IOWA – The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Iowa State Chapter continues to make public hunting access a priority, having already contributed $72,000 toward the purchase of 812 acres of land in the Hawkeye State in 2008.
The land purchases are part of a new NWTF initiative called More Places to Hunt, a program designed to help provide more hunting land on both public and private property. Nationwide, the NWTF already has spent nearly $9 million and obtained more than 400,000 acres for hunting since 1987.
Most recently in Iowa, NWTF volunteers helped purchase land that will be used for public hunting as part of four existing conservation areas in Allamakee, Buchanan, Woodbury and Webster counties.
“Public access to hunting is a major concern for many hunters, especially in Iowa where only about two percent of land is publicly owned,” said Dave Whittlesey, NWTF regional biologist for Iowa. “Investing in hunting areas that are open to the public will benefit all wildlife and everyone who enjoys the public lands.”
The NWTF contributed $37,000 and partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to help purchase 306 acres in Allamakee County, which connected the 1,955-acre Lansing Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to the 579-acre Fish Farm Mounds WMA. The properties lie near the Mississippi River in Iowa’s northeastern corner. Connecting the fragmented portions of land created a large tract of land that will benefit wild turkeys and other wildlife.
Another $15,000 contribution from the NWTF Iowa State Chapter, combined with funding from the Iowa DNR and the North American Wetland Conservation Act, helped purchase 151 acres in Buchanan County along the Wapsipinicon River.
“The Wapsipinicon River is a conservation focus area,” Whittlesey said. “The state chapter’s goal in this project is to assist in purchasing a tract of land that secures a large, continuous ribbon of public hunting land along the river system – which is prime turkey habitat in Iowa.”
The Oak Ridge Conservation Area, located in the heart of the Loess Hills region of western Iowa, was expanded by 315 acres through the NWTF’s $10,000 contribution and additional funding from project partners. Unique because it is rough, hilly terrain formed by wind-blown loess soils, the Loess Hills provide excellent habitat for wild turkeys and other wildlife.
Project partners include Iowa DNR, Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program, the Woodbury County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, the Loess Hills Alliance and the Woodbury County Conservation Board.
A $10,000 contribution from the NWTF Iowa State Chapter helped add 40 acres of forested land to the Boone Forks WMA in north-central Iowa’s Webster County. The Boone and Des Moines rivers converge near this WMA, which offers prime wildlife habitat within its forested bluffs and riverbottoms. Iowa DNR and Iowa’s Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program were project partners in this acquisition.
“The NWTF is presented with many opportunities to purchase small, fragmented tracts of land throughout the state,” Whittlesey said. “Remaining focused on expanding existing parcels of public land instead of purchasing a few acres randomly is challenging, but will serve our wildlife resources and public-land hunters well in the future. We’ve stretched our dollars to help expand existing WMAs, which results in more stable and diverse wildlife populations and high-quality hunting experiences.”
Since 1985, NWTF volunteers have spent more than $4.6 million on NWTF projects in Iowa. In addition to purchasing land for public hunting, NWTF state chapters have enhanced wild turkey habitat, conducted education seminars and held events to introduce women, youth and people with disabilities to hunting, conservation and the outdoors.
“Hunters were the first, and are still the best, conservationists,” said Dr. James Earl Kennamer, the NWTF’s senior vice president for conservation programs. “Hunters started wildlife management with their license dollars and the Pittman-Robertson Act, which raises money through excise taxes to continue to support wildlife management. The NWTF is proud to partner with our state wildlife agencies to ensure the future of conservation, and the members of the Iowa State Chapter are really doing their part.”
Since 1985, NWTF chapters and cooperating partners have raised and spent more than $258 million upholding hunting traditions and conserving more than 13.1 million acres of wildlife habitat across North America.