Proposed development will be halted before it starts along a stretch of natural shoreline on Big Spirit Lake in northwest Iowa’s Dickinson County. That follows a successful fundraising campaign by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the group’s largest-ever effort.
Anita O’Gara, the foundation’s spokeswoman, says the two-thirds-of-a-mile piece of shoreline is an important ecological area and must be protected. O’Gara says: "This area will become part of the Iowa D-N-R’s wildlife area holdings. It will be open to the public in about a year. There will be extensive wetland and prairie restorations as well as a trail coming through this property.
The trail that encircles Big Spirit Lake will come off the road and through the natural area here." She says the non-profit conservation group spearheaded the project to raise more than 6.6 million dollars to acquire the land. "About five-million dollars came from state appropriations or state conservation funding of one kind or another, public funds. One-point-six-seven million was raised privately from one-thousand-and-50 donors," O’Gara says.
About 90-percent of those private donors live in Iowa, and O’Gara says the other ten-percent had little or no ties to the lake or Iowa, but just saw the importance of saving the stretch of land. She says wetlands restoration on the 93-acre Anglers Bay project will begin this fall, along with prairie planting.
O’Gara says: "This land had been slated for development. About 50 house lots along the edge of the shoreline, each with their individual docks which would have disturbed and killed the bulrushes and aquatic ecosystem along here. That aquatic ecosystem is the spawning ground for the fishing that is the thing that attracts people to Big Spirit Lake." That body of water is Iowa’s largest natural lake.