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Find out what's happening in the blog. Below is a list of blog items.

Jul 06

The Blackbird Family in Iowa

Posted to Naturally Speaking with Steve Lekwa by Erica Place

Blackbirds belong to a large and varied family known as the Icteridae (or just Icterids). It includes birds that don’t appear to have much in common. Sweet-singing orioles, meadow larks, and bobolinks also belong, as do parasitic cow birds. Blackbirds are by far the most common of the group in our part of the world, and can hardly be called sweet-singing. Although the “kon-ka-reee” call of the male Red-winged Blackbird isn’t quite musical, many find it pleasant and a welcome sign that spring has arrived. Some of his other calls are more like the rest of his blackbird cousins – screeching and squawking. Several species of blackbirds nest in Iowa, and others migrate through or winter here.

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Jul 07

DNR to Eliminate the Remaining Fish Population at Hickory Grove Lake

Posted to The Greenprint by Erica Place

Story County Conservation (SCC) and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are partnering to renovate the remaining fishery in Hickory Grove Lake. The DNR will treat Hickory Grove Lake later this summer (pending workable weather conditions) with rotenone, a botanical pesticide, to eliminate the remaining fish population.

An attempt was made last fall/winter to drain and dry the lake basin to rid the lake of common carp, grass carp, and black bullhead. These injurious fish species reduce water clarity, destroy aquatic plants, and prevent the fishery from reaching its full potential.

Unfortunately, common carp were observed this spring as the lake was refilling. “The most effective method to eliminate the remaining fish population is to apply rotenone to the lake basin and tributaries,” said Ben Dodd, DNR Fisheries Management Biologist.

Rotenone is used world-wide and has been since the 1930’s.  It is a common tool that fisheries managers use for managing sport fish, improving water quality, and managing endangered species.  Rotenone is a naturally occurring compound that comes from the roots of a tropical plant in the bean family.  The DNR commonly uses the commercially available formulation, 5% Prenfish, which has been approved for fisheries management by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA has concluded that the use of rotenone for fish control does not present a risk of unreasonable adverse effects to humans or the environment. The EPA certifies all pesticides based on use according to label directions, which the DNR is equipped to fulfill these obligations.

Eliminating injurious fish species is an imperative and final step to achieve water quality and fishery goals.

Learn more about the Hickory Grove Lake restoration project on the SCC website at