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      Iowa DNR's Bill Johnson lectures about prairie reconstruction

      The traveling tallgrass prairie exhibit has been on display all month at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Center. To top off this educational, hands-on display--Iowa Department of Natural Resources member Bill Johnson gave a presentation about reconstructing prairies Saturday morning.

      Johnson spoke about his 25 year career specializing in prairies, offering tips such as how to plant a prairie and sharing learned experiences of mistakes he made in the past.

      Johnson hoped people came out of his presentation with an appreciation of Iowa's depleted prairies--only a minuscule amount of the state's original prairies still exist.

      "It's in their heritage if they live here in Iowa," said Johnson. "It's a really neat thing, because 99.9 percent of Iowa's prairies are gone. People really haven't experienced prairie. Hopefully through this slide show and presentation, they will get a little experience and appreciation for prairie here."

      He also spoke about the Iowa DNR's cooperative project with the Ottumwa Work Release Facility to grow prairie seed.

      Offenders at the facility are in charge of helping maintain and harvest the seed.

      The Wapello County Conservation Board will provide insight as well as plant materials.