Every year tens of thousands of tourists visit Padre Island, which has the most important nesting habitat in the U.S. for the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. The island is also a key stop along the Central Flyway for over 380 bird species, including brown pelicans, piping plovers and peregrine falcons. As part of a $16-million effort that was partially funded by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement, The Nature Conservancy purchased over 6,200 acres on South Padre Island—the largest conservation transaction on the island since TNC acquired about 25,000 acres there in 2000—to help ensure the island’s dunes, coastal prairies and wind tidal flats remain healthy for years to come.
An 834-acre expanse of native prairie and woodlands in western Iowa’s Loess Hills has been protected from development. The Nature Conservancy’s more than $2.5-million acquisition connects two properties already owned by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), establishing a complex of almost 3,000 contiguous acres that will be safeguarded for migrating birds and other native species such as monarch butterflies, bull snakes, skeleton weed and prairie moonwort.
Over the next three to five years, TNC will gradually transfer the property to the Iowa DNR. It will be managed to sustain healthy prairie habitat and offer recreational access for hunting, hiking and birding.