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DRIFTLESS AREA NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE McGregor, Iowa ANNUAL NARRATIVE REPORT FY2000

REFUGE - FWS

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Text of REFUGE - FWS

McGregor, Iowa
Prepared by Jlu/oJ.. Date



1. Location
The Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1989 for the protection and recovery of the threatened Northern monkshood and endangered Iowa Pleistocene snail. These species occur on a rare habitat type termed algific talus slopes. These are slopes with outflows of cold underground air that provide a glacial relict habitat to which certain species have adapted (see diagram below). The Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge consists of seven units scattered throughout Clayton, Dubuque, and Jackson Counties in northeast Iowa. Total Refuge acreage is 618 acres with individual units ranging from 6 to 208 acres. Acquisition targets not only the algific slope , but surrounding buffer habitat that includes sinkholes important to air flow to the slope. Acquisition is ongoing, but limited due to insufficient funds.
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2. Topography
Refuge units are primarily forested and generally consist of steep topography with narrow creek valleys, large rock outcroppings, and karst features. Riparian and grassland habitat also occur on the Refuge.
3. Points of Interest
The algific talus slope habitat of the Refuge harbors many unusual and rare plant and land snail species, some of which are also on the state threatened and endangered species list. These areas tend to be scenic with cliffs and rock outcroppings, springs, and coldwater streams.
4. Physical Facilities



a. Surveys and Censuses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 b. Studies and Investigation.................................. 1
2. Habitat Restoration a. Wetland Restoration ...................................... NTR b. Upland Restoration....................................... 2 c. Deep Water/Riverine Restoration .......................... NTR
3. Habitat Management a. Water Level Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NTR b. Moist Soil Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NTR c. Graze/Mow/Hay. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NTR d. Farming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 e. Forest Management ........................................ NTR f. Fire Management. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 g. Pest Plant Control. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 h. Other Habitat Management ................................. NTR
4. Fish and Wildlife Management
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a. Bird Banding ............................................. NTR b. Disease Monitoring and Treatment ......................... NTR c. Reintroductions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . NTR d. Nest Structures .......................................... NTR e. Pest, Predator and Exotic Animal Control ................. NTR
Coordination Activities a. Interagency Coordination ................................ . b. Private Lands Activities ................................ .
Resource Protection a. Law Enforcement ......................................... . b. Permits and Economic Use Management ..................... . c. Contaminant Investigation ............................... . d. Contaminant Cleanup ...................... ; .............. . e. Water Rights Management ................................. . f. Cultural Resource Management ............................ . g. Land Acquisition Support ................................ . h. Wilderness or Special Areas ............................. .
Public Education and Recreation a. Provide Visitor Services.· ............................... . b. Outreach ................................................ . c. Hunting ................................................. . d. Trapping ................................................ . e. Fishing ................................................. . f. Other Public Use ........................................ .
Planning and Administration a. Comprehensive Conservation Planning ..................... . b. General Administration .................................. . c. Safety .............................................. .' ... . d. Maintenance ............................................. .
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10. Items of Interest ............................................. NTR
11. Climatic Conditions ........................................... NTR
Recovery status report completed for Northern monkshood and Iowa Pleistocene snail
Audubon group tours Refuge.
New public use signs placed on two Refuge units.



