Conservation News

NWTF Iowa Closes Year with Two Land Acquisitions, More to Follow

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — Two public hunting lands will be augmented and ready for chasing gobbles this spring, thanks to the efforts of the NWTF Iowa State Chapter and partners.

The Iowa State Chapter has a rich history of contributing funds for land acquisitions, evident in the state’s plan for fiscal year 2024. Within the next year, the state chapter will help purchase 687 acres through six land acquisitions, two of which were recently finalized and will be open for turkey hunting in the spring of 2024.

“Iowa is one of the most privately owned states in the country,” said John Burk, NWTF district biologist for Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. “Our volunteers in Iowa know the mission value of increasing public lands for hunting access and wildlife management. This is why our volunteer leaders invest significantly in acquisitions year after year: to create more hunters and more turkeys. We are proud to have another exciting year of public land success for 2024.”

One recent acquisition added 19.4 acres to the existing 253-acre Hickory Bend Conservation Area, made possible thanks to the NWTF Iowa State Chapter, Des Moines County Conservation Board, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Pheasants/Quail Forever and Whitetails Unlimited.

The Hickory Bend is known among the local sporting community for its quality deer and turkey populations, with the new addition supporting wild turkey annual habitat needs.

The Hickory Bend Conservation Area is one of the most remote and undeveloped areas in the Des Moines County park system and is managed exclusively for natural resources and wildlife.

To celebrate the increased public lands, NWTF volunteers and contributing partners will host a dedication event at the Hickory Bend Conservation Area in the near future.

Learn more about the Hickory Bend Conservation Area and its public access features.

The second land acquisition that will be ready for turkey hunters this spring is the 14-acre Muskrat Slough Oak Woodland Acquisition. Made possible by the Iowa NWTF State Chapter, IADNR, Pheasant/Quail Forever, Whitetails Unlimited, Dubuqueland Conservation Society and the Jones County Community Foundation, the purchase will enhance the existing 727-acre public hunting area in southern Jones County.

The tract may only be 14 acres, but it harbors significant ecological value, having been part of the historic oak savanna that once sprawled through what is now mostly developed. The area supports abundant wild turkeys and is known to provide hunters with successful turkey hunting year after year.

Additionally, securing the tract will square up the public ownership boundary and allow area wildlife managers increased management capabilities.

IADNR managers plan to restore the area to a state akin to its historic oak savanna condition through various management practices, including weeding out less desirable tree species and returning fire to the understory.

Wildlife managers believe the site will stand as a great example of a restored oak savanna. Management efforts will increase wild turkey habitat and benefit many other game and nongame species, such as red-headed woodpeckers, orioles, butterflies and other pollinators.

Additional land purchases the Iowa NWTF State Chapter is set to help with in 2024 include: 

  • A 191-acre land acquisition in Benton County.
  • A 79-acre addition to the Upper Iowa River property in Howard County.
  • A 240-acre addition to the Kirke Woods Conservation Area in Madison County.
  • A 120-acre addition to the Luther Shooting Sports tract in Benton County.

Learn more about what the NWTF Iowa State Chapter has planned for 2024.

This work is made possible through the NWTF Super Fund, a funding model where NWTF volunteers raise money at banquets and other types of fundraisers and then allocate a significant portion of those funds back into meaningful conservation and outreach projects in their respective states.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

Since 1973, the National Wild Turkey Federation has invested over half a billion dollars into wildlife conservation and has conserved or enhanced over 22 million acres of critical wildlife habitat. The organization continues to drive wildlife conservation, forest resiliency and robust recreational opportunities throughout the U.S. by working across boundaries on a landscape scale.

2023 is the NWTF’s 50th anniversary and an opportunity to propel the organization’s mission into the future while honoring its rich history. For its 50th anniversary, the NWTF has set six ambitious goals: positively impact 1 million acres of wildlife habitat; raise $500,000 for wild turkey research; increase membership to 250,000 members; dedicate $1 million to education and outreach programs; raise $5 million to invest in technology and NWTF’s people; and raise $5 million to build toward a $50 million endowment for the future. Learn how you can help us reach these lofty goals.

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