as part of the landscape commemorating Herbert Hoover's life. The walk is less than a mile and lasts about one hour.

The walks will start at 9:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and begin at the Gravesite Parking Lot. Participants should bring water, dress for the weather, and wear comfortable walking shoes. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and insect repellent are recommended. Parking is limited so the staff asks those attending to allow extra time to find a parking space.

On Saturday, September 24, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site will participate in National Public Lands Day with a volunteer project in the 81-acre tallgrass prairie.

Volunteers are needed to help remove trees, shrubs, and weeds from the grassland, or with other projects to improve the park landscape.

Volunteers interested in helping on September 24 may contact Adam Prato at (319) 643-7855. Work in the prairie will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Participants should meet at the Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m. for an orientation and to get signed up. A park spokesperson says volunteers should "Dress for the weather and wear comfortable work clothes. Water, sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, and insect repellent are recommended. Long pants and closed-toe footwear are required."

By the time of Herbert Hoover's birth in 1874, most of the tallgrass prairie in eastern Iowa had already been converted to farmland. The National Park Service began reconstructing the endangered habitat at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in the 1970s.

The deep-rooted native prairie plants help control erosion and runoff in the national park that is the home to Herbert Hoover's birthplace, gravesite, and Presidential Library and Museum. The prairie also provides open space and a natural setting to commemorate Herbert Hoover's contributions conserving public lands. During Hoover's presidency, the size of our national forests expanded by more than two million acres, and the land designated for new national parks and monuments increased by 40 percent.

Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum are in West Branch, Iowa, at exit 254 off I-80. Both are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time. Information to  help plan a visit is available on the park website.


It's nice to see some ecological preservation going on at parks that are largely historical in purpose. Critically endangered systems (like tallgrass prairie) need all the help they can get, and this little patch may not be much more than symbolic (and honoroary), but that in itself is of value.  

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