The natural world

New business offers ecological consulting

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY LUKE GRAN
Leland M. Searles, formerly of Des Moines, now residing in Marshalltown, offers clients environmental restoration and ecological consulting, through his business Leeward Solutions, LLC. His services include stream stabilization, evaluating wetlands and woodlands, invasive and native plant management, prairie strip installation, and more. He recently released a 2018 Iowa Phenology calendar, which is currently available.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY LUKE GRAN Leland M. Searles, formerly of Des Moines, now residing in Marshalltown, offers clients environmental restoration and ecological consulting, through his business Leeward Solutions, LLC. His services include stream stabilization, evaluating wetlands and woodlands, invasive and native plant management, prairie strip installation, and more. He recently released a 2018 Iowa Phenology calendar, which is currently available.

Leland M. Searles, formerly of Des Moines, now residing in Marshalltown, offers clients a one-stop-shopping experience in environmental restoration and ecological consulting, through his business Leeward Solutions, LLC, first launched in 2009.

Searles, a native of Pennsylvania, has lived in Iowa most of his life. The sole-proprietor of this business, he doesn’t have an actual office in Marshalltown, but rather, works out of his truck.

“I accomplish a lot more on the move than having a steady office,” he said.

Armed with a doctorate degree in anthropology, and years working in ecology and phenology (the study of cycles and patterns in ecosystems), Searles is passionate about helping humans and nature coexist in mutually beneficial ways.

“The need for ecologically sound efforts at preserving our plants, prairies, streams, wetlands and wildlife has never been more pressing,” he said. “Yet the governmental agencies usually charged with this mission are facing ever more budget constraints and mission shrinkage. There is room here for private businesses to work with private and public entities, individual landowners, and urban residents to maintain environmental quality and natural resources as societal values.”

Searles can service all parts of the state, traveling the back roads of Iowa, where he feels most at home.

“I work mostly with landowners — county and private [entities],” he noted. “I emphasize natural designs to help with stream stabilization, flood control, native plant gardening, dealing with invasive species, wetland delineation and more.”

Recently, he has provided advice on how to build up the populations of native plant species along the roads of Scott and Marion counties.

Searles, who is the only full-time employee in his business, conducts the initial consultation, then brings in contractors to help him complete the work. He does follow-up monitoring to make sure the changes are benefiting both the clients and nature.

“It’s important to me to listen to the stories of the land from the landowners, because it’s part of why they want the land preserved or enhanced in some way,” he said. “It’s a constant learning process, and I ask myself, is this working according to natural principles?”

He noted he offers a cost-effective approach, helping clients get matched with government subsidies, when applicable.

As a new resident of Marshall County, he is eager to grow his clientele locally.

“Because of the rolling hills in this county, it would benefit from prairie strip installations — which is a voluntary practice that improves water quality and reduces nutrient and soil loss,” he said.

Searles has just released his 2018 Iowa Phenology calendar, which he designed, photographed and produced. It features special day-by-day information about migration times, breeding seasons, and flowering dates, applicable to Iowa and parts of adjacent states. People can learn everything from the start of raccoon mating season to when the black-capped chickadee starts its mating songs, the birthdays of famed environmentalists, and more.

For information, Searles may be reached at: 515-979-6457 or leewardecology3@gmail.com. More specific examples of his services can be found on his website: www.leewardecology.com

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com