Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Department of Natural Resources’
Friday, July 19th, 2013
Iowa’s Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter is the recipient of the Iowa Governor’s Environmental Excellence award for an upland habitat project that’s helping create cleaner water for the city of Remsen. The project has the potential to revolutionize the way rural towns and cities across the country can effectively clean up and maintain a safe water supply while simultaneously creating wildlife habitat.
In 2007, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) named Remsen as a city with high nitrate contaminant levels – nearly three times the maximum – in its well water. In fact, the water from eight wells on 90 acres of farmland needed to be blended before being safe to drink. The city was faced with three choices: purchase drinking water from an outside source, build a multi-million dollar filtration plant or take a risk and try planting native prairie on the well land to naturally treat the water.
Remsen received grants and low-interest loans to purchase the land, and the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter handled the planting of native grasses, providing $15,000 in seed, labor and equipment for this innovative way to treat the city of Remsen’s drinking water.
Since the planting in 2009, the community has seen a decrease in the nitrate levels and the water is now safe to drink without being blended. Nitrate levels have fallen from 27 parts per billion to around 5 or 6 parts per billion (10 parts per billion is the maximum contaminant level). The site is also being used as an outdoor classroom and the community can use the mowed walking paths to view the grasses, wildflowers, pheasants, songbirds and other prairie animals.
In addition to being part of an innovative, cost-effective project that benefits every citizen in Remsen, the Plymouth County Pheasants Forever chapter was also able to accomplish two of its goals. “One is to plant habitat, and the second is to educate our youth about conservation. This fell into both of those categories,” said Mike Slota, a past youth chairperson and active member of the chapter.
No other community in the state or nation has used this solution to treat groundwater and the land will now remain a native prairie.
The D.C. Minute is written by Dave Nomsen, Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever’s Vice President of Governmental Relations.
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
Iowa’s pheasant population is expected to increase for the first time in six years, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
The rosier outlook is buoyed by a mild winter and warm spring. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ nesting forecast, that plugs current weather conditions into a model with 50 years of corresponding data, predicts Iowa’s pheasant population will increase by more than 40 percent.
“We should see our first statewide pheasant increase in more than six years,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR.
“This is the best combination of winter and spring weather we’ve seen for ground nesting birds since 2003. Over the last 50 years we’ve seen similar weather conditions to this past winter and spring about six times and the average increase in pheasant populations those years was 42 percent.” Bogenschutz said this model is correct about 80 percent of the time.
The favorable spring will allow upland bird populations to expand and reoccupy available grassland habitats where they have been depleted over the last five severe winters, said Bogenschutz.
Unfortunately Iowa has seen a significant drop in general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) habitat, falling from 1.97 million acres in 2007 to 1.66 million acres last fall. However, Iowa has not faired as bad as other states like Minnesota and the Dakotas, where CRP loses have been even greater.
Iowa has also had a couple of very successful continuous CRP sign-ups – thanks in part to Pheasants Forever’s 12 Farm Bill biologists in the state – and just submitted a new proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) targeted at recovering pheasant populations in Iowa. USDA will also roll out a new highly erodible lands continuous CRP program this summer and Iowa should be very competitive with these acres. If approved both of these continuous CRP practices should help recovery pheasant populations.