The Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation has committed $750,000 to Ducks Unlimited to help protect valuable land in Dickinson County, Iowa, for wildlife habitat, water quality, and public recreation.

DU will use the gift to help fund a $1.2 million conservation project that includes the acquisition of a 159-acre parcel of former agricultural land from the Reed family. East of Okoboji, in the heart of Iowas Great Lakes region, the land will be turned over to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the establishment of a new wildlife management area.

More than 90 percent of Iowas original wetlands have been lost. The Reed property contains a mix of prairie and wetlands. Protecting this land from future development and restoring wetlands and grasslands is a priority for DU in Iowa.

Ducks Unlimited was great to work with as they presented my foundation the opportunity to invest in another conservation project benefiting the Okoboji area. The farmland purchase was a good match given my passions for preservation of land and history, says foundation President Andrea Waitt Carlton.

In addition to improving local water quality, acquisition and future restoration of this mix of prairie, wetlands, and cropland will provide public access for recreation and habitat for pollinators, waterfowl, and other wildlife.

Ducks Unlimited applauds the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation for showing leadership in the conservation of Iowas natural lands, says Dominic Lawrence, DU director of development in Iowa. Its because of partnerships like these that DU has protected, restored, or enhanced nearly 80,000 acres of wetlands and grasslands across the state.

Irene Reed and the Bendixen family owned the property for nearly 83 years, and they wanted to see the land protected for wildlife and recreational use. Thanks to the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation and other supporters, DU will pay fair market value for this invaluable piece of waterfowl habitat.

Landowners are proud of their property, they respect the land, and they appreciate the importance of a healthy ecosystem, says Mike Shannon, DU regional biologist in Iowa.

The Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation, now in its 22nd year, serves selected regional communities and national interests. Primary areas of funding include founding father principles, conservation education and land preservation, animal dignity, and selected cultural arts projects.