Iowa’s pheasant hunting tradition will begin another chapter on October 29, when nearly 60,000 hunters will pursue ringnecks during the season opening weekend in fields across the state. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources annual August roadside survey predicts Iowa pheasant hunters can expect to have good hunting this fall, and likely more company in the field. The optimistic mood is a natural outcome of five consecutive years of higher population surveys and hunter harvests.
The survey found an average of 21 pheasants per 30 mile route statewide, with higher counts coming from counties crossing the state diagonally from northwest to southeast. The statewide average in 2015 was 24 pheasants per route.
“At this point, it appears much of our corn and beans will be out of the fields by the opener, which will concentrate birds to grass areas and make hunters happy. If we have good weather, I think we could see a bump in hunter numbers and birds harvested,” said Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa DNR.
Bogenschutz said he has noticed more birds near field edges and along the roads as the crops have been coming out. “I’ve been seeing some birds around on my way in to the office and have been getting a few phone calls from around the state from people also seeing birds,” he said. ““The birds are here, we need hunters to return.”
Iowa’s pheasant population could sustain a harvest of 500,000 roosters, but it will not reach that level until there are 90,000 hunters afield. In 2015, some 55,000 hunters harvested 270,000 Iowa roosters. Hunters can read the August roadside survey, review hunting regulations, buy a license and find a place to hunt online at www.iowadnr.gov/hunting .
The Natural Resource Commission for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources approved two Resource Enhancement and Protection Public Private Cost-share grant requests from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation at its October meeting. The projects were awarded more than $510,000.
Public private grants are used for land acquisition with 75 percent of the acquisition costs come from REAP and the remaining 25 percent coming from private contributions.
REAP Private Public Grants:
Fremont County, Botna Bottoms Acquisition, $135,750 – The project will combine two EWP/WRP properties into one 179-acre tract bordering the East Nishnabotna River. Botna Bottoms contains quality wildlife habitat, including: grassland, riparian woodland, wet prairie, sedge meadow and wetland. Funds received for this project will transfer the property to the IDNR – Nishnabotna Wildlife Unit. Major benefits of this acquisition include public hunting, wildlife and plant habitat and improved water quality.
Fremont County, Biscuitroot Bluff, $378,972 – The goal of this project is to protect and restore property in Fremont County along the Loess Hills Scenic Byway that contains rare Loess Hills remnant prairie and oak woodlands. Funds received for this project would be used for acquisition of 173.2 acres. Future use includes wildlife and native plant habitat, public hunting and scenic views.
Members of the Atlantic Parks and Rec Board, Monday, heard a request from Deb Smith, with regard to a property she owns at 6th and Oak Streets, that she would like to have turned into a park, if feasible.
The land was the former site of the old Hockenberry/Mullen Funeral Home, which was destroyed in an arson fire in May, 2012. Smith wants to sell the slightly more than one-half acre of land to the City for at or a little than less than the amount it costs in taxes, or about $9,968. It’s valued at around $17,900.
Smith’s father was the Rev. Chuck Smith, who served as Mayor of Atlantic many years ago, and who died last March. Deb Smith said her father had hoped to turn the land into a park. Deb Smith, who now lives in Panama, said before her dad died she had contacted the Iowa West Foundation and inquired about grant funding for a park. She also spoke recently with Parks and Rec Director Seth Staashelm.
The land is currently zoned commercial. Staashelm said he would need to contact the City Attorney and then get a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission before the Parks and Rec Board makes its recommendation and presents her offer to the City Council. Staashelm said also, the Parks and Rec Departments funds are currently spoken for about the next two or three years, as part of its five-year plan, but there is an opportunity to apply for grants. Smith said she would be happy to help write any grant applications.
Park and Rec Board Member Charlene Beane suggested the area would be a great spot for another skate board park, but Board member Jolene Smith suggested a splash pad might be an idea, since there is already a water hookup on the property. If the City approves the purchase of the land, Staashelm said the property would need a retaining wall to help with drainage and to solve erosion problems, which the Parks and Rec Department could install, and a new sidewalk, which the Street Department might be able to install.
Staashelm said he would begin to seeking legal advice and P&Z approval, as the next steps in the process.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Farmers have made further progress harvesting corn and soybeans in Iowa and Nebraska but rain in Iowa and heavy dew in Nebraska has slowed the process. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Iowa farmers reported waiting for crops to dry in the field before harvesting. Nebraska also saw last week freezing temperatures across a wide area.
About a third of the Iowa corn crop is harvested, about a week behind the five-year average and 62 percent of soybeans are out of the field. The five-year average at this point in the year is 74 percent. In Nebraska 34 percent of corn is harvested, behind the average of 40 percent and 62 percent of soybeans are completed behind the average of 74 percent.
