Waterman Prairie to Become Official Bird Conservation Area

Peterson, Iowa – A public ceremony to dedicate Waterman Prairie Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and a portion of the Little Sioux River Iowa DNRwatershed as Iowa’s newest Bird Conservation Area (BCA) will take place on March 7 at 11 a.m. The event will be held in conjunction with the O’Brien County Bald Eagle Watch at the O’Brien County Prairie Heritage Center at 4931 Yellow Ave., or about four miles west of Peterson on the north side of Hwy. 10.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting the dedication that will include brief presentations and the unveiling of a special Bird Conservation Area sign.  There will be refreshments, and, following the ceremony, a short driving tour of the area led by local birding expert, Lee Schoenewe.

This unique area is one of northwestern Iowa’s most important grassland/savanna rich habitats and includes special areas like Waterman Prairie WMA, Bertram Reservation, Tuttle WMA, Buena Vista County Conservation Park, and Wittrock Indian Village State Preserve and National Historic Landmark.

“Designating this complex as a Bird Conservation Area will add to its recognition by indicating its importance for nesting and migratory grassland and savanna birds,” said Bruce Ehresman, DNR wildlife diversity program biologist. “It provides important nesting habitat for declining grassland birds, such as upland sandpiper, northern harrier, and bobolink, for game birds such as ring-necked pheasant and American woodcock, and for declining savanna birds like the red-headed woodpecker; plus the area provides migration stopover habitat for many other bird species suffering nationwide declines.”

It is anticipated that this new BCA will attract bird enthusiasts from throughout the region.  Watching wildlife is now a $318 million industry in Iowa, and more birders visiting this area should support growth of the local tourism economy and encourage investment in local bird conservation.

“The designation of the Waterman Prairie Bird Conservation Area serves as recognition of the excellent teamwork of many partners, cooperating to emphasize the importance of habitat for all birds.  State, federal, and county conservation agencies, working together with private conservation organizations and citizens have made this possible,” said Chris LaRue, DNR wildlife biologist and Great Lakes Wildlife Unit manager.

The public is welcome to attend this event.  Bird appreciators and all other wildlife conservationists are asked to help celebrate the dedication of this important Bird Conservation Area and also to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats.



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