Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Gilbertson Conservation Education Area Campground Season Starts!!!!

The Gilbertson Conservation Education Area Campground is Officially Open for the 2010 Season.
The Bathhouse is open and the Electricity is on.

Located along the Banks of the Turkey River on the East side of Elgin, Iowa at 1810 Agate Road.

This unique area offers something for everyone with a canoe access, pave ¼ mile trail that is wheelchair accessible, playground, shelter house, modern campground with dump station, a bathhouse with sinks, flush toilets, showers, 28 electrical hook up sites and several non electrical camping sites.  A Primitive Equestrian Camping area is also availbe by appointment.

The campground is only one part of the 345 acre Gilbertson Conservation Education Area. The area also features over 5 miles of trails available for hikers, non-motorized bikes, horseback riders', and in the wintertime cross-country skiing.  Parts of the park are open to public hunting. One can even fish in the pond or the Turkey River.

The petting zoo is open to the public from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM – 7 PM or by Appointment May 1 to Labor Day.

The Gilbertson Nature Center at 22580 A Ave. features interpretive and educational displays about Northeast Iowa, the Mavis & Conner Dummermuth Historical Building contain farm and home antiques and memorabilia and the Hart Dummermuth Historical Home depicts a farm home from between 1890 – 1920’s. The buildings are open to the public from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day Wednesday – Sunday 11 AM – 7 PM or by appointment.

For more information: check out the Gilbertson Conservation Education Area Web Page:, call: 563-426-5740 or e-mail:

2010 Camping Fees for Gilbertson Conservatoion Education Area:
Season Pass = $250.00 for the 2010 Camping Season
$12.00 / night with electricity
$7.00 / night without electricity
$7.00 / night Equestrian Camping

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Dawn Chorus"- Song Birds

Spring has arrived and with it come a "Dawn Chorus". That chorus consists of many different animals sinigng their “love songs”. The birds normaly are the first one to “sence, or feel” spring has arrived. They get excited to establish a home, attract a mate to help their species continue to survive. As local resident birds grear up and sing for spring, migents slowly arrive adding to the dawn chorus. It is beautiful in the early morning as they all “chime” in. To some it is a muttled mess of sounds, but to other’s a beautiful chorse.

In this blog I have listed some of the more common "Dawn Chorus" birds you might hear around you.

I have also attached a PDF document listing Bird Songs or Calls. This guide will help you identify bird songs by using human words to help you remember and recognize many of the birds that sing around you. To open the document click on the "Dawn Chorus" - Song Birds tital, it will open a google document you will be ablet to download, save and / or print off the docement.  Then you can use it to help you identify many of the singing Birds in the "Dawn Chorus".

Birds and their Songs:
Black-capped Chickadee = "Chick-a-dee-dee-dee" or "Phoe-be"
White-breasted Nuthatch = "Hank Hank" or "Nurt Nurt"
American Goldfinch = "Potato chip, Potato chip-chip" [done in flight] or "Per-chickory, Per-chickory"
Eastern Meadowlark = "Iowa is beautiful" or "Spring of the Year"
Red-winged Blackbird = "Conk-Lar-REE!" or "Oak-a-REE!" Call note a harsh "CHECK!"
Northern Cardinal = "Wa-cheer Wa-cheer, Birdy-Birdy-Birdy, Wheat, Wheat, WheatBlue Jay = "JAY, JAY, JAY
Scarlet Tanager = robin like notes slower and with a slight bur "Chip-bur, Chip-bur"
Brown Thrasher = each part of the song is repeated 2 or 3 times
Eastern Bluebird = soft single or double notes a "Cha-we" or "Chawe-we"
American Robin = "Cheerily, Cheer-UP-CHEERlo" or "Cheerily, Cheerily, Cheer-UP-CHEERAlee"
Killdeer = "Killdee, Killdee"
Indigo Bunting = "Sweet Sweet, Chew Chew, Feet, Feet"
Mourning Dove = "WhoooOooo-who-who-who"
White-throated Sparrow = "Sweet Canada Canada Canada" or "Poor Sam Peabody Peabody"
Ruby-crowned Kinglet = "See See See, To, To, To, Think of Me, Think of Me" very loud for a small bird
Rufous-sided Towhee = “Drink Your Tee"
Tufted Titmouse = "Peat, Peat, Peat" or "Peter, Peter, Peter"
Bobwhite = "Bob White or toot-sweet!"
Yellow Warbler = "Chit chit chit Chit CHit-Tweet" or "Sweet Sweet SWEET I'm so Sweet"
Common Yellowthroat = "Wichity, Whichity, Whichity, Which"
Ovenbird = "Tea-Cher, Tea-Cher, Tea-Cher"
Eastern Phoebe = "FEE-bee"
American Crow = "CAW, CAW, CAW"
Northern Oriole = here, here, come right here, dear OR flute-like, disjointed series of notes
Cedar Waxwing = trill (hp, rapid) always flocks OR zeee-zeee-zeee… (hp trilled)
Chimney Swift = chit-chit-chit-chit... (rapid staccato) OR twittering (rapid)
Chipping Sparrow = chipping trill (mechanical, dry, rapid)
Common Nighthawk = Pee-eet (nasal) OR beeer
Gray Catbird = meeeee-ew or maaaaaanh (nasal) OR varied mocker-like phrases (seldom repeated)
House Finch = zreee! (included in varied, warbling song)
House Sparrow = chiddik, chiddik (dry, non-musical)
House Wren = stuttering, gurgling, musical, i at end
Purple Finch =  Warbling – varied phrases, fast, lively, brief
Rose-breasted Grosbeak = cheer-up, cheer-a-lee, cheer-ee-o (malodic) AND chink
Song Sparrow = Maids, maids, maids-put-on-your-tea-kettle-ettle-ettle OR Hip, hip, hip hurrah boys, pring is here! OR Madge, Madge, Madge pick beetles off, the water’s hot

