Branch of Conservation Planning
Midwest Region

Neal Smith NWR Comprehensive Conservation Plan

Neal Smith NWR CCP featuring a bison

Comprehensive Conservation Plan Completed
Future Management Direction
The Refuge
For More Information
The Planning Process

Comprehensive Conservation Plan Completed

The Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for Neal Smith NWR was approved on January 28, 2013. The CCP will guide management of Neal Smith NWR over the next 15 years and will ensure that the Refuge fulfills its established purposes and contributes to the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The complete CCP and a summary can be viewed and downloaded on this website. Paper copies and compact discs are available in limited supply and may be obtained by emailing a request to or by calling the Refuge office at (515) 994-3400.

Future Management Direction

The CCP establishes three goals and 23 objectives for meeting those goals. Some of the objectives are departures from previous management. Key changes to Neal Smith NWR programs that will be implemented over the next 15 years include:

Tallgrass Prairie Habitats

Landscape-Scale Development and Habitat Loss


The Refuge

Located 18 miles east of Des Moines, Iowa, Neal Smith NWR was established in 1990 as Walnut Creek NWR. The name was changed in 1998 to honor Congressman Neal Smith, whose support was instrumental in establishment of the Refuge. The Refuge is authorized to acquire up to 11,875 acres of land to reconstruct a piece of the tallgrass prairie and savanna ecosystem that is Iowa's natural heritage. More than 5,000 acres have been acquired so far.

Refuge staff works with state conservation officers, schools, scientists, and prairie enthusiasts to collect and plant rare prairie and savanna seeds. Small savanna and prairie remnants within Refuge boundaries are being protected. Mowing, brush cutting, and prescribed burning are used to manage both planted and remnant sites. Ongoing monitoring and research guide the restoration process.

The Visitor Center provides a major environmental education facility and visitor services. Miles of trails radiate out from the Center, and the Refuge offers outdoor activities such as teacher workshops, birding, hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. Bison and elk have been reintroduced to the Refuge to demonstrate the natural role of large herbivores in the tallgrass ecosystem, and visitors can drive through the 700-acre bison enclosure.

For More Information

For information on Neal Smith NWR, please contact the Refuge at:

(505) 994-3400; 1-800-877-8339 (TTY, Federal Relay Service)

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
P.O. Box 399
9981 Pacific Street
Prairie City, IA 50228

The Planning Process

These are the steps that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service follows in comprehensive conservation planning; the step that Neal Smith NWR has reached is highlighted:

  1. Preplanning: Plan the Plan
  2. Initiate Public Involvement and Scoping
  3. Review Vision Statement and Goals and Determine Significant Issues
  4. Develop and Analyze Alternatives, Including the Proposed Action
  5. Prepare a Draft CCP and NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) Document
  6. Prepare and Adopt Final CCP
  7. Implement Plan, Monitor and Evaluate
  8. Review and Revise the Plan

Last updated: June 3, 2016
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