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Lizard Lake Wildlife Management Area in Pocahontas County has received a massive facelift over the past 10 years turning what was once a shallow lake full of rough fish that suffered from severely degraded water quality to a healthy functioning ecosystem with some of the best water quality in the state.
This process of change is slated to continue this fall when the trees that surround the northern fringe of Lizard Lake will be removed.
The north end of Lizard Lake boasts a high-quality prairie reconstruction that is currently home to hundreds of native plants. Those deep-rooted plants are not only home to many native fauna, but also serve to protect the lake from excess sediment and nutrients.
This fragile prairie ecosystem is under a constant state of attack from woody invasion, primarily unwanted tree encroachment. While using prescribed fire is an extremely effective tool, sometimes the prairie needs additional help to thrive. At Lizard Lake, this means removing some of the large deciduous trees that serve as the seed source for this prairie invasion. This will ensure that the prairie itself and the grassland dependent species that call it home can endure.
“We have to be aware that our grassland birds are declining more rapidly than any other group of North American birds and these declines can be linked to the loss and degradation of our grassland habitats,” said Clint Maddix, wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR. “Many studies indicate that woody vegetation has a negative effect on the abundance and nesting success of both game and nongame grassland birds. Simply put, large trees that are closely associated with grasslands negatively impact most grassland dependent species.”
The work is expected to be completed before spring.