The public is now able to enjoy a new addition that expands the Little Sioux River Wildlife Management Area, thanks to a private-public partnership that included the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) and the state of Iowa. The new land offers opportunities for hunting, fishing, paddling and other outdoor activities.
The addition protects over a quarter-mile of the Little Sioux, which is one of five rivers in the state designated as a Protected Water Area. These waterways are some of Iowa’s highest quality and most scenic natural areas. The purchase of this addition will help protect water quality and stream habitats.
The 100-acre addition, is located north of Gillett Grove about eight miles southeast of Spencer, includes oak savanna, wetlands and oxbows, and woodland. The existing area consists of a nearly 2,000-acre complex located along the Little Sioux River Corridor that stretches roughly seven miles.
Over the next two to three years, the DNR will work to restore sections of the property, including the oak savanna and wetlands.
“I think the biggest draw was that there was potential oak savanna, one of the most endangered ecosystems,” INHF Land Projects Director Heather Jobst said.
Oak savanna has become increasingly rare in Iowa, covering only a tiny percentage of its natural range. This type of ecosystem is characterized by open-grown oak trees and a mixed ground cover of grass, wildflowers and underbrush.
“To be able to recapture any oak savanna and be able to manage it is a big deal,” said Bryan Hellyer, area wildlife manager at the Iowa DNR.
“Another neat thing about the land is that it has 13 acres of temporary or seasonal wetlands and about 5 acres of permanent water,” Hellyer said.
Past INHF projects in Clay County include an addition to Oneota Little Sioux Area, Dewey’s Pasture Complex and Kirchner Prairie.