Seeking a bountiful spring

Spring can be as bountiful as fall harvest if you know where to look. Iowa Outdoor enthusiasts have ample spring opportunities to test their skills that come in different combinations: Wild turkey, Asparagus, Crappie, Trout and Morrel Mushrooms, can all be pursued and collected the same day if you try. The pursuit of Wild Turkey during the spring season is a challenge. The birds are well adapted to life in the wild and contrary to their domestic counterparts are sometimes difficult to fool when pursuing them on their turf. Crappies can be found in shallows of lakes and ponds as the water warms they prepare for spawning activities. Local lakes where these highly sought after fish can be found include Sand Lake and Green Castle Recreation Area. Trout can be found at various stops across Iowa at different urban stocking lakes and clear water streams in northeast Iowa. Yesterday Sand lake had a release of 200 Trout. Morel Mushrooms are also found in a variety of habitats across the state. Depending on the individual you talk to there are special places to look. The most frequent place many look for Morels is near recently dead and decaying Elm trees. Although Asparagus is native to Europe, it is found in many gardens and can sometimes be found growing wild. If you can locate a patch, it can be harvested several times up to June when new growth should then be allowed to grow. As with any outdoor activity, the first rule is safety. If you venture out to the woods or a lake, let someone know where you are going and an approximate time you will return. Several of these spring activities mentioned can be done on the same track of land and those pursuing one or another should be respectful to others using the land whether public or private. One of the second most important things to keep in mind when venturing out is to respect private property. Many of the activities listed are accomplished on private land and in Iowa and you need permission form the landowner to access their property. Failure to do so may result in trespassing violations and establish poor relations between landowners and all others. Ask First.

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Spring seems to still be a couple weeks ahead of schedule this year and with the mild winter, vegetation growth is keeping up with it all. Spring wildflowers are blooming and bird migration is following suit. With most of the waterfowl migration well to the north of Iowa, Neotropical migrants are about two weeks ahead of schedule. Neotropical migrants are bird species that spend the summer breeding months in North America and the winter in South America. To attract some of these bird species to your feeder for viewing, offer sugar water for humming birds and orioles. Oranges and grape jelly are also a favorite of Orioles, Catbirds, and Brown thrashers. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are attracted to sunflower seeds and Indigo buntings will occasionally feed with Goldfinches.

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Plan ahead for remaining spring events offered by the Marshall County Conservation Board. Sign-ups are still being taken for a naturalist led wildflower walk at Grammer Grove to be held on May 9 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. To get your name on the list to attend, please call the MCCB offices at 641-752-5490. Later in May, two art and craft classes will be held. May 4 will host a Mother’s Day Stepping Stone class and May 25 will be a Naturally Artistic Silk Painting class. Both of these classes require pre-registration and a fee. The first of the MCCB Summer Camp sign-ups for ages 3 through to Kindergarten and out of 1st or 2nd grade are also currently being taken. For more details on these classes and camps call the MCCB offices.

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Mike Stegmann is the director of the Marshall County Conservation Board.