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The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) plan to dedicate the Conservancy's Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve as Iowa's newest Bird Conservation Area at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The event will be at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center at 4500 Sioux River Road/Highway 12. Brief presentations will be followed by a driving tour of the preserve and an opportunity for a guided hike.

"Designation of Broken Kettle as Iowa's third official Bird Conservation Area, or BCA, will give national recognition to the area's importance for resident and migratory grassland birds," said Bruce Ehresman, DNR Wildlife Diversity Program biologist. "The area is critical habitat for grassland nesting birds, such as northern harrier, grasshopper sparrow, bobolink, dickcissel, western meadowlark and several other species realizing nationwide declines."

Establishing Bird Conservation Areas in Iowa is a priority for DNR's Wildlife Diversity Program. Broken Kettle BCA includes roughly 4,000 acres of land owned and/or managed by the Conservancy, another 2,000 acres owned by DNR and the Plymouth County Conservation Board, plus additional good habitat on other private lands.

Broken Kettle Grassland becomes Iowa's first Bird Conservation Area anchored primarily by private lands. According to Doug Harr, state coordinator for the Wildlife Diversity Program, the DNR is excited about partnering with The Nature Conservancy and other area landowners. "This is a great example of how habitat can be well-managed for birds without extensive government ownership of land," Harr said.

Bass tournament registration

Deadline for "Early Bird" entries in the 2003 Fish America Foundation's Missouri River Open Team Bass Tournament is April 15. Teams registering before this date will be included in the drawing for position when the tournament blasts off Aug. 22.

Last year's tournament attracted 122 bass fishermen who brought in a total of 143 fish weighing 200.78 pounds. Biggest smallmouth was 3.55 pounds.

The tournament takes place on the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers and features over 100 miles of river between Omaha and Yankton, S.D. This is some of the most difficult bass fishing waters anywhere.

Under the direction of Mark Allard, Joe Lander, Phil Claeys, Tim Kacena, Tom Claeys, Steve Noble, Lee Kramer, and George Margeas, the Sioux City Missouri River Team Bass Tournament has grown from 22 boats in 1997 to 34 boats in 1998, 46 boats in 1999 to 50 boats in 2000, 64 boats in 2001 and 60 boats in 2002.

This tournament is a non-profit event and is made possible by local sponsors and many dedicated community members. Check their website for details: www.bassaction.com

Catfish tournament winners

Pat and Darrell Carter, Jefferson, S.D., walked off with the top prizes at the recent U.S. Cats Pro Trail tournament at Owensboro, Ky.

They won first place as well as biggest fish of the tournament. They put together a catch totaling 92.9 pounds for 10 fish which edged the second-place team by a mere two ounces. Their 48.2-pound blue catfish captured the big fish prize.

There were 34 boats entered in the team event. The Carters have been fishing catfish tournaments for the past eight years.

Adams Homestead trails

Trails at Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve near North Sioux City are now more accessible to visitors with physical limitations. The park now has a golf cart available for guided tours of the trail system.

"Our guided tours using the golf cart allows more visitors a chance to explore the trails and view the birds and wildlife that can be found along the Missouri River and around Mud Lake in the park," said Jody Moats, park naturalist at Adams.

Tours are available May through September, each Monday at 2 p.m. or by special arrangements. Call ahead for a reservation. There is no cost. Contact the park by phone at (605) 232-0873 for more information and reservations.

Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve is located one mile west and a half-mile south of Interstate 29, Exit 4.

Larry Myhre is editor of the Journal.

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