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Brenton Slough acquired by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

1,114-acre area includes wetlands, woodlands

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An aerial photo of the Brenton Slough, which has been purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. Photo courtesy of Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is acquiring a 1,114-acre area that straddles the northern border between Polk and Dallas counties, the organization announced.

The area, known as the Brenton Slough, includes wetlands, woodlands and oak savanna. A public road that goes through the area allows bird-watchers, nature photographers and others to view wildlife.

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The map shows the boundaries of the Brenton Slough.

The foundation was expected today to complete the acquisition of the property from the Brenton family, according to a news release. The foundation plans to transfer ownership and management to Polk County Conservation, making it among the largest one-time additions to park and wildlife land in Polk County’s history.

The Brenton family has farmed part of the land for more than 100 years and has long used the interior natural area as a retreat to spend time with family and friends. The property had been owned by the family members of Charles Robert “Bob” Brenton and Junius Clyde “Buz” Brenton, who are the sons of W. Harold Brenton and Etta Spurgeon Brenton, operating as Brenton Brothers Inc. and Brenton Farms Inc.

Bill Brenton, Bob Brenton’s son, has been the operating farm manager for decades.

In recent years, the borders of Johnston, Grimes, Granger and Urbandale have grown closer to the slough, one of 15 in Iowa.

“It became apparent to the family that the land should be held in perpetuity by an entity that can assure its preservation,” Bill Brenton said in the release. “We wanted a partner that could assure its preservation and provide it to the community as an asset to be protected and experienced.”

After improvements are made, the Brenton Slough is expected to be opened to the public, likely sometime in 2024, according to the release. Plans include mowed hiking paths and infrastructure for bird-watchers. A mixed-use trail that connects Grimes and Granger will likely run the property.

The project will cost an estimated $8 million. Polk County Conservation has identified $3 million in funding. In addition, $500,000 has been donated to the project. The foundation is helping with a public donation campaign. Grants are also being sought.

“This is nature being nature,” said Rich Leopold, director of Polk County Conservation. “We will let it thrive on its own where appropriate, and in other areas we’ll carefully manage the land to restore or improve it. It’s a vibrant, wild place we get to experience right here.”

More online: To learn more about the Brenton Slough, click here.


Kathy A. Bolten

Kathy A. Bolten is a senior staff writer at Business Record. She covers real estate & development, law & government and retail.

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