Here is a link to the Field Checklist of Iowa Birds:

Friday, March 26, 2010

Guide to Early WIldflowers

If you click on the words Guilde to Early Wildflowers below, you will open a PDF copy of the  Guide to Early WIldflowers Fayette County Conservation Board.  You will be able to save this document and / or print it off so you can take it with you when you go hiking to help you identify many of the early spring wildflowers found in Fayette County.  Happy Wildflower Hiking!

Guide to Early Wildflowers
Fayette County Conservation Board

Early Spring Wildflowers have adapted to be small in size to survive adverse weather conditions.

Exchanges of information were common between the Native Americans and the Pioneers when food and medicine were scarce.

HEPATICA - (liverleaf, liverwort) Buttercup family
Round-lobed Hepatica - Hepatica amricana
Blooms March - May. Leaves and stem: rounded lobes of 3 lobed leaves. Stalks hairy. Flowers white, pink, lavender, or blue. The 6 to 10 “petals” are really sepals. There are three bracts below each flower. 4 - 6” in height. Found in leafy woods.
Sharp-lobed Hepatica - Hepatica acutiloba
Blooms March - April. Similar leaves and stems to the round-lobed hepatica but the lobes of the leaves are pointed, occasionally 5 to 7 lobes. Hybridizes. 4 - 9” in height. Found in upland woods.
During Middle Ages Hepatica was used to treat liver ailments, “Doctrine of Signatures” held that if a plant in some way resembled an organ of the human body that the plant could cure ailments of the organ. Contains tannin which is a mild astringent; Chippewas made a tea of the root for children with convulsions.

TRILLIUM - (Birthwort) Lily family
Snow or Dwarf White Trillium - Trillium nivale
Blooms March - May. Smallest and earliest blooming trillium with less than 1” long petals and narrow 1 - 2” leaves. 2 - 6” in height. Found rich woods.

Nodding Trillium - Trillium cernuum
Blooms April - June. The flower dangles below the leaves, petals are 1” long, may be white or rarely pink. Leaves had short petioles. 6 - 24” in height. Found in acid or peat woods.
Trillium from Latin tres meaning “three” and lilium for lily., has petals, 3 sepals, 3 leaves.
Pioneers say the Native Americans used the plant to induce labor and treat other childbirth problems; Native Americans used the root to make an antiseptic for open wounds, sore eyes, ear drops, and internal bleeding.

BLOODROOT – Sanguinaria canadensis - Poppy family
Blooms March-May. The flower has 8 - 10 pedals, 6 - 12” heigh, and is white colored. The leaf unfurls after the flower appears. The root is poisonous (poppy characteristic) contains alkaloids related to morphine.
A red juice oozes from broken stem and was used as war paint; pioneers for fabric dye also mixed it with oak bark (containing tannin to set color). The Chippewas drank tea made from the root for stomach cramps; some made a tea to bathe burns; sore throat lozenge was made by squeezing juice on a lump of maple sugar; Early medical practice was used for asthma, warts, ringworm, eczema, and fungal infections.

