A new cooperative agreement between the Great Plains Regional Office of Ducks Unlimited (GPRO-DU) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will accelerate conservation work in Iowa. In response to DU’s launch of the Living Lakes initiative last year, the DNR rose to the challenge to do even more for waterfowl, wetlands and hunters in Iowa. The cooperative agreement, signed recently by DNR Director Jeff Vonk and GPRO-DU Director Jeff Nelson, confirms and formalizes each partner’s $500,000 commitment over the next five years for a total of $1 million in habitat work.
“This agreement strengthens our commitment to delivering more conservation work in Iowa through DU’s Living Lakes initiative and the important partnership we have with the DNR to do that work,” said Nelson.
The focus of the new agreement is to restore and enhance shallow lakes and large marshes. These habitats provide critical food resources for migrating ducks in the spring and fall. Unfortunately, many of these lakes and marshes are degraded due to rough fish, high water levels and runoff, which reduces the availability of natural food for ducks and other wetland dependent wildlife. This work will also improve water quality.
“Iowa has the most altered landscape in the nation,” said Vonk. “This agreement reaffirms our commitment and partnership with DU to restore critical habitat for breeding and migratory waterfowl and other wildlife for current and future generations of Iowa's citizens.”
DU biologists and DNR managers will now evaluate and prioritize shallow lake and large marsh projects. DU engineering staff will also play an important role by helping to design water control structures, fish barriers, pumps and other devices to enable active water level management.
The DNR and DU have been working together to improve wetlands and waterfowl habitat for more than 30 years. Since DU opened its Great Plains Regional Office in 1984, DNR and DU have collaborated to complete dozens of projects conserving habitat in Iowa. In 2000, DU and the DNR signed a five-year, $200,000 cooperative agreement to expand the already solid partnership and further our mutual goals of conserving important habitats. Four projects have been completed since that agreement, restoring or enhancing 145 acres.