The Nature Conservancy announced today that it will receive$100,000 from the Alliant Energy Foundation for its work within the Lower Cedar Valley in southeast Iowa. The gift will advance the Conservancy’s efforts to restore land within the region’s floodplain.
“We want to thank the Alliant Energy Foundation for this generous gift for conservation,” said Sean McMahon, director of The Nature Conservancy in Iowa. “By working with willing landowners to restore relatively unproductive farmland, we can help reduce the impacts of future floods— protecting life and property— and at the same time improve habitat for native fish and wildlife.”
“The Alliant Energy Foundation is pleased to invest in restoring the floodplain to its natural condition, which is a positive for the both the environment and for the communities located near the river,” said Barbara Swan, Alliant Energy Foundation President. “Increasing the amount of water that the floodplain can store reduces peak flood levels downstream and that helps reduce future flooding potential for the homes and businesses within the Lower Cedar Valley as well as within the communities we serve.”
The Conservancy’s strategies on the Lower Cedar Valley include:
More than 300species of native plants and over 40different types of reptiles and amphibians are found in the region due to the great variety of habitat found there including sand prairie, floodplain forest and oak savanna. The valley is also home to swamp white oak woodlands and rich peat fens, which are exceptionally rare plant communities not only in Iowa but also on Earth.
“The diversity of native plants and wildlife within the Lower Cedar Valley — including rare massasauga rattlesnakes and ornate box turtles — makes it a priority for conservation,” said Matt Fisher, the Conservancy’s Eastern Iowa project director.
Still, there is room for improvement. The Lower Cedar Valley’s floodplain oak savannas were established when the forest was more open. Fire and seasonal floods controlled growth. Without adequate fire, too many trees grow in an unnatural density. The forest then becomes shadier, preventing new oak trees from growing and suppressing understory plants. The Cedar River also is flooding unnaturally, causing certain populations of plants and animals to decline.
“We need to work harder than ever to make sure that the high-level of destruction caused by the flooding of June2008 does not reoccur in the future,” said Tom Aller, Alliant Energy - Interstate Power and Light President. “It’s important that we and others invest to improve the Lower Cedar Valley and bring balance back to the natural areas and floodplain.”
The Conservancy currently owns more than 1,000acres in the valley and an additional 20,000acres have been protected by private landowners and partners. The Conservancy is working with partners to focus on natural areas management, sharing research and developing science-based conservation plans.
Long-term goals include working with partners to conserve and restore 5,000acres of swamp white oak and floodplain savannas through controlled fire and other science-based techniques and to create a viable aquatic passage to the Mississippi River, providing critical habitat for large freshwater fish that spawn in its tributaries.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.