U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Driftless Area
National Wildlife Refuge

lavender northern monkshood blossom and foliage
401 Business Hwy 18 N
McGregor, IA   52157
E-mail: driftless@fws.gov
Phone Number: 563-873-3423
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
The refuge protects habitat for the Federally threatened northern monkshood.
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The refuge was established in 1989 with the purchase of the 207-acre Howard Creek unit in Clayton County, Iowa. This site contains both the Iowa Pleistocene snail and northern monkshood on three algific talus slopes. The Nature Conservancy of Iowa assisted with acquiring two tracts of land for the refuge and was instrumental in locating algific talus slopes and contacting landowners.

Additional refuge units were added throughout the 1990s to reach a total of 618 acres in 1996. A land trade was completed in 2001 to add 17 acres and another in 2002 to add 140 acres. The refuge is currently 775 acres, all in Iowa. More acquisition is planned to meet the goal of permanent protection for the majority of the Iowa Pleistocene snail and northern monkshood populations.

Much of the refuge lands were formerly part of active farms and contain former agricultural fields or pasture that are being restored to native vegetation. Algific talus slopes were hidden treasures among wooded ravines that were sometimes used for cattle grazing, timber harvest and hunting, but otherwise left to themselves. Hopefully, the geology, plants, and animals will give us clues to the past as we learn more about them.

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