Sustainable Prairie Conservation

The Northeast Iowa Community College Calmar campus resides in a region of Iowa that historically had large areas of oak savanna that provided native diversity to the prairie landscape roamed by elk, buffalo and deer. NICC has reintroduced this landscape in partnership with several entities, including the Winneshiek Soil and Water Conservation District, providing an environmental learning tool to understand the region’s historical landscape as well as to reduce energy costs.

The campus-wide sustainable conservation plan includes a native wildflower garden, butterfly garden, shelterbelt, rain garden, oak savannah and a short grass native prairie.  Other initiatives includes a focus on reducing water run off from the campus. The construction of retention ponds, waterway improvements and a native planting bioswale are recent improvements.

The goals of this project include:

  1. Providing wind protection
  2. Decreasing energy and maintenance costs
  3. Improving aesthetics
  4. Increasing plant diversity
  5. Ensuring soil quality
  6. Providing wildlife habitat and reintroduction of native plant species

View a map of the Conservation Plan on the Calmar campus. Additional sustainability projects have extended to the Iowa's Dairy Center and surrounding cropland.  These projects include restoration of a pond area, terracing, planting additional rain gardens and shelter belts, trenching, sediment basins and construction of a permeable paver parking area.