Category Archives: Conservation

“Chickadee Check Off” or Fish / Wildlife Diversity Fund

Last year, a little over 7,500 Iowa taxpayers helped boost wildlife conservation with donations to the Fish and Wildlife Fund on their state tax form. This is roughly 400 fewer contributors than in 2016. Donators represent about 0.4% of total tax payers in Iowa.
“We are so thankful to all the people who choose to donate to wildlife conservation with their tax refunds,” said Shepherd. “I have a hope that we can do even better to increase funding levels which go directly to habitat development and restoration programs for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable animal species. The funds are so important for natural resources.”

The Fish and Wildlife Fund, known popularly as the “Chickadee Check-off,” is a mechanism the Iowa Legislature created in the 1980s for Iowa citizens to donate to wildlife conservation on the Iowa state tax form. Before this time, so called “non-game” wildlife had no dedicated funding. Non-game wildlife are the 1000+ species such as songbirds, bald eagles, salamanders, turtles, monarchs and bees that make up the majority of wildlife in Iowa. It is one of the only funding sources for the Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Diversity program which is responsible for all these species. The program uses the funding to help improve wildlife habit, restore native wildlife, provide opportunities for citizens to learn about our natural resources and much more

According to Shepherd, Iowans donated roughly $145,000 last spring when completing their 2017 tax forms. This translates to an average gift of $19.25 per donor. The number of donors has mostly stayed level or decreased but thanks to more generous giving, the amount donated has also stayed level or even increased.

The tax check-off line is pretty inconspicuous and can be easy to pass over or forget. “Many tax preparers may not remember to ask whether a client wants to donate,” said Shepherd. “It may be up to the taxpayer to remind their preparer, or make a point of looking for it whether they are doing their form on paper or electronically.”
Once you find the check-off, donating is easy, according to Shepherd: simply write the amount to donate next to the Fish and Wildlife Check-Off, line 57 on Form 1040, and the sum is either automatically deducted from the refund or added to the amount owed. As with all charitable contributions, the amount is deductible from next year’s taxes.


If every Iowa taxpayer donated just $1, it would mean $1.5 million for wildlife and natural resource conservation!


DNR CONTACT:
Stephanie Shepherd | 515-230-6599 | stephanie.shepherd@dnr.iowa.gov

US Fish and Wildlife Report: USFW Fisheries received three Pallid Sturgeon in December to help with species recovery

 

Pallid sturgeon are bottom dwelling, slow growing fish that feed primarily on small fish and immature aquatic insects. This species of sturgeon is seldom seen and is one of the least understood fish in the Missouri and Mississippi River drainages. It is an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs.

The recovery efforts include research to learn more about its life history and habitat requirements, artificial propagation to improve its numbers, habitat improvement and reducing mortality from commercial fishing.

Species Description: The pallid sturgeon has a flattened, shovel-shaped snout, possesses a long, slender, and completely armored caudal peduncle, and lacks a spiracle and belly scutes. Pallid sturgeon are bottom-oriented species. Pallid sturgeon can be long-lived (40+ years), with females reaching sexual maturity later than males. Pallid sturgeon at the northern end of their range can obtain sizes much larger than fish at the southern end of their range.

The pallid sturgeon experienced a dramatic decline throughout its range since the mid to late 1960’s. Nearly all of its habitat has been modified through river channelization,
construction of impoundments and related changes in water flow. These changes blocked the pallid sturgeon’s movements, destroyed or altered its spawning areas, reduced its food sources or its ability to obtain food, and altered water temperatures and other environmental conditions necessary for the fish’s survival.

Pallid sturgeon are bottom dwelling, slow growing fish that feed primarily on small fish and immature aquatic insects. This species of sturgeon is seldom seen and is one of the least understood fish in the Missouri and Mississippi River drainages. It is an ancient species that has existed since the days of the dinosaurs.

The recovery efforts include research to learn more about its life history and habitat requirements, artificial propagation to improve its numbers, habitat improvement and reducing mortality from commercial fishing.

Species Description: The pallid sturgeon has a flattened, shovel-shaped snout, possesses a long, slender, and completely armored caudal peduncle, and lacks a spiracle and belly scutes. Pallid sturgeon are bottom-oriented species. Pallid sturgeon can be long-lived (40+ years), with females reaching sexual maturity later than males. Pallid sturgeon at the northern end of their range can obtain sizes much larger than fish at the southern end of their range.

Species Factsheet:

Location: Pallid sturgeon are found only in portions of the Missouri and Mississippi River basins. More specifically, the species is known to occur in the following areas:
  • Missouri River in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota
  • Mississippi River in Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois (downstream from Melvin Price Locks and Dam), Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri (downstream from Melvin Price Locks and Dam), and Tennessee
  • Platte River in Nebraska downstream of Elkhorn River confluence
  • a portion of the Kansas River downstream from Bowersock Dam
  • Yellowstone River in North Dakota and Montana downstream of the Bighorn River confluence
  • and the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana
    Habitat: Mississippi River downstream of its confluence with the Missouri River; Ohio River below Dam #53; Missouri River
There have been occasional observations in the lower Big Sioux River of South Dakota, the Grand River in Missouri, and the Mississippi River near Keokuk, Iowa.
For more information, please click on this link:
The Pallid Sturegeon (Scaphirhynchus albus) is currently listed 
as Endangered as of Sept 6, 1990. 
 
