Partnerships improve 1,400 acres in Iowa

DU protected, enhanced or restored 1,447 wetland acres in Iowa in 2020.

Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Palo.

Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area, Palo.

Ducks Unlimited and numerous partners invested $1.4 million to protect, enhance or restore 1,447 acres of wetland and grassland habitat in Iowa in 2020, greatly improving water quality and wildlife habitat.

The milestones in 2020 were achieved with field staff taking extra precautions and using creative solutions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The acres conserved added to a sizeable historical investment in Iowa. Over the last 30 years, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 80,000 wetland and grassland acres across the state, investing more than $33 million in wetland habitats.

Numerous partners contributed to the projects, with funding from the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation, corporate partners such as Microsoft and NestlĂ© Purina and federal programs such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. 

“Nearly 90% of Iowa’s wetlands have been lost due to human development,” said Mike Shannon, DU regional biologist for Iowa. “Our landscape-level conservation efforts help more than ducks. Wetlands benefit local residents by reducing flooding risk, improving water quality and boosting the economy.” 

Highlights from 2020 include:

  • Significant statewide partnership – Iowa has developed a Nutrient Reduction Strategy goal of 45% reduction in nitrogen entering waterways. To achieve that goal, Ducks Unlimited and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship entered into a three-year, $1.6 million agreement to identify, plan and design wetlands across the Prairie Pothole Region. The agreement builds on years of successful conservation actions by DU.
  • Klum Lake – DU’s Big Rivers Initiative in Iowa took a major step forward recently with the completion of the Klum Lake Enhancement project near Wapello. This project replaced a dilapidated water-control structure on the outlet of the lake and greatly improved the DNR’s ability to manage wetland habitat.
  • Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area – DU and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources recently enhanced a 90-acre oxbow wetland on Chain of Lakes Wildlife Management Area near Palo. The project installed new water-management structures and repaired previous flood damage to improve habitat within the Cedar River floodplain.

For a complete report of 2020 activities and a look into what’s planned for 2021 and beyond, see the Iowa Conservation Report or visit