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MONTICELLO – A public ceremony to dedicate the Indian Bluffs and Pictured Rocks wildlife areas including the privately owned Indian Bluffs State Preserve as Iowa’s newest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) will take place on May 10 at 1:30 p.m. The event will be held at the Pictured Rocks Pavilion, located about four miles southeast of Monticello at the east end of 190th Street and just north of the boat ramp, located on the west side of the South Fork Maquoketa River.
With assistance from Jones County Conservation Board, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting the dedication that will include brief presentations and the unveiling of a special Bird Conservation Area sign. There will be refreshments, and following the ceremony there will be a short bird and wildflower walk within Pictured Rocks Wildlife Area.
This unique area is one of eastern Iowa’s most species-rich grassland/savanna/forest habitats, with 243 species of birds identified here so far.
“Designating this complex as a Bird Conservation Area will add to its recognition by indicating its importance for nesting and migratory grassland, savanna, and forest birds,” said Bruce Ehresman, DNR wildlife diversity program biologist.
“It provides important nesting habitat for declining grassland birds, such as Eastern meadowlark and bobolink; for declining savanna birds like red-headed woodpeckers and state endangered barn owls, and for declining forest birds like wood thrush and Eastern whip-poor-will; plus this area provides migration stopover habitat for a large number of other bird species suffering nationwide declines.”
Once home to the now extinct passenger pigeon, this area also is rich in cultural history, from the extended time period when it was inhabited by American Indians to the time when Euro-Americans arrived and settled.
This new BCA is expecting to attract bird enthusiasts from throughout the region and beyond. Watching wildlife is a $318 million industry in Iowa, and more bird and other wildlife appreciators visiting this area will support the growing local tourism economy and encourage investment in local bird conservation.
“The designation of the Indian Bluffs-Pictured Rocks Bird Conservation Area serves to recognize the excellent teamwork of many partners, cooperating to emphasize the importance of habitat for all birds. State, federal, and county conservation agencies, working together with private conservation organizations and citizens have made this BCA dedication possible,” said Curt Kemmerer, DNR wildlife biologist and Maquoketa Wildlife Unit manager.
The event is open to the public.