The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has begun two renovation projects in the Cardinal Marsh Wildlife Management Area aimed at benefiting wildlife and the public.
The first project improves the boat ramp and parking area northwest of the larger wetland.For years the gravel boat ramp had maintenance issues every time a hard rain occurred, which made use and maintenance very difficult and costly at times.This project will fix these issues by replacing the existing gravel access with a concrete ramp.This project will be funded with the Marine Fuel Tax, which is an excise tax on boating fuel that is directly used to enhance facilities used by boaters.
The second improvement project involves the smaller four wetlands that lie east of the large wetland.These wetlands were constructed in the 1980's. They have provided water clarification and excellent wetland habitat for a large variety of wetland plant and wildlife species. However, the condition of these dikes continues to degrade. Current water control structures are undersized for larger rain events. The goal of this project is to reshape and improve the four dikes while replacing the water control structures. This project will be funded by the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program.
The boat ramp and parking is expected to be completed within a month. The four wetlands project may not be completed until late summer. Fall water depths will be dependent on appropriate dike vegetation for erosion control and sufficient water flows into the system. Users will need to check fall water levels prior to recreation outings. Any temporary low water conditions will be outweighed by better long term management improvements.