Natural Areas Guidelines

Purple prairie clover in bloom.

Luther’s natural areas are open to students, faculty, and staff, and community members and visitors. For a safe and positive experience for all of those using Luther’s natural areas, please follow these guidelines as you enjoy the natural areas:

  • Multi-use of trails: The trails are designed primarily for pedestrian use. Bikers are allowed on marked trails on a trial basis, and will continue as long as there is no conflict with other users, degradation of trails or surrounding habitat. Bikers must stay on official trails and always yield to pedestrians. We suggest not using headphones while biking, as it reduces the possibility you will notice other trail users. Horses are not allowed on the trails. No motorized vehicles are permitted on the natural areas (except authorized Luther College vehicles). Winter users: please respect skiers by staying off ski trails.
  • Collection of plants, animals, or other items from the natural areas is prohibited, unless approved in writing by the natural areas land manager (and in some cases, the Land Use committee). See fishing exception.
  • Pets: Well-behaved dogs are allowed in the natural areas. Clean up after pets to make sure the area is clean for all users. If your dog is prone to hunting wildlife, they must be kept on a leash. Be aware that we occasionally use herbicide to treat invasive and/or nuisance species. For larger areas being treated, a notice will be posted on our website. 
  • Toxic plants and critters: Problem species that are common in northeast Iowa are also present on Luther’s lands, it would be helpful to be able to identify the following species. Wild parsnip, found in several of our grasslands and other open areas, is toxic to bare skin (in the presence of sunlight) and should be avoided. Poison ivy is present at low abundance in some wooded areas. As in the rest of the county, deer ticks that carry Lyme and other transmissible diseases are in the area. Use precautions and check yourself for deer ticks (much smaller than dog/wood ticks) when done with your hike.
  • Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species: Clean your shoes and gear prior to entering higher quality natural areas and before you leave (we have several invasive species being managed on Luther’s lands that are avid hitchhikers on shoes, clothing, and gear).
  • Alcoholic beverages and illegal substances are not allowed on any of Luther’s natural areas.
  • Overnight stays or camping are not allowed on the natural areas.
  • Creation of fire rings, clearings, structures (man-made or natural materials), or new trails is prohibited. Fires are prohibited in the natural areas, except by written permission from director of facilities department.
  • Fishing on the Upper Iowa River is allowed from Luther property, but must abide by local and state regulations. Hunting is not allowed on Luther lands. Many of our neighbors allow hunting, so please be aware of your surroundings during hunting season. 
  • Research or class use of the natural areas, other than observational use, must be submitted to the Land Use committee for approval. Flags and flagging must be removed upon completion of the study.