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Rain Forest a Unique Learning Opportunity

Daryl Smith

[Member of the Board, The (Coralville Rain Forest) Environmental Project]

Des Moines Register Letters

August 25, 2005

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

As one involved in prairie restoration and reconstruction for more than 30 years, I support large-scale prairie reconstruction/restoration projects. I was heavily involved in the early planning of the prairie and savanna reconstruction/restoration at the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge and continue to be an advocate of the project.

I also support and recommend the Iowa Environmental Project in Coralville. Initially I was skeptical about a proposed tropical rain-forest reconstruction in Coralville and held the opinion that a large-scale prairie-reconstruction project would be more representative of the state. However, upon much thought and reflection, I concluded the proposed rain forest is a unique environmental education opportunity and an asset to Iowa.

When I joined the board of directors, I planned to vigorously represent tallgrass prairies and make every possible effort to maximize it in the Iowa Environmental Project.

For tourism, the rain forest is ideally located for attracting large numbers of people. Visitors initially attracted by the tropical rain forest will learn about other unique ecosystems like tallgrass prairie, oak savanna and fossil tropical rain forests of Iowa's geological past. All visitors will be exposed to dioramas and educational materials of these ecosystems.

An indoor rain forest and associated educational opportunities have the added advantage of year-round availability for tourism. There is also the opportunity for educational interpretation of energy conservation and alternative energy.

-Daryl Smith,
Cedar Falls.