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Meeting set to discuss proposed bird conservation area

The public is invited to discuss a proposed bird conservation area (BCA) at a public meeting on Nov. 16. The BCA designation will include Indian Bluffs State Preserve and Pictured Rocks Wildlife Management Area in eastern Iowa's Jones County. 

"Creating bird conservation areas is a high priority for the Iowa DNR," says Bruce Ehresman, DNR Wildlife Diversity Program biologist. “The proposed Indian Bluffs-Pictured Rocks BCA is a very unique area containing woodland, grassland and wetland habitats that provide homes to at least 111 nesting bird species, many of which are declining at an alarming rate.” 

According to Ehresman, the unique area, encompassing a beautiful portion of the Maquoketa River, provides an ideal eastern Iowa setting for what can become Iowa’s 23rd bird conservation area.

”Birds of large forests, like the broad-winged hawk and wood thrush, savanna species such as the red-headed woodpecker and Baltimore oriole, to declining grassland birds like the eastern meadowlark and bobolink will benefit," says Ehresman.         

The bird conservation area concept focuses on all-bird conservation at a large-landscape scale, and the program’s success depends upon partnerships between public agencies, private conservation organizations and private landowners. Each BCA consists of at least 10,000 acres, with one or more core areas of permanently protected bird habitat surrounded by large areas of privately owned land that also provides important habitat for birds. Core public lands are managed for all wild birds, but especially for those species experiencing regional or continental population declines. 

Wildlife biologists and private lands specialists work with willing landowners to find ways to improve their properties for birds. Participation in this BCA program is completely voluntary, and there are no restrictions or requirements placed on landowners. The program can result in extra incentives for landowners to make bird habitat improvements.

“Establishing a bird conservation area helps draw attention to the needs of birds that are in trouble, while allowing the local community and concerned citizens an opportunity to help these birds," explains Curt Kemmerer, DNR wildlife biologist for the area. "Declining species ranging from game birds like American woodcock and ruffed grouse to nongame species such as whip-poor-will and belted kingfisher can benefit from the creation of the Indian Bluffs-Pictured Rocks Bird Conservation Area.”

Anyone interested in bird conservation, bird watching and improved natural resource management are encouraged to attend the informational public meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Jones County Conservation Central Park Nature Center, 12515 Central Park Rd., two miles west of Center Junction.

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