Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (formerly Walnut Creek), located in Jasper County, Iowa, is a unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System administered by the federal government. The Refuge was created by an act of Congress in 1990 to re-create 8600 acres of tallgrass prairie and oak savanna, the native plant and animal communities existing in central Iowa prior to Euro-American settlement in the 1840’s.
Refuge staff and volunteers are working with conservation biologists, schools, scientists, and prairie enthusiasts to preserve a piece of Iowa’s natural heritage. Rare prairie and savanna seeds are being collected, studied, sown, and tended. Small savanna and prairie remnants within Refuge boundaries are being protected. Mowing, brush cutting, and prescribed burns are being used to manage both planting and remnant sites. Ongoing research is guiding the restoration processes.
The Visitor Center facilities include a bookstore, theater, classrooms and exhibit area. Miles of trails radiate from the Center. In addition, the public is welcome to drive through an approximately 700 acre enclosure in hopes of seeing bison or elk. Teacher workshops, birding, hiking, biking, mushrooming, hunting and wildlife watching are some of the outdoor activities featured for thousands of visitors to enjoy each year.
Learn more about the refuge