Rewilding Iowa, Bit by Bit: Leland Searles on the Big River Connectivity Program

Leland Searles will speak about rewilding Iowa on Thursday, February 27, at the Eco Barn in Fairfield.

By some estimates, only 3 percent of Iowa’s land remains “wild”—mostly as parks and public lands, and it’s in bits and pieces all over the state, filled with decidedly unwild features like parking lots, campgrounds, and artificial lakes. This “nature in pieces” approach has had a devastating effect on Iowa’s biodiversity, since many species need ample habitat to thrive. After all this loss and segmentation, can Iowa be rewilded?

Marshalltown eco-consultant Leland Searles says it’s possible. He’s part of a “loosely knit group of volunteers with a passion for wild things” called BeWildReWild” that thinks Iowa is ripe for rewilding. Searles will speak about the Big River Connectivity program, a project of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s BeWildReWild program, on Thursday, February 27, 6:30-9 p.m. at the Eco Barn, 2143 185th St., in Fairfield. The event is hosted by the Sustainable Living Coalition.

Searles will introduce the idea of rewilding and its many benefits to Iowa’s land and people. A prominent voice in ecological design, Searles has been working to bring a greater understanding of the current Midwestern landscape dilemma, as well as its potential to blossom with restored groundwater flow, prairie areas, wetlands, and woodlands.

If you’d like to hear more about what it means to be wild and how we can create a more beautiful, biologically diverse, and enduring Mississippi River watershed, join the discussion! The potluck starts at 6:30 p.m. and Leland Searles begins his talk at 7:30 p.m., followed by Q&A and discussion.

The Sustainable Living Coalition is excited to announce that a major rewilding conference is coming to Fairfield on April 11, cosponsored by the Sierra Club of Iowa and the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Look for details next month.

For more information on rewilding and Leland Searles, visit and