Lime Creek and Winnebago Oxbow Habitat Project Completed!

Posted:6/5/2012 Cerro Gordo / Winnebago Oxbow

The Cerro Gordo County Conservation Board (CGCCB) has completed the habitat improvement projects at the Lime Creek Conservation Area and The Winnebago Oxbow Wildlife Area. Three new wetlands totaling 4 acres were developed at the Lime Creek area and one wetland totaling 3 acres was developed at Winnebago Oxbow. Native prairie vegetation was seeded at each location, with 20 acres seeded at Lime Creek and 10 acres at Winnebago Oxbow.   The newly planted prairie vegetation provides a greater diversity of grasses and flowers for attracting insects and producing seeds for food, provides better winter and nesting cover and will tolerate extreme weather conditions better. Also, historically Iowa was dominated by prairie vegetation, therefore this project will be restoring a bit of history to these areas. The process of converting the existing cool season vegetation to prairie vegetation will involve many steps.   Follow up maintenance will be needed this summer and fall. The required maintenance is a regular mowing of the seeding sites. The new plantings will be mowed when any non- prairie plants grow higher than 8-10 inches and will be mowed to a height of no less than 4 inches. By doing this the prairie vegetation will continue to receive the proper amount of sunlight needed to encourage its maximum growth. While this will reduce the amount of wildlife cover the first year it will greatly improve the wildlife cover in following years. Once the prairie vegetation is established an occasional prescribed burn will be the primary long term maintenance requirement. The periodic prescribed burn will maintain the health and vigor of the prairie vegetation.   The wetland and prairie habitat improvements projects at Lime Creek and Winnebago Oxbow have been a cooperative effort between the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and our agency (CGCCB). The CGCCB applied for and received a grant from the USFWS for wetland restorations and 30 acres of upland habitat improvement on the sites. The USFWS provided the funding while the CGCCB provided the labor and equipment to make these projects possible.