ANEMONE – Buttercup family
Rue-Anemone - Anemonella thalictroides
Blooms March - May. A delicate plant with 2 or 3 flowers on a slender stalk above a whorl of small 3 lobed leaves. The 5 - 10 petals like sepals are usually whitish in color, but sometimes are shaded to a magenta pink. 4 - 8” in heights.
No medicinal uses by the Native Americans or pioneers. But the clusters of tubers have been harvested for food by both. Some times the tubers are called “wild potato”.
False Rue-Anemone - Isopyrum biternatum
Blooms April - May. Growing 1 1/2 feet tall, with its erect stem and branches having a distinct green color, False rue anemone has a fibrous root system with many scattered tubers. There are 3 to 9 leaflets per leaf and each leaflet is somewhat rounded in shape, with three lobes that are more deeply cut than those of the true anemone. The flowers are among the earliest of spring and are hard to distinguish from those of true rue anemone and woodland anemone. The flowers occur in loose clusters and have 5 white petal like sepals, but no true petals.
No medicinal or food uses of this plant by Native Americans or pioneers.
Woodland Anemone - Anemone quinquefolia
Blooms April - June. Is the earliest and smallest woodland anemone. The flowering stem growing 9” tall with three deeply cut leaves about halfway up the stem. Each stem is topped with a solitary flower that can be up to 1” across, with four to nine with to purplish pedals.
The Meskwaki Indians made tee of anemone roots for headache, dizziness and even for refocusing of crossed eyes.

SPRING BEAUTY – Claytonia virginica - Purslane family
Blooms March-May. Has a pair of smooth linear leaves midway up the stem. The petals are white or pink with darker pink veins. 6 - 12” in heights. Found in moist woods.
This is an important food source for wildlife. Native Americans and pioneers ate the tubers raw or boiled in place of potatoes; the tuber or bulb tastes like chestnuts. Leaves were eaten fresh in salads and as greens. Grizzly bears like the tubers, as do rodents. Grazing animals browse the greens.

CUT-LEAVED TOOTHWORT – Dentaria laciniata - Mustard family
Blooms April - June. Noted for its whorl of 3 leaves, each divided into 3 narrow, sharply toothed segments. 8 - 15” in height. Found in moist woods and bottoms. The flower has four white petals which take on a pinkish cast as they get older.
Tuber eaten raw tastes like a radish. Pioneers as an important seasoning ingredient in soups, stews, and other dishes used the tuber.

DUTCHMAN’S BREECHES – Dicentra cucullaria - Poppy family
Blooms April-May. Smooth slender stems come from a common point at around ground level to a height of 4 - 12”. Each stem is a leaf petiole that is topped with a smooth three-divided leaf. Each of these leaves is more deeply cut into linear segments. The perennial root system has a small divided bulb that is covered with scales. The flower stalks arch higher than the leaves carrying 4 - 10 flowers hanging in a one-sided cluster. The flowers are well described by their common name. The flowers are white but will sometimes be tinged with pink. There will also be a bit of yellow color where the petals of the breeches (flower) flare apart.
Native Americans did not make use of this plant this attractive and destructive plant. Early pioneers used the plant to treat urinary problems and as a poultice for treating skin diseases. This plant contains toxic alkaloids; it is sometimes eaten accidentally y cattle resulting in sickness.

SQUIRREL CORN – Dicentra candensis - Poppy family
Blooms April-May. Found growing in with Dutchman’s Breeches. The leaves closely resemble Dutchman’s breeches except they are finer, delicate, compact and more grayish in color. The flowers are more heart shaped and lack the spreading spur that Dutchman's breeches have. The flowers closely resemble the bleeding heart flower.
This plant is also poisonous, but less than Dutchman’s breeches. Tuber is the size of a kernel of corn is often eaten by mice that seem unaffected by the toxicity. In early European medicine this plant was used to treat menstrual complaints, skin problems, and syphilis.

WHITE TROUT-LILY – Erythromium albidum - (Dog-toothed violet) Lily family
Blooms April-June. Has only 1 small leaf for the first 2 -3 years, than the next 2 - 3 years it will have a 1 larger leaf, then after that two leaves are formed. The plant may not flower until it is 6 - 7 years old and only after it has two leaves. Leaves are mottled resembling a trout.
Native Americans ate the bulbs raw, boiled or roasted. Was used to treat gout.

