Carl Kurtz lives “on the edge of the lobe” near St. Anthony, Iowa on the farm his father purchased in 1930. Over time, Kurtz and his wife, Linda, have transformed this land. The pair have added four wetlands that treat the tile water from surrounding cropland, enrolled seven acres of land into CRP, and they have converted a staggering 90 acres to prairie which buffers all of the 75 acres of leased row crop acres. With these changes, Kurtz hopes to control runoff water from his land, to create wildlife habitat and to manage the land for plant and animal diversity.
“It’s the diversity that’s important, not particular species so much,” Kurtz commented. He started restoring his prairie in 1975 and by 1988, he began harvesting seeds from native species prairie plants and selling the mixed seed to a variety of customers. Today, Kurtz’s prairie land supports over 100 different species of plants. His wetlands support scores of emergent vegetation, nesting ducks and five species of amphibians.
Kurtz has a degree in Fish and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University, and his interest in wildlife has spurred a career in photography. Kurtz’s nature photos are featured weekly in the Ames Tribune. As he searches for candid shots of wildlife, he states, “Photography is another form of hunting . . . Every day, you see something interesting behavior-wise with birds, and you try to take a photo of it. You learn something from that process. You may see something you’ve never seen before, just based on behavior. And then [the photos are] a great educational tool to help others.”