How long have you been working to protect and reconstruct prairies?
Our first prairie planting was in 1975 along a roadside; it is still in existence and continues to develop. We presently have about 250 prairie acres we own or help manage.
What species of plants or animals are you especially interested in?
My focus is on species diversity of both plants and animals. We strive to attain the highest species diversity possible.
How do you merge your photography and writing with your hands-on reconstruction work?
Photography has been a way to record the successional development of prairie plantings and the seasonal changes in the prairie community. It has been a very good way to promote the prairie to the general public.
What has changed in the outdoor world since your first days of trying to protect it? What's better, what's worse?
More prairies are now being planted than at any time in the past 150 years as wildlife habitat, buffer strips, wetland mitigations, and just for pleasure. Diversity is still not what it should be to produce the best habitat and long-term stability.
What advice would you give to beginning conservationists? What are the particular challenges of being a conservationist in the Midwest?
If you are just beginning, be prepared to hang in there for the long haul—changes do not come about quickly on a landscape scale. But if you could look back 30 years, you would see that we have made tremendous strides.
What are your favorite natural areas in Iowa and the Midwest? What areas do you return to constantly, and what's your favorite newly visited area?
My favorite natural area is where I live simply because it so accessible. We generally visit a number of local marshes and virgin prairies on a regular basis. These are areas which are close by and do not require a lot of traveling to get to.
Interview with Carl Kurtz, A Practical Guide to Prairie Reconstruction