KEOSAUQUA – A public ceremony to dedicate Lake Sugema Wildlife Management Area, Lacey-Keosauqua State Park, Shimek State Forest Keosauqua Unit, and a portion of the Fox River watershed as Iowa’s newest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) will take place on October 15 at 1:30 pm. at the Lacey-Keosauqua State Park Lodge.
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 driving tour of the area.
This unique area is one of southeastern Iowa’s most species-rich grassland/savanna/forest habitats, said Bruce Ehresman, wildlife diversity program biologist for the Iowa DNR.
“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,” Ehresman said. “It provides important nesting habitat for declining grassland birds, such as state threatened Henslow’s sparrows and northern bobwhites, for declining savanna birds like red-headed woodpeckers and state endangered barn owls, and for declining forest birds like Kentucky warblers and Acadian flycatchers; plus the area provides migration stopover habitat for a large number of other bird species suffering nationwide declines.”
This area also is rich in cultural history, from the extended time period when it was inhabited by Native Americans to the time when Euro-Americans arrived and Mormons traveled through. One of its most famous namesakes, U.S. Representative John F. Lacey, was instrumental in the passage of several monumental conservation bills, signed into law by President Theodore Roosevelt.
This new BCA has the potential to attract bird enthusiasts from throughout the region and beyond, Ehresman said. Watching wildlife is a $318 million industry in Iowa, and more birders visiting this area will support the growing local tourism economy and encourage investment in local bird conservation.
“The designation of the Lake Sugema-Lacey-Keosauqua 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 possible,” said Jeff Glaw, DNR wildlife biologist and Sugema Wildlife Unit manager.
The public is welcome to attend this event. Bird appreciators and all other wildlife conservationists are asked to help celebrate the dedication of this important Bird Conservation Area and also to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats.