Vandals with a gripe against the Department of Natural Resources have caused a small environmental mess in far eastern Iowa. There’s a waterfowl refuge at the Princeton State Wildlife Management Area, on the banks of the Mississippi about 10 miles north of the Quad Cities. Over the weekend, D-N-R conservation specialist Terry Jones says someone let diesel fuel drain into the swamp. There was a 250-gallon tank there, and most of its contents drained out.
Jones says some stuck in the soil, some of the diesel ran into the swamp and some down the shores and into thick vegetation. That’s making it tough to clean up and they had to call in some experts. The tank of fuel powered a pump that controlled water levels in parts of the marshland waterfowl management area. D-N-R workers soaked up as much as they could but an independent contractor’s been hired to come in and help with the cleanup.
Jones explains the area’s a wildlife refuge and the pumps are used to control water levels in its “cells” to manage the migrating waterfowl. In summer the water’s low but Jones says in the fall they raise it so the migrating ducks can feed there. Wildlife experts discussed pushing all the vegetation underwater so the oil would float off, or partially draining the marsh in hopes the oil would flow out. They finally decided on a third option, calling in a cleanup contractor.
“Somebody did it intentionally,” says Jones. He says that was clear because there were parts taken off a tractor and a tire removed, all thrown into the water. “It was pretty obvious it was vandals.” He thinks somebody has a grudge against the agency, but points out their actions cost the state money and hurt the environment.