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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Sioux City in Woodbury County, Iowa — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Prairies in the Hills

Iowa's Loess Hills

 
 
Prairies in the Hills Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
1. Prairies in the Hills Marker
Inscription.  When Lewis & Clark saw western Iowa in 1804, the land was almost completely covered with prairie grasses and wildflowers. Now, very little of this vegetation remains. The largest tracts of undisturbed prairie found in Iowa are here in the Loess Hills. These prairie plants have lived here for thousands of years. Over 300 species of plants have been identified by biologists, many native to Iowa only in the Loess Hills. These prairies are classified as "mixed grass" prairies. They contain the "tall grass" species like switchgrass, big bluestem and Indiangrass, the "mid-grasses" such as little bluestem and side oats grama, and the "short grass" plants like blue grama and buffalograss. Prairie wildflowers, called forbs, share this habitat with the grasses. Some of the forbs commonly seen include leadplant, compass plant, coneflower, asters, blue eyed grass and yucca.

Threats To The Prairie
Timber is a natural enemy of the sun loving prairie. The invading woody plants move slowly up hillsides, increasing in growth until their shade eliminates the prairie vegetation. The first plants to begin the assault are coralberry, sumac and dogwood.
Marker detail: Grasses and Forbs image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Grasses and Forbs
These plants produce the shade and wind protection allowing trees such as red cedar, burr oak, and others to sprout. In Iowa, trees are not rare like the native prairie. The mixture of forbs and grasses found in the Loess Hills evolved naturally here for thousands of years. Wildfires and herds of buffalo helped control the spread of trees and shrubs in pre-settlement times. These natural forces are no longer present. The challenge now for saving the remaining prairie is to stop the woody invasion. The primary management tool currently used to achieve this, is periodic burning of the prairie.
 
Erected by Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources, Iowa West Foundation, Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development, and Western Iowa Tourism Region.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: EnvironmentExplorationHorticulture & Forestry. In addition, it is included in the Lewis & Clark Expedition series list.
 
Location. 42° 33.278′ N, 96° 28.187′ W. Marker is in Sioux City, Iowa, in Woodbury County. Marker is on Stone State Park Drive 0.6 miles west of Talbot Road, on the left when traveling west. Marker is located in a pull-out on the west side of Elk Point Overlook in Stone State Park. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Sioux City IA 51109, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8
Marker detail: Loess Hills<br>/ Missouri River Valley image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Loess Hills
/ Missouri River Valley
other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Big Sioux River Valley (within shouting distance of this marker); An American Treasure (approx. 0.2 miles away); Native Peoples of the Loess (approx. 0.3 miles away); Geology Wonders (approx. 0.3 miles away); From Settlement to State Park (approx. 0.3 miles away); Prospect Hill (approx. 5 miles away); The Lewis & Clark Expedition (approx. 5.1 miles away); M.V. Sergeant Floyd (approx. 5.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sioux City.
 
Also see . . .
1. Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. When Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark led their Corps of Discovery through this region in the summer of 1804, the Hills were covered with prairie. The scant trees that existed hugged the water ways. Around the 1850's, change came to the Loess Hills. Farms, communities and roads checked the wilderness that had cleansed the prairie of the always encroaching trees and woodland plants and, as you can see now, trees blanket most of the hills. (Submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Loess Hills (Wikipedia). The Loess Hills have abundant oak-hickory hardwood forests and some of the last remaining stands of prairie grass in the region. The invasion of prairie and oak savanna areas by woodland species such as red cedar
Prairies in the Hills Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
4. Prairies in the Hills Marker
(not native to the Hills) is threatening the stability of the fragile soils, as well as diminishing the native ecosystems found there. (Submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Sign image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
5. Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Sign
(located on Stone State Park Drive, near marker)
Loess Hills / Missouri River Valley image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, August 18, 2014
6. Loess Hills / Missouri River Valley
(looking southwest from marker • North Sioux City in distant background)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 14, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 47 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 14, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Feb. 25, 2021