Food pantries in the state have been able to supply those in need with some vegetables this season there were grown by expert gardeners. Iowa State University’s Susan DeBlieck, says the Extension Department’s Master Gardener program partnered with the research farms to create donation gardens. “We partnered with our SNAP education staff to make funding available. Some of the funding available supported these donation gardens that were planted at seven of the Iowa State University research farms,” DeBlieck explains.
SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and DeBlieck says the Extension Education and Outreach Program provides education for low income families on how to prepare produce. The gardens were tended throughout the summer by Master Gardener volunteers who harvested seven-thousand pounds of vegetables. “All of those pounds of produce have been donated to nearby food pantries and food banks,” according to DeBlieck “And these demonstration farms are located all across the state and are really helping to build food security in particularly in rural areas.”
The gardens are located in Rock Rapids, Lewis, Kanawha, Ames, Nashua, Fruitland and Crawfordsville. The Iowa State Extension program has a long history of using demonstration gardens to help educate, and DeBlieck says this program fits in well with that tradition. “I believe that those started in the 1970’s and since that time we’ve been demonstrating different types of crops and different types of growing methods,” DeBlieck explains. “And so we chose crops that are wanted by food pantries. They are foods that store well, are easy to grow in Iowa, and look good on a food pantry shelf.” She says many of the vegetable you probably grew in your own garden.
They are green beans, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, beets, cantaloupe, garlic and carrots. The food banks and pantries are expected to benefit from the educational demonstrations at the gardens. She says people who came out to the research farms got to learn about the things they could grow to donate to the local food pantry. You can find out more information about the demonstration programs and how you can become a Master Gardener online at: www.extension.iastate.edu/mastergardener.
The Shelby County Emergency Management Agency says the field and grassland Fire Danger category will remain HIGH until at least Thursday (Oct. 20th), when the rating may be upgraded to EXTREME. In the mean time, authorities are asking anyone who plans to conduct controlled burns to contact their local fire chief, first. Be sure and call 755-2124 also, with the location of your burn, so dispatchers can gather logistical data.
If conditions continue to deteriorate and an EXTREME Fire Danger Warning is issued, absolutely no outdoor burning would be permitted unless you have a signed permit from the local Fire Chief. Fires on Extreme days can grow rapidly and pose a risk to the Health and Safety of the Community. If you have any questions please call 712-755-2124.
Farmers across Iowa are busy trying to get their crops out of the field before winter, but many still find time to help their neighbors do so as well. In southeast Iowa’s Lee County, this harvest season would have been extremely difficult for Joann Knisley, of rural Donnellson. Her husband, Bill, died this summer from injuries he sustained in a farm accident. “Bill was a very wonderful husband. Everybody loved him,” Knisley said. “He would help anybody.” A lot of people loved Bill back and helped the Knisley family harvest more than 150 acres of corn and soybeans.
“I knew we had lots of friends when he passed away because we had 831 people show up at the funeral home and people went home because the line was so long. I mean, you know you have friends, but you don’t know how many friends you really have until something like this happens,” Knisley said. Joann was hoping her family could take care of the entire harvest, but they ran into equipment troubles. That’s when Joann’s brother, Gary Schiller, stepped in.
“I told my sister, don’t worry about the crop, we will put something together to take it out,” Schiller said. He began spreading the word and last Tuesday, more than 30 people showed up to help – including neighbors and FFA students from Central Lee High School. The harvesting crew cleared Joann and Bill Knisley’s fields in about six hours. Joann says her husband had a deep passion for farming.
“In fact, the day before my husband got hurt, I picked him up at another farm we rent and he said, ‘just look at the silks on this corn, it’s beautiful. And all the ears on the corn.’ So we have a record crop and he is not here to see it,” Knisley said. The land Bill maintained will continue to be farmed in the future. Joann plans to lease or rent it in time for planting season next spring.
The City of Atlantic’s Parks and Recreation Department Board is set to consider a request from Deb Smith, for an area to be designated as a new park. The request, more information and the Board’s consideration, will come during their meeting this (Monday) evening, at City Hall.
During their 5:15-p.m. session, the Parks and Rec Board will also receive updates on or from: The Sunnyside Pool improvement Steering Committee; the Schildberg Trail #2 Shore Stabilization Project; the Trevor Frederickson Field Renovation; an Enhance Iowa application update (pertaining to the Schildberg Rec Area), and a request to Atlantic Municipal Utilities with regard to the Schildberg Campground project.
The Board will also discuss Matt Iekel’s landscape renovation plans and the Harvest Festival set for Nov. 21st.