Bird Conservation Area Proposed In Fremont County

HAMBURG – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has scheduled an Aug. 17 public meeting regarding establishing a bird conservation area along the Missouri River and loess hills in Fremont County.

Wildlife biologist Bruce Ehresman said the 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Washawtee Lodge at Waubonsie State Park will describe the conservation program and the proposed boundaries of the bird conservation area.

Ehresman: “Basically we’re trying to bring attention to this area as being a special area for birds. It truly is a special area. Within the boundary that we’re drawing for this particular bird conservation area, it’s about 25 percent woodland, 25 percent grassland and at least 5 percent wetlands, so rivers, marshes and that sort of thing.”

The Bird Conservation Area concept focuses on all-bird conservation at a large landscape scale, and Ehresman said the program’s success depends upon partnerships between public agencies, private conservation organizations and private landowners.

Each area 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.

Ehresman said the the birding area is a high priority for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Ehresman: “The bird diversity here is the greatest of any – this is our 24th bird conservation area that we’re working on – no other bird conservation area has this many species. We’ve documented 282 species. Of the 282 species, 128 of them nest within this area.”

He said bird species include broad-winged hawks, eastern meadowlarks and barn owls. The area also includes Forney Lake, which is known for its wetland birds.

Matt Dollison, wildlife management biologist, said 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.

Dollison: “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.”

The proposed boundary follows the Nishnabotna and Missouri Rivers north into Mills County.

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