Missouri nature preserve with INHF ties dedicated
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Jayjack, communications director, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-288-1846
A new nature preserve in Missouri with an Iowa was dedicated with a two-day celebration over the weekend in Hannibal, Mo.
The City of Hannibal, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Conservation Fund (TCF) dedicated Sodalis Nature Preserve Oct. 21-22. The 185-acre preserve, protected permanently by a conservation easement held by Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), features recreational trails and important hibernating habitat for an estimated 168,000 federally endangered Indiana bats — approximately one-third of all the Indiana bats in the world.
The protection of the former Lime Kiln Mine in Hannibal was chosen as a high priority project by USFWS and TCF because of its significance to Indiana bats, and the City of Hannibal has embraced the project in what is now the city’s second largest park. The world’s leading bat gate designer, Jerry Fant of Karst Solutions, was hired to build bat-friendly gates across each of the caves’ 34 entrances.
“It is truly amazing that a place so beautiful and important [for a species like the Indiana bat] could be created from limestone mining,” said INHF Conservation Easement Director Erin Van Waus.
TCF Midwest Project Director Clint Miller, the driving force behind the project, approached INHF to hold a conservation easement on the property. This easement ensures that the Sodalis Nature Preserve will be permanently safeguarded from development, while still allowing local use of trails in the surrounding woodland and giving USFWS access to the bat caves for research purposes. Miller was particularly excited by this opportunity to have “public recreation and endangered species conservation both benefiting from the same effort.” The two, he said, “can be complimentary.”
Although INHF rarely works outside the state of Iowa, the organization decided to work on the project for two reasons: First, TCF needed a strong and stable land trust to hold the conservation easement and bat gate maintenance fund. When considering regional partners, Miller was attracted by INHF’s “long history, accredited status and experience dealing with complicated projects.” He said, “I had high confidence in INHF handling such an important project.”
Also, INHF staff and board members believe the protection of the preserve significantly impacts Iowa wildlife, despite its location in Missouri. Indiana bats may migrate up to 200 miles from their hibernacula, which means that many of the Sodalis bats fly as far into Iowa as Dubuque, Waterloo and Des Moines to live and breed during the rest of the year.
Learn more about the project here.
Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is a statewide nonprofit conservation group that works with private landowners and other partners to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect nearly 150,000 acres of Iowa’s wild places in 96 Iowa counties. For more information, visit inhf.org.