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Jefferson County Conservation Board, Fairfield, Iowa

Our Newsletter, Naturally Speaking, is on-line.

Our latest Naturally Speaking newsletter is on-line - see the August 2018 Edition here (a PDF).

It is also featured in the Fairfield Ledger four times a year, and individuals can request to have it emailed to them.


Below are selected articles from previous Naturally Speaking magazines.

"Test Your Knowledge of Nature", Summer 2004

"Trails and Railroads", Autumn 2003


Test Your Knowledge of Nature


Nature Quiz Show is a game often played at the park on days when bad weather forces a visiting school group indoors. During the game, participants are challenged with a series of questions about the sights and sounds of nature. Here's a sampling of 15 questions. How many can you get correct? Answers are listed below. NO PEEKING

Nature Quiz Show

  • 1. Name the seven species of woodpeckers found in Iowa.
  • 2. Name the three flashing colors of fireflies.
  • 3. True or False? Rabbits digest their food twice
  • 4. True or False? Frogs shed their skin.
  • 5. What weather related information can you get from the chirping of a cricket?
  • 6. Where are a cricket's eardrums located?
  • 7. What makes up 60 - 90% of the bald eagle's diet?
  • 8. True or False. A turtle can crawl out of its shell.
  • 9. True or False. North American rabbits dig holes to live in.
  • 10. What is Iowa's fastest snake and what is its top speed?
  • 11. True or False. Frogs have teeth.
  • 12. What member of the dog family can readily climb a tree?
  • 13. What is the largest snake species in Iowa?
  • 14. What are the three most common, permanent resident owls in Iowa?
  • 15. What is the only mammal in North America that uses venomous saliva to subdue larger prey?

1-Downy, hairy, red-bellied, red-headed, yellow bellied sapsucker, northern flicker, and pileated.
2. Green, yellow and orange.
3. True. Food goes into the stomach, is partially digested, and is defecated as a soft, jelly-like pellet. The rabbit then eats this pellet, digests it, and defecates again. The second type of pellet is the harder pellet we often see on the ground.
4. True. A frog's skin is shed as the animal outgrows it. Usually, the frog eats the cast off skin.
5. Temperature. Count the number of cricket chirps in a fifteen-second period and add 38. The resulting number is remarkably close to the temperature in Fahrenheit.
6. On their knees (on the front legs.)
7. Fish. Fun fact: Eagles have a special locking mechanism for their talons. When the open talons hit their prey, they instantly close and cannot be opened again until the eagle pushes down on a solid surface.
8. False. A turtle's shell is attached to the rest of its body by the backbone.
9. False. Our rabbits do not dig holes to live in like European rabbits do. Rabbits here make forms - shallow depressions in the ground, usually under a dense thicket - and line them with fur and soft grass when having their young.
10. The blue racer. Despite its name, its top speed is about 4 miles per hour.
11. True. Most frogs have tiny teeth on their upper jaws, which are used ONLY to hold prey, not to chew it. Toads are toothless.
12. The gray fox. Gray fox will climb trees to seek refuge or to search for roosting birds.
13. The bull snake. The record length is over eight feet.
14. Screech, great horned, and barred owls.
15. The short-tailed shrew. Shrews are the smallest and most common mammals in North America. Of the four species found in Iowa, the short-tailed shrew is the largest (at 4 to 5 inches in length) and has poisonous saliva. Delivered with a bite, the toxin slows down or kills prey, and can cause soreness and swelling in humans.

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Trails and Railroads - Autumn 2003 Issue


By Ron Meyers, Park and Trail Technician

Did you know that some of the trails in Jefferson County Park and on the Jefferson County Trail System are over one hundred years old?

It's true. Sort of, anyway. Approximately 5.5 miles of the trails are on the grades of old relocated or abandoned railroad rights-of-way.

These old railroads make excellent recreational trails, also referred to as "linear parks".

Railroads, at least in part, were built to serve the public, and provide transportation and link communities. As trails, they are continuing to meet those goals.

All three entrances to Jefferson County Park are on old railroad right-of-ways. The main entrance off of Libertyville Road and the trail straight north of it to the Erma Hartman Memorial Trail are part of the Chicago & South Western Railroad built in the 1800's. It later became the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad. In the 1940's this railroad was relocated between Libertyville and Fairfield. The CRI&P RR went bankrupt in the 1970's and was abandoned by 1980.

This relocated railroad right-of-way make up the northwest entrance to the park, called North Access Trail, from 32nd street to the park. The northeast entrance to the park is the Erma Hartman Memorial Trail which runs from Jackson Street, through Oakwood Nursery to the park. Most of this trial is also on the old CRI&P RR.

Other sections of the trail system using the CRI&P RR right-of-way include the Cedar View Trail from 32nd street 1.5 miles west to 223rd street. Also, 1.3 miles of the Loop Trail through the MUM Campus, from North B Street to the County Engineer's shop on 8th and Gear, is on this railroad right-of-way.

In addition there is a small section of trail in Whitham Woods and Chautauqua Park that are part of the first railroad that went through Fairfield. This was a single track railroad built in 1858 by the Burlington & Missouri Railroad. Parts of this railroad were later relocated and the entire system was made into a double track railroad. It became the Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad, then the Burlington Northern Railroad. Today, still serving Fairfield and Jefferson County, we know it as the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe Railroad.

Well, that's the history lesson for this time. Next time you're out on the North Access Trail or the Cedar View Trail take a look at the cuts and fills that were required to create this nice level rail and now trail. It's pretty awesome, and easy to see now that the leaves are off the trees.

Pictures: We would love to be able to get reproductions of pictures of the old CRI&P RR, especially any with trains in them or of the old Cedar Creek Wood Truss Bridge. If you have any we might be able to use please call us at 472-4421.

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Mission Statement
Our mission is to enhance the quality of life in Jefferson County by acquiring, developing and managing public areas so that its citizens will have opportunities for quality outdoor recreation experiences, and to cultivate good land stewardship through natural history and environmental education activities.

Jefferson County Conservation Board, 2003 Libertyville Road, Fairfield, IA 52556
Call: 641-472-4421    Fax: 641-472-7911   E-mail: jeffersonccb@lisco.com
Updated 12-23-16


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