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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa – Oct. 7, 2020 – The Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation committed $750,000 to Ducks Unlimited to help protect nearly 160 acres of land for wildlife habitat, water quality and public recreation in Dickinson County.
Ducks Unlimited will use the gift to help fund a $1.2 million conservation project to acquire a 159-acre former farm from the Reed family east of Okoboji in the heart of the Iowa 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.
“Ducks Unlimited was great to work with as they presented my Foundation the opportunity to invest in another conservation project benefiting the Okoboji area,” said Andrea Waitt Carlton. “The farmland purchase was a good match given my passions for preservation of land and history.”
Wetlands act as nature’s kidney’s, filtering pollutants that wash off the landscape during rains. Acquisition and future restoration of this mix of prairies, wetlands and cropland will improve local water quality, increase public-use lands within the state and provide wildlife habitat for pollinators, waterfowl and other wildlife and birds.
“Ducks Unlimited applauds the Andrea Waitt Carlton Family Foundation for showing leadership in the conservation of Iowa’s natural lands,” said Dominic Lawrence, Ducks Unlimited director of development in Iowa. “It’s because of partnerships like these that DU has protected, restored or enhanced nearly 80,000 acres of wetlands and grasslands across the state.”
The Reed property contains a mix of prairies and wetlands. Human development in Iowa drained more than 90 percent of the state’s wetlands and protecting this land from future development and restoring wetlands and grasslands is a priority for Ducks Unlimited.
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 Ducks Unlimited supporters, DU will pay fair market value for an invaluable piece of waterfowl habitat.
“Farmers are some of our best partners in conservation,” said Michael Shannon, Ducks Unlimited regional biologist in Iowa. “Landowners are proud of their property, respect the land and appreciate the importance of a healthy ecosystem.”
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.