1. a. Surveys and Censuses
Endangered species recovery funding was received from the Rock Island Field Office to establish a database for monkshood monitoring data, and to review and update the algific slope database. Monkshood monitoring began in 1991, but data were never entered into an electronic database for analyses. The algific slope data set that the Iowa DNR maintains was outdated and contained erroneous and duplicate entries. Information in the data set is used to determine the status of recovery efforts for Northern monkshood and the Iowa Pleistocene snail. Janet Reis and Wayne Ostlie were contracted to correct and update these data.
ROS Henry accompanied Ursula Petersen of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture to monitor monkshood populations on the Kickapoo Reserve. The reserve is being transferred to the State of Wisconsin and the He­ Chunk Nation. The area contains several Northern monkshood sites. Monkshood tends to grow on moist sandstone cliffs in this area rather than algific talus slopes.
Summer Intern Peter Ziegler obtained used GPS to obtain georeferenced coordinates for boundaries of two of the Refuge Units as well as the cooperative farm fields at the Howard Creek Unit. These were entered into a GIS layer.
ROS Henry assisted with biological surveys on the McGregor District.
l.b. Studies and Investigations
Data were compiled for a report on the recovery status of the Iowa Pleistocene snail and Northern monkshood. The report reviewed the status of recovery efforts and Refuge goals and needs . This included incorporating the entire algific slope data set into a GIS layer.
Past information on population numbers varies greatly for these species, therefore a minimum and maximum population size were used to estimate the percentages of the populations that are protected . The primary findings of the report were that 39-44 % of the total known monkshood population and 56-60% of the Iowa Pleistocene snail population is currently protected by conservation agency ownership. Forty-seven of the 114 monkshood sites and 22 of 37 snail sites are protected. Although only two more sites would be needed to reach the delisting goal for the snail outlined in the recovery plan, current data are needed on
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population sizes on these sites. In addition, more sites have been found since the recovery plan was written. Some harbor only small populations that may not be considered viable for the purposes of recovery. This report will be a framework for resuming acquisition and other efforts on the Driftless Area NWR. The report was sent to Ecological Services, Iowa DNR, and The Nature Conservancy.
The American Ginseng status report was submitted to the Regional Office for the Refuge.
2. HABITAT IUi:STORATION
2 .b. Up1and Restoration
Brush was removed by hand from one prairie remnant on the Howard Creek Unit.
3. HABITAT MANAGEMENT
3. d. Farming
A new cooperative farming field (23 acres) was established at the Howard Creek Unit of the DANWR with the purpose of controlling box elder invasion in preparation for native prairie plantings. Two fields totaling about 50 acres will be under the plow beginning this year for a three year period. These fields were former crop fields that had been planted to cool season grasses subsequently invaded by box elders and other invasive species .
3.£. Fire Management
Burn proposals were submitted for the Howard Creek and Fern Ridge units. Fire breaks were prepared at the Howard Creek Unit of the Driftless Area NWR, but weather and personnel were never available at the same time to complete burns.
3.q. Pest P1ant Contro1
The annual weed inventory and pesticide use report were submitted to the RO. The most abundant and problematic weed species are leafy spurge, garlic mustard, wild parsnip, and Canada 'thistle.
Flea beetles for control of leafy spurge were released at the Howard Creek Unit. The beetles were obtained courtesy of the USDA in Des Moines. 10,000 beetles .were released at two sites where spurge infestations are spreading. Other leafy spurge locations on the Howard Creek unit were treated with Plateau herbicide.
Intern Ziegler mowed wild parsnip at the Howard Creek Unit of the Driftless Area NWR to attempt control of this biannual invasive plant .
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5. a. Interagency Coordination
A letter was sent to the Clayton County Engineer regarding the Driftless Area NWR sites to improve communication on activities that may impact the Refuge. A major road ditch clean out in 1999 impacted fencing at the Fern Ridge Unit.
DM Lindell and ROS Henry participated with The Nature Conservancy in watershed planning for Buck Creek, Clayton County, IA. The Buck Creek watershed has a high number of algific slopes as well as a fair amount of forest habitat. TNC has identified it as a priority conservation site.
ROS Henry met with Joel Lindaman who purchased the farm adjacent to the Cow Branch unit of the DANWR concerning fencing and erosion problems. The buyer wants the unit fenced but eroding ditches will make fencing difficult. He is willing to pursue conservation practices with NRCS and possibly sell a buffer zone to us.
ROS Henry flagged the Refuge boundary at Kline Hunt Hollow south of Guttenberg as well as adjacent monkshood sites on private land for Nelson Hardwoods who plan to log the adjacent property. Steve Nelson from the company visited the site. A follow up letter was sent regarding algific slopes and endangered species in northeast Iowa. They avoided the monkshood sites but left some cut tree tops over the Refuge boundary and knocked over a boundary sign. They were contacted to remedy the situation.
ROS Henry met with Don Rudolph from Dairyland Power to discuss replacement of power poles on the Howard Creek unit of the Driftless Area NWR. They will be replacing a large section of this line to include two poles on the Refuge .
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ROS Henry met with Iowa DNR botanist and preserves manager, John Pearson to inspect a proposed ATV Park site near Elkader, Iowa . The site contains a monkshood population and two algific slopes . John wrote a site plan that required these sites to be fenced if it is made into an ATV park. The Service would assist with fencing and be interested in purchasing the portion of the property with algific slopes. The site was later dropped for an ATV park due to local opposition.
S. b . Priva te Lands
The Driftless Area NWR received $35,000 under the Service's Endangered Species Private Landowners Incentives Program. This funding will be used to take any needed management actions on privately owned algific slopes such as fencing, and to develop agreements with landowners to protect endangered species sites. This project is being done in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy. Landowner contacts began towards the end of the fiscal year and will continue into 2001.
ROS Henry responded to several landowner requests for Partners for Wildlife funding and conducted site visits.
Meetings for the Upper Iowa River Watershed Alliance were attended. The Upper Iowa River is a scenic river that has a lot of recreational value and also empties into Pool 9 of the Upper Mississippi River NWFR. Contributing sediment loads have long been thought to be high from the Upper Iowa. Funding for bank stabilization along the Upper Iowa was given to the Lime Springs Fish and Game Club.
Upper Iowa River