WILD GINGER – Asarum canadens - (Indian ginger) Birthwort family
Blooms April-May. Two large leaves growing on hairy petioles up to 6” long. At the base of the two leaf petioles, a single flower will drop. A bell shaped flower that is maroon to rich brown in color inside and lighter outside. The outside is dull, rather than shinny and covered with stiff white hairs.
Pioneers used this plant as a substitute for Jamaica ginger. Roots can be made into a hard candy. Medicinally it was used for whooping cough, upset stomach, fever, and chest complaints. Native Americans made a contraceptive tea; a poultice was made with wild ginger and plantain for skin inflammations. An antibiotic substance has been found in this plant. For Meskwaki it was the most important seasoning, they also mixed it with meat of unknown death to eliminate danger of poisoning.

JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT – Ariseama triphyllum - (Indian turnip) Arum family
Blooms April-June. One to two leaves each with three pointed oval leaflets. This leaflets growing up to 7” long. A separate stalk carries the club-like spadix (commonly called the preacher or the jack). It is usually 2 - 3” long and covered with minute yellow flowers. A leaf-like spathe wraps around the lower part of the spadix but opens to expose the upper part. The open part extends up above the spadix and curves over it to form the “pulpit”. This spathe may be green, purplish-brown or striped. The fruit is a showy cluster of scarlet berries.
Corm was eaten after it was baked or boiled, peeled and powdered, then heated again, this was done to inactivate the calcium oxalate concentrations which when eaten raw create a severe stinging sensation in the mouth. Chippewas used this plant to treat sore eyes; others used the powdered root for headaches. Also it was used for snake bites, asthma, and rheumatism. Meskwaki's mixed the fresh roots with cooked meat in hopes that opposing warriors would eat it and become ill.

MAYAPPLE – Barberry family
Blooms May. Growing up to 18” high from large horizontal rootstock, this plant can have one or two large leaves per plant. Each leaf is broadly circular in shape and up to a foot across, has 5 - 9 deeply cut lobes. Each lob is veined and coarsely toothed. Single leafed plants do not bloom. The flower appears on a short stout stalk from the crotch of the stem. It has 6 - 9 waxy white petals.
The fruit is toxic until ripe (greenish-yellow) when it can be made into preserves or eaten raw. Native American used this plant to treat snakebites, syphilis, warts, urinary and bowel problems. The plant was boiled and the liquid poured onto potato plants as an insecticide.
I hope you are able to get out and enjoy spring and its beauty.Guide to Early Wildflowers

2010 Camping Season Fee's

Season Passes for 2010
$250.00 for the 2010 Camping Season Camping Season

Gilbertson Conservation Education Area
Gouldsburg Park
$12.00/night with electricity
$7.00/night without electricity
$7.00/night Equestrian Camping at Gilbertson

Dutton’s Cave Park
$8.00/night with electricity
$5.00/night without electricity

Goeken Park
Twin Bridges Park
Echo Valley State Park

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fayette County Conservation Board 2010

Fayette County Conservation Board – 2010 Board Members
Frank Olson, West Union
Donald Bunn, Maynard
Blake Gamm, Fayette
Jack Swanson, Arlington
Eric Boehm, Wadena

Full Time Staff 2010:
Rod Marlatt, Executive Director
Lonnie Robbins, Maintenance Supervisor
Dustin Schott, Park Ranger
Matt Ellis, Park Ranger - Gilbertson Conservation Education Area
Dawn L. Amundson, Environmental Education Coordinator
Sue Lueder, Office Manager/Naturalist
Jon Steege, Roadside Vegetation Manager
Jon Saboe, Assistant Roadside Vegetation Manager
Dan Harrington, Assistant Roadside Vegetation Manager

Main Office:
Wildwood Nature Center
18673 Lane Road
Fayette, Iowa 52142
Environmental Educaiton Program Headquarters:
Gilbertson Nature Center
22580 A Ave
Elgin, Iowa 52141

Welcome to the Fayette County Conservation Board's new Blog page!

This blog has been set up to help people of all ages learn more about the Fayette County Conservation Board; Recreational Areas that the Fayette County Conservation Board owns and / or manages; and Environmental Education Programs and materials avaible to the general public, schools, civic and youth groups and more.

To announce up coming events, public programs, fun things to see and / or do in the counties recreational, and more!

The blog may feature a Fayette County Conservation Board Recreational Area, an up coming event or program, staff information, board member information, and more.

The Fayette County Conservation Board encourages you to visit this blog at least once a week. The goal of the Fayette County Conservation Board staff is to list at least one new post a week if not more. So check back when you can!