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Potluck: Winter on the Prairie

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

Winter on the Prairie 

by Carol Bodensteiner
photo courtesy Ellen Bastian



Nothing to do or see on the prairie in winter? Peeshaw! 

“The prairie is alive in winter,” says Michelle Garcia, who leads snowshoe hikes at Iowa’s largest prairie, the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge (NSNWR). In addition to a buffalo herd of nearly 100 head, visitors may see owls, hawks, and evidence of many animals living under the snow.

If hiking the prairie in winter isn’t your cup of tea, join other volunteers at the NSNWR Second Saturday Stewardship event every month. Depending on the season, volunteers may harvest, clean, or sort seed, supporting the ongoing effort to restore the tallgrass prairie. The Refuge covers 5,600 acres; 3,000 have been restored to prairie. 

For details on volunteer opportunities or winter prairie hikes, visit



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