ROS Henry attended the Iowa Private Lands meeting at Neal Smith NWR .
6. RESOURCE PROTECTION
6.a. Law Enforcement
All Refuge units were patrolled several times throughout the year. Boundary signs were replaced where needed.
ROS Henry attended the Upper Miss annual law enforcement meeting in LaCrosse on February 23, 24 with McGregor District staff. Headquarters park ranger Dave Lescaleet held discussions on many river LE issues.
The annual law enforcement report was submitted to Bob Bartels for Driftless Area NWR. ROS Henry attended the annual LE refresher.
ROS Henry patrolled for deer hunters before the November 1 opener during muzzleloader season. ROS Henry also worked the Howard Creek unit for the Iowa Pheasant opener October 30 since the Refuge doesn't open until November 1. Warnings were issued to three individuals.
Temporary public use regulation signs were posted on the Howard Creek and Fern Ridge units due to complaints, primarily from one individual, that it is difficult to find out the regulations for the Refuge. Metal public use signs were later obtained from the sign shop and posted at the Howard Creek and Fern Ridge units. All other units were posted with closed area signs .
Surveyor Gary Kratz, from the Regional Office, made a visit to the Refuge to locate survey markers on the Cow Branch Unit so that signing could be completed. Apparently, the surveyor never.placed some of the rods. Gary took care of this and the remainder of the signs were placed.
ROS Henry assisted throughout the year with law enforcement on the McGregor District.
6.b. Permits and Economic Use Management
A Special Use Permit was issued to Kevin Heims authorizing use of an easement to one of the Driftless Area NWR units to access his property. He discovered when he sold the property that an access easement was not transferred to him or anyone except the FWS. The neighbors would not give him permission to access through their land (over which the easement runs), but a permit was issued to allow him to plant a crop. A gate was installed on the easement at the request of the landowner. The gate will not be locked. A solicitor's opinion was finally received regarding issuance of permits by the Refuge for use of the easement. As it turns out, we cannot issue a permit unless the landowner gives permission to do so. Therefore, we withdrew from the issue, leaving Heims and new landowner, Joel Lindaman to determine another route of access .
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6.q. Land Acquisition Support
ROS Henry met with TNC, Bob Dolan of the IDNR and Tim Engelhardt of the Clayton County Conservation Board regarding potential acquisition of a monkshood site near Colesburg, Iowa. A package was submitted to FWS Realty to acquire a portion containing Northern monkshood. Iowa DNR and Clayton County Conservation Board were interested in about 600 acres for a park or wildlife area adjacent to this piece. The IDNR will pursue the effort through Iowa's Resource Enhancement and Protection Act grant process.
A proposal was also submitted to Realty for purchase of 70 additional acres adjacent to the Cow Branch unit to round out the boundary and provide for erosion control and fencing.
ROS Henry accompanied the contract appraiser to look at two proposed Driftless Area properties. The Brockmeyer property and Lindaman property were both appraised.
A land exchange with Raleigh Buckmaster, rural Lansing, Iowa continued, but was not completed this year. The Driftless Area NWR will acquire approximately 17 acres containing three monkshood populations and divest 8 acres of a bluff on the Upper Miss Refuge if the trade is completed. Mr. Buckmaster wishes to include the 8 acre parcel in a conservation easement with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation that would protect a substantial portion of river bluff south of Lansing, Iowa.
Roger Wiederholt, a neighbor to the Lytle Creek unit, called to ask if we would be interested in purchasing additional property. The portion he wanted to sell would not provide us any better access or buffer to protect the algific slope. He was told it was not a good fit for our needs and that acquisition funding is limited.
The Land Acquisition Priority System was completed for the Driftless Area Refuge. The system is in a new format this year.
7. PUBLIC EDUCATION AND RECREATION
7.a. Provide Visitor Services
New public use regulation signs were ordered for the Driftless Area NWR. Information about the Refuge continued to be disseminated through the Upper Miss, McGregor District visitor center. ·
7 .b. outreach
A program was given to Garnavillo third graders at the Howard Creek Unit for Refuge week. They learned about prairies, endangered species, and stream life. Garnavillo High School biology students learned about prairies and stream life for Refuge Week at the Howard Creek unit as well.
