STORM LAKE, Iowa – Aug. 31, 2016 – Today, Ducks Unlimited hosted Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and Senator Joni Ernst for a tour of the Little Storm Lake project site. More than 30 Iowa DU volunteers gathered for the tour, where conversations focused on DU's Living Lakes Initiative, community involvement in the project and water quality policy.
"Ensuring future generations of Iowans have access to clean water, spaces to recreate and healthy wildlife habitat is a great concern," said Tammi Kircher, Iowa state chairwoman for DU. "The Little Storm Lake project is an excellent example of conservation dollars at work for Iowans and I thank Senator Ernst and Governor Branstad for joining us today."
Storm Lake Mayor and DU volunteer Jon Kruse, DU Regional Biologist Mike Shannon and Kircher addressed the crowd on behalf of DU. This project is a part of DU's Living Lakes Initiative, which was established to perpetually protect and manage shallow lakes and large marshes from north-central Iowa through northern Minnesota, providing wetland food and habitat for migrating and breeding waterfowl. The initiative also helps preserve this region's rich waterfowling heritage, an important economic driver for the state. Iowa sportsmen and women spend more than $770 million a year pursuing their outdoor passions.
"I'm grateful for the chance to tour the project site with folks from Ducks Unlimited," said Senator Ernst. "Iowa is the home to many hunters and fishermen, so water quality projects are important to help improve the wildlife habitat and at the same time, promote a vibrant recreational economy. As Congress continues its work this fall and beyond, we will tackle several important items such as the Water Resources Development Act which provides funding for flood mitigation, the rehabilitation of aging dams, and studies involving water resource development and conservation. I am hopeful we can get that completed soon."
"I've been a member of Ducks Unlimited for many years and I appreciate the opportunity to tour Little Storm Lake today with other Ducks Unlimited members to get a look first-hand at how their conservation model is working to protect our valuable resources," said Governor Branstad.
Little Storm Lake is a unique, community-based project that involved the City of Storm Lake, the Storm Lake Preservation Association, the Iowa DNR, and Ducks Unlimited working together to improve water quality in Storm Lake. The little lake encompasses 190 acres. Approximately 70 percent of the watershed flows through Little Storm Lake and into Storm Lake. The project includes a water-control structure between Little Storm Lake and Storm Lake and the construction of a pumping station and associated equipment. The project was designed to slow inflow into Storm Lake, allowing the wetland to capture sediment and excess nutrients before water entered the lake.
Conservation measures such as these restore natural hydrology and environmental processes that allow the system to effectively filter contaminants, absorb flood waters and provide critical wildlife habitat. This type of conservation delivery is enabled by federal and state funding programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Iowa Shallow Lakes Program. Support for these existing funding sources and new conservation funding mechanisms, such as the Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, is essential for the future health of Iowa's natural resources and citizens.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13.8 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.