In a state where less than 2% of the landmass is publicly accessible, and even less open to hunting and fishing, the Iowa Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers has identified a need to increase opportunity through land acquisition. Over the past year, IA BHA has helped to fund acquisitions on properties in 3 counties across the state through partnerships with County Conservation Boards and other NGO partners.
1.) IA BHA supported Lyon County Conservation and Director Justin Smith in the recent acquisition of the Nachtigal property which adds 40 acres in Northwest Iowa for public fishing and hunting. Funds from those purchasing BHA memberships, dollars donated by a BHA corporate partner, and a letter of support from BHA for the Iowa Habitat Stamp Grant helped open this ground for public access. A 15 acre fishing pond and a half-mile section of the Little Rock River including several oxbows are key features that make these 40 acres a great addition to our public lands. An adjoining 130 acres also will be purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service adding even more land for public hunting in Iowa.
2.) Iowa BHA also recently supported Chickasaw County Conservation Director Chad Humpal in the successful acquisition of the 220th Street property. Chickasaw County Conservation has purchased 205 acres of spectacular upland hunting ground in Northeast Iowa that is expected to be open to the public for the start of the 2023 pheasant season.
3.) A third addition to our Iowa public lands was spearheaded by Zach Hall, Director of Ida County Conservation, in West Central Iowa. The Rich Smith Wildlife Habitat Area is a 103 acre addition to public upland and bowhunting ground that will also reduce erosion in the watershed of 62 acre Crawford Creek Lake helping to preserve this public fishing opportunity in Ida County. This was a comprehensive effort by the Iowa Chapter of BHA, in which the chapter donated directly to the purchase and created a fundraising page to generate donations from BHA members in Iowa and nationwide, as well as corporate partners.
All Iowans purchasing a Habitat Stamp have also supported these additional opportunities for public hunting and fishing. Each acquisition was generously funded by Habitat Stamp grants which also assure access to all of these acres for public hunting and fishing.
In total, efforts by IA BHA helped add 478 acres for public hunting and fishing during 2022-23, and with the continuing help of our Iowa members, BHA continues to lend our support to adding additional acres with public access throughout our state.