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Ducks Unlimited to host banquet June 12th

PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG — Ducks Unlimited, Iowa River Valley Chapter, is gearing up for its annual fund raising banquet. The date is June 12th. The place is Best Western Regency Inn in Marshalltown. After last year without a banquet, the local DU chapter is eager to gather like-minded conservationists, hunters and other natural area enthusiasts to partake in a social activity to help wetland habitats in Iowa.

DUCKS UNLIMITED committee members have adjusted to the times. Planning is well under way for its 2021 fund raising banquet. Finding a location was completed with the Best Western Regency Inn chosen as the site. Then other details had to fall into place as organizers agreed to proceed. What is very noteworthy for 2021 is that in any typical year, June is not the month when other DU chapters hold some type of event. However, adjusting is a requirement and adapting is a must. Statewide there are now five DU chapters with planned events in June 2021, all eager to reopen after a year of low activity due to Covid-19 issues.

Statewide there are about 130 DU events each year. The money they raised has added to the total record of projects assisted in either acquisition, or on the land, hands on habitat enhancement. The value of DU’s 2020, in spite of Covid, came to over $4 million invested. Since the beginning of hard working DU members everywhere in Iowa, the historical record totals show 80,444 acres conserved and funding at $33.2 million.

In 2021, the map highlights four sites. In northwest Iowa, the Andrea Waitt Carlton Foundation committed $750,000 to DU to help with a 159 acre project in Dickinson County near Okoboji in the heart of Iowa’s Great Lakes region. The land contains a mix of wetlands and prairie. Next project site is near Palo in Linn County, where DU has assisted with the Cedar River Basin North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant to enhance a 90 acre oxbow wetland. Klum Lake restoration work near Wapello, IA saw improvements to water control structures on the outlet of the lake. Managing water levels will allow DNR wildlife staff improved support for vegetation management for wildlife benefit. And also in 2021, a private land enhancement project of 56 acres with a 16 acre wetland is located near Radcliffe in Hardin County. It is designed to help improve water quality by allowing for removal of nitrogen from a 1,893 acre watershed. The cooperators include DU, Iowa Dept of Ag and Land Stewardship, and Nestle’ Purina PetCare Company.

Water quality improvement projects are needed in Iowa. DU recognizes this need and has stepped up to assist where it can to make significant headway as projects are developed. To help deliver wetlands, DU and Iowa Dept of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) have entered into a three year, $1.6 million agreement to identify, plan and design wetlands across the Prairie Pothole Region of Iowa. Prairie Pothole landscapes are what glacial history left us with in north central Iowa. Former lowland depressions (potholes) in some, not all, locations can be brought back to provide water filtering and nutrient reduction functions.

Supporting the local Ducks Unlimited Chapter is a worthy goal. To help in this endeavor, do mark June 12th on your calendar, and purchase a ticket prior to the event, or at the door. Doors open at 5 pm, with a dinner at 7 pm. Early bird tickets are $50, while at the door tickets will cost %60. Sponsor memberships are available at $275. Greenwing tickets (youth) are $30 and if you want to add a spouse meal ticket one can do so for $15. A DU annual membership only option will cost $35. Please note that early bird raffle ticket package with hat costs $100. But do note that this hat option comes with 120 tickets. Tickets can be secured from Rich Naughton at 1626 Weise Garden Road, Marshalltown, IA. Or you may call Rich at 641-328-0124 for all your ticket purchase needs.

The map shows 2021 projects. But look closely at all the other yellow dots on this map. They comprise DU’s involvement through the decades with some type of project assistance covering just about every county in Iowa. What is good for the ducks is also good to a huge variety of wildlife of wildlife of all sizes and descriptions.

The evening at DU will feature games, live and silent auction, and of course chances on several quality firearms. Fourteen firearms will be long guns and four will be handguns. An added bonus as per usual will be packages of select meats from JBS to those ticket holders whose name is randomly drawn. By the time the event closes out, every person in attendance will have helped wetland conservation via the money raised by this DU event. What is good for the ducks is valuable habitat for a host of other wildlife critters.

PINE LAKE STATE PARK is open and ready for campers after a nine-month improvement program to update facilities. There are now ADA-accessible shower and restroom facilities and more space in the campground. The redesign for camper sites was required as camper sizes increased with modern rigs. To create more space per camp site, some old camp sites were eliminated, but doing so allowed for other vehicle, boat and yard game activities. Camp sites numbers decreased from 120 to 76. In addition, CCC-era stone cabins were updated with kitchens and bathrooms. Pine Lake State Park is located in nearby Hardin County on the east and northeast side of Eldora. Two lakes offer fishing opportunities. Trails offer quiet natural walking venues. Picnic sites offer places for family gatherings. All of this at a state park near you. Enjoy.

BIRD NEWS: Sandhill Cranes are located sporadically in central Iowa sites. One site is on private land between Marshalltown and Albion adjacent to the Iowa River. These cranes sometimes fly short distances to feed in crop fields, grasslands or at edges of wetlands. That is when it may be possible to observe these four foot tall long legged birds. It is always good to hear their raspy rattling calls. Recently a map was sent to me showing flight routes of Sandhill Cranes that have a GPS leg band attached to them. Signals record the bird’s location from summer to wintering area and back to summer nesting zones.

Data from those cranes show wintering areas in southern Indiana and north-central Kentucky. However, when the time comes to migrate northwest each spring, the routes taken are all over the place, almost like there is no pattern. Only the Sandhill Cranes have answers to where they go and why they go there. More data and more GPS leg bands would be very beneficial if funding can be secured for this project. Some mysteries of migration will remain mysterious. What we humans can count on is that Mother Nature just does her thing.

Wild Turkey harvest statewide show numbers of Tom turkeys harvested at 11,667. Marshall County hunters took 66 bearded wild turkeys. That is reflects a lot of hours spent outdoors way before sunrise hoping to be under or near a roost tree when the birds fly down near sunrise time. It is always exciting to hear gobble calls back and forth across the timber lands. Turkey seasons ended on May 16th.

ADVICE FROM A HUMMINGBIRD: Sip the sweet moments; Let your true colors show; Don’t get your feathers ruffled over little things; Just wing it; Take yourself lightly; and lastly, Keep your visits short and sweet.

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