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Glacier shaped landform: Colo Bogs

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG An excellent compilation of upland prairie and glacially created depressions/wetlands exists along old U.S. Highway 30 west of State Center. The area is named Colo Bogs, a 696 acre area owned and managed by the Iowa DNR wildlife bureau. In today’s image, all the light green colored areas and wetland depressions illustrate the topographic features of a landscape created by glacial ice that moved steadily across this area about 15,000 years ago. Today the area has tall grass prairie surrounding wetland features. Pheasants and waterfowl use the uplands for nesting. Numerous smaller grassland birds nest within the area. By the time pheasant season opens this fall, hunters will be able to access the area. North is at the bottom left in this photograph.

COLO BOGS WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA is today’s featured parcel of land, a remnant of slightly undulating land surfaces of dry uplands and shallow wetland depressions. Glacial ice carved this land first by the push of advancing glacial ice from Canada. Since glacial systems have repeatedly impacted many parts of the entire North American continent numerous times during the last 2.2 million years, it is in fact the most recent geologic event, the Wisconsin glacial time frame, left its mark of prominence upon north central Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas.

One element of the Wisconsin glacier was a big ‘thumb print’ across north central Iowa that went as far south as what is now Polk County. Along the eastern side of this glacial ice advance was a zone where the ice did not impact directly, a line basically outlined by landform differences depicted along the Story/Marshall County line. On one side is relatively flat ice shaped surfaces and on the other are what geologists call the southern Iowa drift plain, landscapes at least 600,000 years old where time, wind and water have cooperated to erode and shape the land surface with well defined drainage patterns.

While much of the land shaped by Wisconsin ice has been transformed into modern farms, the Colo Bogs Complex, before it was to become state wildlife lands, was a difficult area for traditional farming practices. Long story made short, these segments of land that resisted man’s influence were perfect for wildlife needs. Beginning in 1993, the first segments were purchased. The project also involved consultations with landowners, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Easements were set in place in 1996, 97 and 98. Wetland areas have been enhanced. Prairie plantings were established. Food plot areas developed. Controlled management fires are used every few years. And Mother Nature brings rains to fill wetlands or let them dry out somewhat all depending upon local weather.

Migrating waterfowl use the are especially each spring and again in the fall. Some waterfowl never leave and use the water and land for nesting. Small fur bearing mammals can be found here. Deer use the site. And of course pheasants find this mix of tall grasses and dense cover ideal for brood rearing. I have noted a fair number of pheasants during my country road travels. Come August, DNR roadside wildlife counts will try and document trends in upland game species.

JULY HAPPENINGS that will soon impact our warmest summer month are about to unfold. Are you ready? Look for a peak in Goldfinch bird nesting activity….if people can find those secluded nests. The Iowa State bird will make do as it is a late summer nesting species. Wild Turkey hens will have young showing up very soon…again if people are in the right place and time to see them. Out in the prairie lands, like the Marietta Sand Prairie, flowering plants are making the most of long days and warm temps. Blazing Star is just one prairie plant to look for. There are many more. Use a good field guide book specific for grassland prairie flowers to help identify them.

Pheasants and waterfowl are abundant in this area.

July can be a time when the warmest air temperatures descend upon us. For example, on July 25, 1936, Iowa recorded 117 degrees at Atlantic and Logan. People back in 1936 did not have the luxury of air conditioned homes or workplaces. They had to adapt and work through it.

During July, there will be a partial lunar eclipse, as in yesterday, July 4. And for those that want to know, the earth is the farthest away from the Sun at this time of year. Planet Jupiter is at its closest to earth about mid month at a mere 397,677,563 miles away. Galileo Galilei discovered three moons of Jupiter using his telescope. On the night of July 13-14, the planet Earth’s orbit will be between the sun and Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in the earth-based solar system. Jupiter completes one orbit of the sun for every 11.86 orbits of Earth. Jupiter is 2.5 times more massive than all the other planets in the solar system combined. If Earth was the size of a grape, Jupiter would be the size of a basketball.

BLACK BEARS occasionally make their presence known in Iowa. Does Iowa have black bears? A few may wander into parts of northeast Iowa out of Minnesota or swim the Mississippi River from Wisconsin. Their numbers are very few. The neighboring state of Missouri have black bears now estimated at between 540 and 840. The population is expanding at about 9 percent annually and also expanding its range. If you have ever traveled in Missouri, you may have noted the hilly and limestone riddled ridges along the Current River in the southeast portion. Bears living there may go unseen for a long time. The Missouri Dept. of Conservation has studied management plans that include a limited hunting season. Decision on that plan will be discussed in the near future. The science behind the plan has been well researched.

SHOOTING SPORTS schedules have taken a big hit this spring and early summer. Even after event has cancelled. But not all is doom and gloom. Organized events are starting to come back. With that in mind, a Sporting Clay Shoot will be held at Big Marsh, July 11, located north of Parkersburg. For obtaining more information or to make an online registration, go to events@ducks.org. Look for Big Marsh Sporting Clay Shoot.

Another shoot, this one for archers is the Iowa Bowhunters Association Fall Festival. This will take place at the club grounds just north of Pine Lake State Park, Eldora, on July 31 through Aug. 2. Limited camping is available at the Pine Lake Archers Club or at nearby county park areas. Two field courses of 20 targets each will be set up. One course is in a forest setting, the other is more open meadow conditions. Three dimensional animal targets will present life-like hunting scenarios. A fun novelty shoot is also offered. Food and evening entertainment await those that attend. Archery vendors will on the grounds also to offer all the latest supplies one might need.

Quote: “There is a difference between what you do for a living, and what you do to live.”

— Anonymous

Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology.

Contact him at:

P.O. Box 96

Albion, IA 50005

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