Connecting with the Land
by Jean Cutler Prior
|Over the course of many thousands of years, Iowas land has evolved into watersheds, soil types, natural habitats, geologic deposits, and groundwater aquifers. We connect with these earth systems while hiking along rock outcrops, scanning the horizon from a tractor seat, admiring a roadside prairie, fishing from a stream bank, or drinking from a water fountain. Tuning into the deeper aspects of these systems, recognizing and understanding them, is essential to sustaining our future here. Since Iowa established its borders in the 1840s, this land has been divided into counties, sectioned with roads, fenced into farm fields, and platted into lot lines. These artificial boundaries tend to distance us from the earth systems that continue their natural rhythms around and beneath us.|
|Wildcat Den State Park.|
Paul W. Johnson, Director of Iowas Department of Natural Resources, refers to Iowas ground as "working land," an apt phrase that suggests our states terrain is a "sleeves rolled up" sort of a place, focused on the job of nurturing green growth from a landscape of extraordinarily productive soils. And Iowas people are widely dispersed across the land, interacting of necessity with nearly all of the states terrain on a daily basis.
While Iowas "working land" sustains us economically, we also need to
experience and think about the land in different ways. The value of Iowas land
also includes the natural features that show us the rich diversity of our landscape prior
to cultivation. A "value-added crop" harvested from Iowas land can
be the growth of a sense of familiarity, respect, and stewardship for its natural systems
and their time-honored patterns and resources.
Adapted from Iowa Geology 1999, Iowa Department of Natural Resources