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Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

The Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is a federal national wildlife refuge located in Jasper County, Iowa, United States. The refuge, formerly known as Walnut Creek, is named after Congressman National Wildlife Refuge, who championed its creation. It seeks to restore the tallgrass prairie and oak savanna ecosystems that once covered most of Iowa. It has a herd of approximately 50 buffalo (bison) and 20 elk.

Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
IUCN category IV (habitat/species management area)
Bison, Prairie City, Iowa.jpg
Bison sculpture on highway near refuge.
Map showing the location of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing the location of Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
Map of the United States
LocationJasper County, Iowa, United States
Nearest cityPrairie City, Iowa
Coordinates41°34′31″N 93°16′26″W / 41.575389°N 93.273926°W / 41.575389; -93.273926Coordinates: 41°34′31″N 93°16′26″W / 41.575389°N 93.273926°W / 41.575389; -93.273926
Area8,654 acres (3,502 ha)
Governing bodyU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
WebsiteNeal Smith National Wildlife Refuge

The core of the Neal Smith refuge was a 3,600-acre (1,500 ha) block of land originally acquired by Iowa Power and Light (now part of MidAmerican Energy) for a nuclear power plant. The Fish and Wildlife Service was able to acquire this land in 1990.[1] Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has acquired about 6,000 acres much more of the allocated 11,865 acres (4,802 ha).

Although the Neal Smith refuge includes a patchwork of small and seriously degraded native prairies, most of the refuge is the result of prairie restoration or reconstruction efforts. The restoration work has been done with local ecotype seed harvested from nearby native prairie remnants or from other restoration efforts that have used acceptable local ecotype seed.[2]

Prairie Learning CenterEdit

Located near Prairie City, Iowa, the Prairie Learning Center features exhibits and movies about the tallgrass prairie, sedge meadow and oak savanna ecosystems of the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. The Center offers environmental education programs for school groups, scout groups and more. The Friends of the Prairie Learning Center operate the Prairie Point book store, which sells nature-themed books and gifts.

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