What a day it was – May 28, 2011 marked a big day for conservation in Mahaska County (Hull Wildlife Area), with Field and Stream magazine partnering with several local wildlife agencies and non-profit organizations to begin a multi-year habitat restoration effort aimed at restoring upland bird habitat to the reclaimed coal mine site. Over 100 volunteers gathered together with loppers, tree bars, chainsaws, and native seed in hand to build some sweat equity in the fate of our upland bird populations. Brush was removed, native prairie planted, food plots established, and wildlife friendly shrubs planted where they would serve as habitat for years to come.
Fast forward to 2012. The prairie planting was flush with the yellows of coneflower and black-eyed susans, and alive with the buzz of thousands of insects: a key food source for hundreds of species of native wildlife. The food plots were planted to sunflowers this year, and provided food and cover to thousands of birds. The plots also provided the opportunity for hunters to get out and experience the excitement of an early September dove hunt. The area to the west of the north parking lot that had been cleared of brush was sprayed and planted to soybeans this year, a common method of removing stands of smooth brome grass.
Recently, the eleven acres of bean stubble west of the north end parking lot were planted to diverse native prairie. In the coming years, this area will serve as excellent habitat for millions of insects and pollinators, small mammals, birds, and numerous other species of native wildlife.
With the kickoff of a new partnership between the Iowa DNR and Pheasants Forever emphasizing the importance of habitat complexes and private lands conservation, this project is a great example of what local conservation groups can accomplish when the community gets involved.
A big thanks goes out to all who helped last year with the Hull Area Restoration Day. For more information on the local Pheasants Forever chapter, or to keep up with plans for the next habitat volunteer day, like our facebook page by searching for Mahaska County Pheasants Forever.
Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 130,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent - the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.