descriptions and directions
Neal Smith NWR - Jasper County
GPS Coordinates: 41.5755524, -93.2627163
Management: Federal - USFWS
Description: Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge is a 5,600 acre tallgrass prairie and oak savanna restoration site. Birding can be done from roadsides as well as three main trails--the Savanna Trail, Tallgrass Trail (ADA Accessible), and Basswood Trail. The Prairie Learning Center provides information on tallgrass prairie and oak savanna, as well as a gift shop, restrooms, and eating area. Building hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12:00 to 5:00 Sundays. Closed on federal holidays after Labor Day and before Memorial Day.
Habitat: Tallgrass prairie provides a large expanse of habitat for grassland birds. Neal Smith NWR is perhaps the premier location in Iowa for Henslow's Sparrows. The 800-acre fenced bison and elk area provides excellent habitat for Grasshopper Sparrows and Bobolinks. Mowed and burned fields provide habitat for Smith's Longspurs during migration. Short-eared Owls are present in winter. Oak savanna and woodlands also provide habitat for forest and edge bird species, including Red-headed Woodpeckers.
Directions: Located in southwest Jasper Co., just south of Hwy. 163 at the Prairie City exit. "Walnut Creek N.W.R." in the older Sportsman's Atlas edition. Road construction is currently underway (summer and fall 2015), so take 129th St. south from Hwy. 163, then turn left onto 102nd Ave. to reach the visitor center.
Public Hunting Area
Search for area boundary information on the DNR interactive atlas
Important Bird Area: IBA Entry for Neal Smith NWR