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Meeting to discuss proposed bird conservation area in Lower Loess Hills set for Aug. 17

HAMBURG – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will discuss its proposed designation of the region that includes Waubonsie State Park and Riverton and Forney Lake wildlife areas as a state Bird Conservation Area (BCA) at a public meeting on Aug. 17. 

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Waubonsie State Park’s Washawtee Lodge on Washawtee Rd., one half mile northeast of Bluff Rd. (Co. road L44), 4.5 miles north of Hamburg.

 “The proposed Lower Loess Hills BCA is especially unique and contains a wide variety of woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands, providing habitat for 128 nesting birds and 282 bird species overall, 92 of which are species of greatest conservation need,” said Bruce Ehresman, with the Iowa DNR’s Wildlife Diversity Program.

“From large forest birds like the broad-winged hawk and wood thrush, to savanna species like the barn owl and red-headed woodpecker, to declining grassland birds like eastern meadowlark and bobolink, this unique area encompasses a beautiful portion of the Loess Hills, along with riverine areas along the Missouri and East Nishnabotna rivers, providing an ideal southwestern Iowa setting for what can become Iowa’s twenty-fourth Bird Conservation Area.”  

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.

Creating Bird Conservation Areas remains a high priority for the Iowa DNR.

“Establishing a Bird Conservation Area helps draw attention to the needs of birds that are in trouble, while it allows the local community and concerned citizens an opportunity to take action to help these birds,” said Matt Dollison, wildlife management biologist for the DNR. “Declining species ranging from game birds like northern Bobwhite and blue-winged teal to nongame species such as whip-poor-will and belted kingfisher all can benefit from the creation of the Lower Loess Hills Bird Conservation Area.”

Dollison and Ehresman encourage anyone interested in bird conservation, bird watching, and improved natural resource management to join them for this informative public meeting. 

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