Neff Wetland was originally a wetland mitigation site for the DOT and that donation was made possible because of the collaboration of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation. The area will be used for environmental purposes by Jefferson County Conservation. Over 100 different species of birds have been documented in the area.
This tract has excellent public access since the portion of the Fairfield Loop Trail runs through the center of the area.
Dave Neff purchased the 36 acres on the eastern edge of Fairfield in 1999, back when it was farmland. “Tadpoles were swimming in the bean field,” he said. “It didn’t want to be cropland. It wanted to be a wetland.”
Dave put in an application to the DOT’s wetland mitigation program, and with highway construction happening in adjacent Keokuk County, they were plunged into the thick of converting the field within their first year of ownership.
The Neff Wetland is already familiar to residents of Fairfield who frequent the crushed limestone path along the dike. It is bisected by part of the 16-mile Loop Trail that encircles the town of Fairfield, linking Lamson Woods State Preserve to the south with the trails heading to Chautauqua Park.
“This is a little piece of country life, with country sounds and fresh air,” Sheri Neff said. “You’ll see black snakes tangled in the cattails, sunning themselves. You can hear the coyotes at night crying and chasing. You’ll see ducklings being kicked out of the nest. There are deer tracks and trails weaving through. Our neighbor says it’s a sure sign of spring when he opens the windows and hears the chorus of frogs. It’s a chance to see what the different seasons bring.”