monarch nice 1000 An Iowa Department of Natural Resources project is correcting the mistakes of 100 years ago on the Skunk River and helping the declined monarch population, leaders say.
Ryan Harr, an Iowa DNR special projects wildlife biologist, said about 80 to 100 years ago the river was channeled for farming purposes at the cost of the wetlands. Through a project receiving over $10 million in funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, the wetlands will be restored, reducing flooding.
Restoration will also focus on the monarch habitat to aid the species that has declined over the last 20 years, and improves water quality, a growing issue in Iowa. The project also preserves a beloved spot for outdoor activities.
"We have multiple goals here," Harr said. "We're also trying to provide more opportunities for Iowans to get out and recreate."
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The project is part of the Wetland Reserve Easement Program and Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program.
Through these programs, landowners can voluntarily apply to place an easement on their farm, meaning they continue to own the property but agree to not use it for agricultural production. The Iowa DNR will be using the easements along the Skunk River to restore acres of riverine wetland and grassland habitats.