Forty areas of Iowa were recently recognized as “Important Bird Areas” under a new program taking flight in the state. Ric Zarwell , the coordinator of the I-B-A’s, says they’re first identified by a special committee. He says the technical committee identifies the species that’re declining most rapidly in Iowa, and then they ask people across the state to nominate the areas where those birds are most likely found. Once the area is identified as an I-B-A, then Zarwell says they move ahead to keep a better track of the area. He says they do more intense monitoring and development of education programs in those designated habitats. He says they work with local stewardship teams to do the monitoring. Zarwell says once they identify and study the areas, then they do what they can to improve and preserve them. He says phase three is the actual restoration and enhancement of the areas to support the bird species identified in them. Zarwell says the Iowa program has been in the works for 22 months, while the I-B-A program itself has been around for years. He says the British started the program and then the Bird Life International program was developed and it spread across Europe and into other countries. He says there are now 132 different nations doing this kind of work. Zarwell oversees the Iowa program, and one of his biggest jobs is raising money to keep it going. He says the 10 Audubon Iowa chapters have been doing some fundraising and he’s been pursuing grants. For more information on the program, surf to www.iowabirds.org.
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