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Being Neighborly in Iowa: Working with Landowners to Conserve the Tallgrass Prairie

National Wildlife Refuge Week: October 14-20, 2012

Mesic tallgrass prairie provides important breeding, migration and winter habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife species along the Mississippi River in Iowa. Photo by Alex Galt/USFWS.
Mesic tallgrass prairie provides important breeding, migration and winter habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife species along the Mississippi River in Iowa. Photo by Alex Galt/USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners have identified mesic tallgrass prairie and wet meadow habitats as high priority for restoration and enhancement in the Lower Iowa River Habitat Complex. These habitats are located in wetter areas of the tallgrass prairie and are typically dominated by big bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, prairie cordgrass and sedges. Tallgrass prairie was once the largest ecosystem in the United States, but is now one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet.

This southeastern Iowa complex consists of two divisions of Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, as well as multiple state and county wildlife management areas, and a variety of conservation easements on privately owned lands. Although much of this land is managed by government conservation agencies, there is a clear need to expand conservation efforts beyond the boundaries of public lands to meet larger scale conservation goals. To accomplish this task, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working outside of refuge boundaries, with partners and private landowners, through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. This program allows the service to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners who voluntarily restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat on their properties.

Port Louisa recently partnered with an adjacent landowner through the Partners Program to develop and implement a management plan that would meet the habitat objectives of both the landowner and our agency. Woody vegetation encroachment, especially by willow, is a major management issue in these floodplain systems. Prescribed burning and herbicide application are being used to manage willow on privately owned wetlands and the adjoining mesic tallgrass prairie. This activity mirrors the efforts of the refuge staff right next door and provides high quality habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds that is a limiting habitat type on the landscape.

Learn more about Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge by visiting us online: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/port_louisa/

- Alex Galt, Wildlife Biologist
Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge

 

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

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Last updated: November 4, 2013