 Photo by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks; Sam Stuke
 

Lime Creek, Buchanan County Mussel Success Story

 
 Water quality improvements lead to mussels’ return, Lime Creek off state impaired waters list.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Hopkins, 515-725-8390 or Jennifer Kurth, 515-725-8381.BUCHANAN COUNTY – For Lime Creek, it’s a tale of two lists; it’s a story that moves from the state’s impaired waters list to the distinction of landing on the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The effort was also just recognized as a water quality success story by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The move took the work of the local Buchanan County community, and all hinged on the return of one valuable stream resident.

A survey of native freshwater mussel species in the creek in 1984 found nine different species. But by 1998 there were no live mussels found. With that, one segment of the stream was considered impaired for biological aquatic life.

Locals formed the Lime Creek Watershed Council and launched a watershed project in 2006, aiming to reduce the amount of silt and sediment washing off the land into the creek, as well as reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrates reaching the water.

The project focused on helping farmers and landowners use practices on the land to better hold sediment and nutrients on the land and keep them out of the creek. With a number of partners and funding sources, including the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the project helped locals reduce tillage, adjust crop rotations, change nutrient application and install grassed waterways.

More than half of residents in the Lime Creek watershed – the area of land that drains to the creek – participated in the project. After the project officially ended in 2009, locals kept it alive with voluntary practices and efforts.”Year after year, we’ve seen interest growing in cover crops and in other practices that improve soil health and water quality,” said farmer and conservation leader Dick Sloan of Rowley, who leads the Lime Creek Watershed Council.

As a result, 959 tons of sediment – that’s about 64 dump truck loads – no longer reach the creek each year. The work also reduced phosphorus levels in the creek by almost 1,500 pounds per year and nitrate-nitrogen levels in the creek dropped 19 percent.

Most importantly, because of the improved habitat, the mussels returned. A Statewide Mussel Survey in 2011, led by the DNR and funded by U.S. EPA Section 319, discovered six species of mussels where there were previously none. That includes three species considered threatened in Iowa.
“It’s especially impressive that the most common mussel we found in Lime Creek, the ellipse, is a threatened mussel,” said DNR biologist Jen Kurth, who led the survey. This led to Lime Creek coming off of the state’s impaired waters list in 2014.

Now, as one of Iowa’s Outstanding Waters, this scenic stretch of stream is well-known to visitors to Buchanan County Conservation’s Lime Creek Park and to Smallmouth bass anglers in the area.

To learn more about Lime Creek and its success story, visit the U.S. EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/nps/success-stories-about-restoring-water-bodies-impaired-nonpoint-source-pollution#iaWater quality improvements lead to mussels’ return, Lime Creek off state impaired waters list.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Hopkins, 515-725-8390 or Jennifer Kurth, 515-725-8381.

BUCHANAN COUNTY – For Lime Creek, it’s a tale of two lists; it’s a story that moves from the state’s impaired waters list to the distinction of landing on the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The effort was also just recognized as a water quality success story by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The move took the work of the local Buchanan County community, and all hinged on the return of one valuable stream resident.

A survey of native freshwater mussel species in the creek in 1984 found nine different species. But by 1998 there were no live mussels found. With that, one segment of the stream was considered impaired for biological aquatic life.

Locals formed the Lime Creek Watershed Council and launched a watershed project in 2006, aiming to reduce the amount of silt and sediment washing off the land into the creek, as well as reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrates reaching the water.

The project focused on helping farmers and landowners use practices on the land to better hold sediment and nutrients on the land and keep them out of the creek. With a number of partners and funding sources, including the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the project helped locals reduce tillage, adjust crop rotations, change nutrient application and install grassed waterways.

More than half of residents in the Lime Creek watershed – the area of land that drains to the creek – participated in the project. After the project officially ended in 2009, locals kept it alive with voluntary practices and efforts.”Year after year, we’ve seen interest growing in cover crops and in other practices that improve soil health and water quality,” said farmer and conservation leader Dick Sloan of Rowley, who leads the Lime Creek Watershed Council.

As a result, 959 tons of sediment – that’s about 64 dump truck loads – no longer reach the creek each year. The work also reduced phosphorus levels in the creek by almost 1,500 pounds per year and nitrate-nitrogen levels in the creek dropped 19 percent.

Most importantly, because of the improved habitat, the mussels returned. A Statewide Mussel Survey in 2011, led by the DNR and funded by U.S. EPA Section 319, discovered six species of mussels where there were previously none. That includes three species considered threatened in Iowa.
“It’s especially impressive that the most common mussel we found in Lime Creek, the ellipse, is a threatened mussel,” said DNR biologist Jen Kurth, who led the survey. This led to Lime Creek coming off of the state’s impaired waters list in 2014.

Now, as one of Iowa’s Outstanding Waters, this scenic stretch of stream is well-known to visitors to Buchanan County Conservation’s Lime Creek Park and to Smallmouth bass anglers in the area.

To learn more about Lime Creek and its success story, visit the U.S. EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/nps/success-stories-about-restoring-water-bodies-impaired-nonpoint-source-pollution#ia