PELLA — The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will begin a project to restore a portion of the Pella Wildlife Management Area that was previously used as a strip mine.
The work will require removing trees and other vegetation to allow the landscape to be reshaped to a more natural appearance. This also allows the DNR to physically remove various invasive plant species that are dominating this area. Once that work is done, it will be restored to a native shortgrass prairie with a few oak trees added to create a savanna.
Wetlands will also be restored to the current acreage, providing shallow habitat for amphibians and waterfowl. A few of the pine plantations will also remain to add tree diversity for wildlife use.
Before the project can begin, the Iowa DNR will solicit bids from the public to conduct a salvage timber harvest on the mined areas to allow the wood resource to be used, said Todd Gosselink, wildlife biologist overseeing the Pella Wildlife Area for the Iowa DNR. The harvest will take place in the winter months beginning this December through March 2024.
“This mine reclamation project will only address the sections that were previously mined and will not impact the rest of this wildlife area,” Gosselink said. “We will continue to maintain and improve the other 112 acres of forest on the area.”
The reclamation project was the topic of two public meetings last winter where Gosselink outlined the work to be done, the area impacted along with the project timeline.
“The goal of this project is to improve the wildlife habitat and provide a more usable public wildlife area,” he said. “Restoring the grassland will provide important benefits to grassland birds, quail and pheasants.”
The Pella Wildlife Area covers 277 acres, one mile south of Pella, in Marion County.