NWTF staff and volunteers are doing an excellent job enhancing and protecting wildlife and habitat across Iowa’s many wildlife management areas. Matt Weegman, NWTF’s district biologist for Iowa, recently drove throughout the state, stopping to check on various shared stewardship projects between the NWTF, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and multiple other partners.
Weegman’s first stop was at the Eldon Wildlife Management Area in Davis County. This project enhanced 100 acres through crop tree release. Crop tree release entails deadening large trees that were in direct competition with desired fruit, nut or acorn trees. Smaller trees on the forest floor typically remain untouched with crop tree release practices. The NWTF partnered with IA DNR and contributed $3,000 from its state super fund.
The next stop for Weegman was at Tubaugh Wildlife Management Area in Appanoose County. This area had a total of 135 acres enhanced. Similar to the first project, this project involved crop tree release, and it included weed-tree removal. Weed tree removal differs from crop tree release practices by removing smaller trees in addition to the larger trees, allowing more sunlight to hit the forest floor. This promotes native grasses, forbs, and oak regeneration that makes great brooding habitat for turkeys. In addition to sizable contributions from IA DNR, the NWTF contributed $5,000.
Weegman’s next stop was at the Hooper Wildlife Management Area in Warren County. This project involved 63 acres of weed-tree removal and the aerial application of selective herbicide on the prolific and invasive wild honeysuckle, which was choking out other beneficial species. In addition to the $6,000 from NWTF’s Super Fund, IA DNR and Pheasants Forever/ Quail Forever contributed substantial funds.
Loess Hills State Forest in Harrison County was the fourth stop for Weegman. The project called for 21.5 acres of tree planting in an area that was previously overgrown by Siberian elm. White oak, swamp white oak, red oak, bur oak, black walnut, cottonwood and black cherry seedlings were planted at a rate of 725 trees per acre, bringing the area back to a more natural state. Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection Program, IA DNR and the NWTF collaborated for this project. The NWTF provided $5,000 from its super fund.
The final stop of Weegman’s journey was the Deer Creek Wildlife Management area in Plymouth County. The project involved a 15-acre timber stand improvement to revitalize bur-oak stands. Bur oak stands on the WMA are stocked with elm, boxelder and dogwood, and, in many areas, bur oaks were competing with each other due to overstocking. The management methods used at this WMA were small diameter tree removal, hack and squirt herbicide application and girdling larger trees to reduce competition to the important bur oaks. In addition to contributions from IA DNR, the NWTF provided $2,500.
Funds raised in 2018 made for a remarkable year of conservation in Iowa for 2019. Through the help of staff, volunteers and our various partners, the Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is well underway.
“We appreciate all of our conservation partners in Iowa. We wouldn’t be able to do this amount of habitat management without you! We’re going to keep managing the habitat in a way that will support our wildlife populations and provide quality places for folks to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” Weegaman said.