ROS Henry responded to interview questions about algific slopes from a
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ROS Henry discusses native prairie with Garnavillo high school students.
columnist with Audubon magazine.
ROS Henry gave the Dubuque Chapter of the Audubon Society a guided tour of the Driftless Area NWR. After a presentation to the group in April about the Refuge they wanted to see the real thing. The group was able to see Northern monkshood and Iowa Pleistocene snail shells at the Howard Creek Unit without having to traverse the fragile slopes. A nearby Iowa DNR Preserve was visited to look at sinkholes. Several members were accomplished botanists and were thrilled to see the Northern monkshood in bloom .
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A presentation about the Refuge was given to the Blufflands Alliance at a meeting at Effigy Mounds NM .
Talks were given to MFL MarMac eighth grade class and first grade class about the Upper Miss and Driftless Refuges. Presentations about the Refuge and wildlife habitat were given to about 400 MFL MarMac students for Earth Day.
A powerpoint presentation for Driftless Area NWR was completed.
ROS Henry assist'ed with the McGregor District's display at the Cabela's (Prairie du Chien) Spring and Fall Expos.
ROS Henry put together three issues of the McGregor District newsletter. The newsletter also highlights the Driftless Area NWR.
7.c.* Hunting
Word is getting out about hunting opportunities on the Howard Creek unit. Pheasant hunters and bow hunters were the primary users.
8. PLANNING AND ADMINISTRATION
B.b. General Administration
ROS Henry completed computer support activities for the McGregor District and Driftless Area NWR including conversion from ccmail to Lotus Notes .
B.c.* Safety
B.f. Personnel
This fiscal year, ROS Henry was able to devote nearly all her time to the Driftless Area Refuge thanks to additional personnel being hired for the McGregor District at the end of Fiscal Year 1999.
9. WILDLIFE
9. a. Endanqered/Threa tened Species
A proposal was submitted to the Regional Office for the Endangered Species Private Lands Incentives Program for work with landowners in the Driftless Area. $35,000 was received.
ROS Henry accompanied Dave DeGeus with Iowa Chapter of The Natu~e Conservancy and Wayne Ostlie, Weather Creek Conservation Consultants, on a snail inventory at the Brockmeyer property in Clayton County. This is a site we are looking to acquire for protection of Northern monkshood. The survey proved to be fruitful with new monkshood populations .found, as well as several rare snail species. One snail species, Columella alticola, has never been recorded in the Driftless Area before. No Iowa
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Pleistocene snails were found .
A portion of fence was replaced at the Bankston Driftless Unit adjacent to John Friedman's property for the protection of the Iowa Pleistocene snail. A fence was also replaced on the south side of the Cow Branch Unit.
ROS Henry inspected a newly discovered algific slope found by Iowa DNR forester Gretchen Holstein in Allamakee County. This is a large slope above Paint Creek that contains a large monkshood population and is in good shape. The landowners have no plans to disturb the area.
ROS Henry met with Twin Cities ES staff, Minnesota DNR biologists, and a professor from St. Olaf college about protection efforts for the threatened Leedy's roseroot. Thus far, there are not any willing sellers that could be contacted by the Refuge for acquisition. However, Minnesota DNR staff and St. Olaf college researchers are monitoring the populations and working with landowners. The plant occurs in only four locations in southeast Minnesota.
9.b. Waterfowl
Wood ducks and mallards were observed along streams on the Refuge.
9.c. Marsh & Waterbirds
Great blue herons were observed along the creek on the Howard Creek and Steeles Branch units.
9. e. Raptors
A red-tailed hawk nest was discovered on the Bankston unit. Bald eagles were observed frequently on the Howard Creek unit.
9. f. Other Migratory Birds
Woodcocks were observed during spring migration at the Howard Creek unit.
9.q. Game Mammals
White-tailed deer are especially abundant on the Howard Creek unit. The algific slopes on this site should be watched for vegetation or trampling damage as deer trails are everywhere .
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9.h.* Other Resident Wildlife
Eastern wild turkeys appear to be abundant on all Refuge units. Two turkey nests were found on the Kline Hunt Hollow and Fern Ridge units.
10.ITEMS OF INTEREST
11. CLIMATIC CONDITIONS