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Senator Proposes Southern Prairie Potholes National Wildlife Refuge

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The Prairie Pothole Region extends across five U.S. states and several Canadian provinces, supporting 75 percent of North America’s waterfowl. Iowa Senator Harkin recently proposed legislation that would protect the northern Iowa portion of this region. (Credit: USFWS)
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin proposed legislation this month that would protect some of the most productive wetlands in the United States. The Southern Prairie Potholes National Wildlife Refuge Act (S. 2845) would restore and preserve approximately 23,500 acres in northern Iowa, including important grasslands and wetlands.

The proposed refuge in northern Iowa is part of North America’s Prairie Pothole Region, which extends through large portions of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and several provinces in Canada. Northern Iowa is at the southeastern edge of this international region and along important migratory flyways.

The Prairie Pothole Region is critical for migratory birds, with approximately 75 percent of North America’s waterfowl dependent on this region for breeding, nesting, and resting during migration. The proposed refuge would provide habitat for many at-risk species including the Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), listed as an endangered species in Iowa and the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii), listed as a threatened species in Iowa. In addition, outdoor enthusiasts benefit from this region’s excellent hunting, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, but a path forward is unclear. Congress is in recess until the election, and no co-sponsors have been listed. Senator Harkin is set to retire from Congress in January 2015.

Sources: Greenwire (September 19, 2014)

This article was automatically imported from The Wildlife Society's policy news feed.
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