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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Exploring the prairie

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Prairie Heritage Center is located four and a half miles southeast of Sutherland on Hwy. 10 then turn one mile north on Yellow Ave. Photo by Mike Leckband
SUTHERLAND - With over a decade of planning, the Prairie Heritage Center (PHC) opened near Sutherland on Nov. 30, 2006. The Little Sioux Valley Conservation Association and the O'Brien County Conservation Board oversee the Center.

Since then, the PHC has provided many educational and historic events. Continuing with that, the PHC invites the public to come and explore the wonders of the wetlands with this year's Wings and Wetlands Festival in six counties in Northwest Iowa. The O'Brien County Conservation Board has planned a variety of events to get participants into the wild outdoors.

On Saturday, May 9, begin the day with Breakfast with the Birds. The public is invited to meet at 7:30 a.m. at the PHC for juice, coffee and rolls. Then, hit the trail to spot migrating songbirds.

Give me a home One of the many attraction at the Prairie Heritage Center are live bison that make their home on the 1,800 acres that surrounds the Center. Photo by Mike Leckband
After a short carpool ride, the hike will continue at the nearby Wanata State Park. At 10:30 a.m., a pair of trumpeter swans will be released at Waterman Prairie, 1- miles south of Hwy 10 on Wilson Ave. Bring your camera to catch a photo of these beautiful birds before they are released.

In the afternoon there will be two programs offered at the Prairie Heritage Center. First, learn the link between birding and archaeology at the 2 p.m. program -- Science and Archaeology Take Flight.

An opportunity to make-and-take a cattail decoy will follow at 3:30 p.m. Wrap up the day with a family movie at the PHC at 7 p.m. Bring a blanket to camp out on the floor (or chair). Popcorn will be provided.

On Sunday, May 10, the fun will continue. Take another look at the fabulous watchable wildlife locations in Northwest Iowa with a carpool tour to Dan Green Slough and Fen Valley. The public is encouraged to meet at the Oneota Park in Spencer at 1 p.m. Bring your binoculars and join in the fun for the afternoon. The tour will return around 4 p.m.

As for the PHC itself, it is open Wednesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The PHC rests on 1,800 acres and offers many attractions. The first and foremost of the attractions at the PHC has to be the large open center room with wall displays and interactive activities through out the main room.

Also there is an impressive view of the Little Sioux River valley that lies to the west of the Center. But most impressive of all is the life size bison that greets you upon entering the center. The Bison stands in the center of the room along with other taxidermy animals that is spread thoughout the center display.

Once you walk through the main hall you can step out on to the observation deck, which is poised for bird watching, along with binoculars that anyone can use for viewing.

The learning center has many display booths on hand that feature local crafts and a display of the history of O'Brien County.

The PHC features tall grass prairie ecosystem, the Mill Creek Indian culture, early settlement of the county, wildlife area including upland forest, all located on the old O'Brien Glacial Trail Scenic Byway.

The Center is located four and a half miles southeast of Sutherland on Hwy. 10 then turn one mile north on Yellow Ave.

For more information on these and other activities taking place during this spring festival, contact the O'Brien County Conservation Board at 712-295-7200. A six county calendar of events is available.

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