Siouxland’s large prairie reserve, Broken Kettle Grasslands

13 Jul

This weekend was the annual Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve bison day near Westfield, Iowa. This preserve is part of Nature Conservancy and is the largest prairie area in the state of Iowa for the organization and contains the largest remaining prairie in Iowa. The buffalo herd or bison were started in northwest Iowa five years ago with 28 animals from the Wind Cave National Park herd in South Dakota, and are as genetically pure a descent of those former bison that roamed these prairies when Europeans first began exploring the area. This was the fourth annual bison day and a variety of activities, geared for children, but educational for adults as well. Naturalists talk and show living bird species that include a bald eagle and raptors and and owl. Then there is the hayrack ride out into the area where the bison are currently roaming. The volunteers and members of the conservancy are great in answering questions as well as trying to get their visitors as close as possible to the wary animals. This weekend was a little soggy, as rain continued to make its presence intermittently. But that didn’t dampen the excitement when the bison came into view and both adults and children oohed and aahed with delight. 


After seeing the bison visitors were then treated to some treats that volunteered had cooked via the Dutch oven method, an oft used way of cooking that campers still use, but was in vogue with the pioneers. Around the home base are fields that visitors can explore and climb some small hills that give an extended view into the Loess Hills area and enjoy the vistas, imagining what the Native Americans saw when they roamed this open land, and what early settlers had seen when they first arrived.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

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