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Neal Smith
National Wildlife Refuge

bison calf nursing from cow
9981 Pacific Street
Prairie City, IA   50228
E-mail: nealsmith@fws.gov
Phone Number: 515-994-3400
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Bison have been re-introduced to the refuge as part of the effort to restore the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
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In all, 8,654 acres of land south and west of Prairie City, Iowa, were designated to be preserved and restored to pre-Euro-American settlement conditions, to the greatest extent possible. The first parcel of land was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the Redlands Corporation in 1991. In the 1970s, this property had been targeted for a nuclear power generating station.

The geologic history of this area is one of repeated glacial expansion and retreat, except for the most recent ice age. The relief of the rolling landscape is approximately 100 feet, the uplands being remnants of an old glacial plain. Pre-settlement ecosystems in the Walnut Creek watershed were determined by studying General Land Office surveyors' notes from the 1840s and from soils information.

The refuge currently manages more than 5,000 acres. Before being secured, almost all of the 15 square miles which make up the refuge were used for some type of agricultural purpose: row crops such as corn and soybeans and/or livestock production. Much of the privately owned land located within the authorized boundary, but not yet purchased, is still actively being farmed.

More than 99.9% of Iowa's 35 million acres of historic tallgrass prairie and oak savanna ecosystems have succumbed to the plow since the 1840s. It is believed that restoration and reconstruction efforts currently underway at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge are the largest such efforts ever attempted in world history.

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