Originally founded in 1979, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) is a private nonprofit land conservation organization with a mission to “protect and restore Iowa’s land, water and wildlife.” The organization initially began to help land and trails get into public ownership. However, it did not take long for the INHF to expand; soon it also went on to aid permanent land protection, multi-use trail establishment, active land stewardship and conservation.
“We first discovered INHF a couple of years ago. We started to distribute beer in Iowa, so we wanted to partner with a local organization as a way to give back to the community that loves (and drinks) our beers. We found INHF and were very impressed with the environmental work they were doing and thought it fit perfectly with SGAD’s [Surly Gives A Damn] mission,” said Krissy Welle, Surly Brewing Company’s Surly Gives A Damn coordinator.
Today, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation works with a variety of organizations throughout the state of Iowa in order to not only complete its mission, but also connect people with the outdoors and with each other.
“We work statewide to do all kinds of events in all seasons,” Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation volunteer coordinator Mary Runkel said. “The [Snyder Heritage Farm] event was just one such event.”
One of these organizations, Surly Brewing Company, recently traveled from Minnesota to Elkhart in order to help remove invasive species and restore the Snyder Heritage Farm.
What was once a 160-acre privately owned farm, the Snyder Heritage Farm is now an exquisite blend of restored prairie, oak savanna, woodland and wetland. With the help of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation representatives, members of the Surly Gives A Damn team worked this past June to help restore the health of the natural Iowa prairie land at the farm.
“Invasive species tend to outcompete native species for water and sunlight, altering ecosystems and creating a huge problem in Iowa,” Runkel said.
In addition to helping the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation here in the Des Moines area, coming up in August, Surly Gives A Damn will also assist the Bur Oak Land Trust in Iowa City, along with other nonprofits in Minnesota and South Dakota.
“Our mission is to get involved by providing volunteer and charitable donation support to community-based partners. We follow through with this mission by organizing volunteer events and providing donations to non-profits working in the communities where our beer is sold. The program started with seven volunteer projects in 2010. It was wonderful seeing the beauty of Snyder Heritage Farm and meeting folks working in the community. We are excited to work with INHF again in the future,” Welle said.