Smith Wildlife Habitat Area Access Project

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Smith Wildlife Habitat Area Access Project


Increase public land hunting access in Iowa!

The Iowa chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is committed to increasing huntable land in Iowa, but we need your help. The chapter is matching funds up to $1000 to increase hunting access in a state with less than 2% public land.

The Smith Wildlife Habitat Area land acquisition project is in Ida County, south of Battle Creek, Iowa. Ida County currently ranks one of the lowest counties in Iowa for public land access. The total property area is 104.8 acres, directly adjacent to Crawford Creek Recreation Area (Ida County’s crown jewel property with a 62-acre lake). The habitat is composed of native, warm season grasses with native and non-native trees for shelter habitat. It is estimated that approximately 55-60% of the property drains into Crawford Creek Lake. It protects the lake from erosion, provides an abundance of wildlife habitat, and is home to game species like pheasants, deer and rabbits. Short-eared (state threatened) and great horned owls have been documented using nearby habitat, along with migrating prairie songbirds.

The Smith Wildlife Habitat Area has been purchased by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) to protect the property and adjacent public ground, but it does not allow public access. INHF is partnering with local conservation coalitions to transfer the land to the Ida County Conservation Board to allow public access that will be reserved for hunting and recreational purposes. Local conservation organizations that are partnering on the project include Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Ida County Conservation Board, Ida County Pheasants Forever, West Central Izaak Walton League, Maple River Ducks Unlimited, Ida County Conservation Foundation and Crooked Spurs of National Wild Turkey Federation. For the first time in Ida County, all local conservation groups met to pursue a shared objective of expanding this parcel.

Thanks to INHF, we have an avenue to prevent the property from being privately purchased and tilled. However, we need to ensure permanent protection of the property and improve public hunting access in Ida County. Of the county’s entire 432 square miles, only 351 acres are open to public hunting with a gun. The Smith WHA would add nearly 30% more public gun hunting in the county and nearly double the county’s public hunting land access (118 acres) at the neighboring park.

Below is a photo of the current huntable land in Ida County, with the blue section being the proposed addition. 

Please donate today and help increase your public access and public hunting for generations to come.

Smith’s Wildlife Habitat Area