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Ducks Unlimited impressed with habitat management at Lake Odessa

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Moist soil plants responded favorably to management by DNR and FWS managers during summer 2006

WAPELLO, Iowa, October, 11, 2006 – Ducks Unlimited (DU) officials came away from a recent visit to the 6,600 acre Lake Odessa Wildlife Area/Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge complex greatly impressed with the waterfowl habitat conditions being provided by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Bill Ohde, DNR wildlife biologist, gave several Ducks Unlimited conservation directors and managers a boat and auto tour of both the state-managed and federally managed wildlife units at Lake Odessa and the Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.

“The habitat management being implemented by the DNR and the FWS has produced some of the best seasonal marsh habitat for migratory waterfowl that I’ve ever seen,” said Roger Pederson, Ducks Unlimited’s manager for Iowa conservation programs. “Both the DNR and the FWS should be commended for their efforts in providing this type of vitally critical habitat for waterfowl and a host of wildlife species.” The complex represents some of the last remaining, large tracts of seasonal wetland, prairie grassland, wet sedge meadow and floodplain forest found in eastern Iowa. It provides extremely important habitat for bird species that are in a rapid decline regionally and nationally.

Once abundant on the Mississippi River, seasonal riverine marshes were essentially eliminated with the construction of the lock and dam system on the river. That means the seasonal wetlands provided via active water level and vegetation management on the Lake Odessa complex are now more important to wildlife than ever.

The Lake Odessa complex supports 294 species of birds, including 33 species of ducks and geese, 40 species of waterbirds such as herons and egrets, 32 species of shorebirds, 26 species of hawks and owls, 7 species of woodpeckers, and 142 species of songbirds. Six federally listed Threatened and Endangered species and three Candidate species are known or suspected to visit the Lake Odessa complex.

“Thanks to the dedication and hard work of FWS and DNR staff at Lake Odessa, waterfowl produced in the Dakota and Canadian prairies will find abundant food resources at Lake Odessa during their long journey south this fall” added Ryan Heiniger, DU’s director of conservation programs for Minnesota and Iowa. “The table is set at Lake Odessa and if Mother Nature cooperates, waterfowl hunters should also benefit from the improved habitat conditions.”

With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands - nature’s most productive ecosystem - and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.

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