PHEASANTS FOREVER has lots of volunteers throughout the entire spectrum of its Chapters all over the USA. Locally, we have a winner in our midst. As a dedicated volunteer, Ray Zeisneiss has used his skills and aspirations to help pheasants and other wildlife on the ground, planting habitat for the critters to use for food, shelter, nesting and predator escape.
Habitat projects included assisting landowners with food plots, prairie grass seeding, trees and shrubs on lots of private land throughout Marshall County. In an agriculturally dominated state like Iowa, there still is room for birds like pheasants if the right combination of habitat is established, maintained and allowed to provide for wildlife. Ray Z. helped put these sites to work for wildlife.
The PF Award into the Iowa Hall of Fame stated this: Ray Zeisneiss, during his 25 years as a volunteer, specialized in habitat projects on 1,183 areas which totaled 6,942 acres. Trees and shrubs totaled over 230,000. Ray has become an expert in how to plant native grasses using special equipment including a prairie grass drill purchased by the local PF Chapter and the Marshall County Conservation Board.
T-R photo By Garry Brandenburg
Ray Zeisneiss of rural Albion was recently honored with a statewide award from Pheasants Forever. His award is now added to the Iowa Hall of Fame for Pheasants Forever. At the statewide convention held recently in Des Moines, Ray’s record of achievements with the Marshall County Chapter of PF was noted: Office holder in the local chapter and habitat chairman for the last 25 years. Congrats to Ray Zeisneiss for a job well done.
Zeisneiss likes to hunt. And he also devotes outdoor time to cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, farming, reading, and wood working. When not doing those things, he is planning for next years PF habitat needs and getting the equipment ready to do the job. Landowners with potential PF habitat projects are encouraged to contact Ray this winter for work to do later this year. Call Ray at 488-2282.
PHEASANT FEST is going on today and Sunday in Omaha, NE, should you be so inclined to take a little road trip to the western part of this state. This event rotates venues in the Midwestern states each year. Des Moines gets its turn about every 4 years. Lots of western Iowa, northwest Missouri and eastern Nebraska folks will attend this huge display of pheasant related gear, guns, hunting dogs, lodges and more. Habitat projects are a big item also at these events with DNR folks on hand to assist in project planning. It is big business for the outdoor recreation industry and a great association for long term conservation on the land.
With that thought in mind, consider these facts pertaining to Iowa. Conservation efforts on the land, both private and public draw people. People will spend considerable time and money to go where the habitat is, to find places to hunt on private or public places. Indirectly the money spent by hunters and other outdoor recreation pursuits filters back into the economy.
The National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-associated Recreation has compiled these impressive numbers. Iowa has about 518,000 anglers and hunters which puts Iowa in 29th place ranking. Together they spent $1.8 million per day for a total of $661 million. This covers all costs associated with a fishing trip or a hunt, such things like gas, motels, food, licenses, equipment, dogs and dog food, etc. The list goes on and on.
Hunting and fishing sports are responsible for over 12,000 jobs with a combined salary/wages of $302 million. These same anglers and hunters pay $67 million in federal taxes, $64 million in state and local taxes. Outdoor recreation in Iowa is no small insignificant item. What the outdoors person spends does trickle down through the economy.
Less than one percent of the lands and waters of Iowa's 56,276 square miles are under ownership or management by the DNR. Lands that the DNR has acquired over the past decades have come from willing sellers at prices equal to or below fair market value. The huge majority of the park land, wildlife areas or fishing related cooperative projects are on lands not suitable for farming. These lands are often looked at by other interests as "waste" (a term that implies a complete lack of understanding). Iowa ranks 49th of the 50 states in the amount of public land available for people to use.
Outdoor recreation by hunters, anglers, campers, and a host of other related activities like wildlife viewing stack up well. According to the ISU Center for Agricultural and Rural Development study titled "Economic Value of Iowa's Natural Resources, visits to Iowa's state and county parks, lakes and trails translates to 50 million visits, supporting in some fashion 27,400 jobs and generates statewide spending of $2.63 billion. The study determined that each acre of a public wildlife area generates $402 annually in economic activity.
I point these facts out to you to help keep you informed. A huge reason why our quality of life in Iowa is so good is the role outdoor recreation and state and local conservation efforts play in making unique places available for us to enjoy. Add that to some very impressive private conservation efforts on the part of landowners and it adds up. We have a lot of good things going for us. Wisely using those assets is an on-going challenge.
FISHING through holes cut in the surface of area lakes is going well. Bluegills and crappies are a popular catch but on occasions, one may get a northern, a walleye or bass. The neat thing about ice fishing is how it is a great equalizer. Access to any part of a lake is now available to people of all ages with the simplest forms of tip-it pole, a bucket to sit on and waxworms as bait. Inexpensive defines what I just described. Union Grove, Rock Creek, Hickory Grove, Green Castle and every farm pond is now a fishing opportunity. Try it, you'll like it.
Fish of another species, TROUT, are now in the heavy production mode at the DNR Manchester Hatchery in northeast Iowa. Brood trout in the 5 to 10 pound range are being gently processed for their eggs right now. The Manchester facility raises 300,000 rainbow trout that will eventually be stocked in streams in the northeast portions of Iowa. Trout hatched in 2011 will stay at the fish hatchery until at least the spring of 2012 before they are ready for release.
DEER ANTLER scoring will be the focus of a public program at 7 p.m. on Feb. 22 at the Conservation Center at the GrimesFarm. Official measurers will be on hand to put steel tapes on the antlers of an Iowa buck you may have taken this past year. Most folks are interested in how the process is done, and what the final score may be for their trophy deer. Come join the group for an interesting evening to learn about the huge variety of antler forms nature produces.
Some dates to remember: On Wednesday from 10 to 11 a.m. at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center is Nature Story Hour for preschoolers; Friday at noon, is the deadline for entries in the MCCB's 10th annual Photo Contest; Feb. 8 is a Brown Bag Bunch program on Bison Mysteries from11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the GrimesFarm & Conservation Center; Feb. 9 is the Photo Contest Awards Chili Supper, advance tickets, available at the Grimes Farm & Conservation Center, are $3 for adults and $1 for children 12 and under.
Wisdom or wit? Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.
Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.