June 25, 2015
Douglas Burns, co-owner of the Jefferson herald, lobbied three members of Iowa’s congressional delegation and their staffs for a National Wildlife Refuge designation for Dunbar Slough during three days of economic-development sessions last week in Washington, D.C. focused on west-central Iowa.
Burns, a member of the Carroll Area Development Corporation, Greene County Development Corporation, Midwest Partnership (Adair, Audubon, Greene and Guthrie counties) and the Orient-based Wallace Centers of Iowa, spoke directly with U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley and Congressman Steve King, all Iowa Republicans, about the hunting, conservation and economic-development benefits a key federal designation for Dunbar could provide for the region. Burns joined King and a small group of western Iowans for a dinner in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., where a number of other business and farm issues were discussed.
“The Dunbar designation would be a regional lift, creating a waterfowl hunting mecca in between Carroll and Jefferson and Lake Panorama, all prospering commercial centers,” Burns said. “Our part of the state is well positioned for an attraction like the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in central Iowa. A National Wildlife Refuge would fit beautifully with other outdoor attractions as well as the Wild Rose casino opening in Jefferson and Carroll’s continuing draw for events and visitors.”
Burns noted that a Dunbar Slough refuge would be a perfect place for Ernst, King and Grassley to interact informally with high-profile political visitors who enjoy hunting.
“It’s really not that far from Boone, Senator Ernst, where your Roast & Ride is taking place every year,” Burns said. “Imagine the opportunities for bringing Republican presidential candidates to Dunbar for waterfowl hunting.”
The National Wildlife Refuge designation could apply to both Dunbar Slough and much of the surrounding Southern Prairie Pothole Region—a 23,500-acre area. The area stretches roughly from sough of Ralston to Bayard.
The U.S> Fish and Wildlife Service would designate boundaries for additional land that could be added to the refuge. Federal funds would be made available to help expand and manage the refuge, which would broaden further as private landowners voluntarily became involved.
“This is sure no federal land grab, please understand that,” Burns said. “This designation has broad-based support in our region and would celebrate a quality of life and flourishing culture of active outdoors living and hunting.”
Burns stressed that much of the refuge’s land would remain privately owned, with an emphasis on farming conservation practices.
The current acres designated as Dunbar Slough fall within western Greene County, but the refuge’s expansion could eventually touch Guthrie and Caroll counties as well.
Burns traveled to Washington, D.C. with the Carroll Area Development Corporation’s Access Washington delegation. Other issues of interest to Greene County: strong support from Carroll delegation for the four-laning of U.S. Highway 30 from Carroll to Jefferson and advocacy for rural hospitals.
Courtesy of the Jefferson Herald 6/25/15 and the Guthrie Center Times 7/1/15.