The Gifford State Forest is a 40 acre timber located in Section 21 of Lewis township in Pottawattamie County. Since the area is within the Council Bluffs city limits, it is closed to hunting. The area is easily accessible by a gravel road along its east side.
The area was donated to the state by Dr. Gifford in 1944 as a blue heron rookery. Later the property was transferred to the Forestry Bureau after biologists determined that, because of changes in surrounding land use, herons no longer used the area.
Cottonwood is the primary tree species found on the area. American Elm, Green Ash, Silver Maple, Boxelder, Mulberry, European Black Alder and Honey Locust also grow there.
The area is an excellent wildlife refuge because it is the only forested area in the immediate vicinity.