The installation of new water control structures at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge in Holt County has been completed.
Nikki Horne, visitor services specialist, said the installation of the three new wells and pumps were completed in January. The fully operational structures will allow staff to better control water levels for wildlife that visit the refuge.
In early June, Rieschick Drilling Company in Falls City, Nebraska, was selected as the contractor.
The project specifically addresses the water shortage issues with the goal of improving habitat for shorebirds, marsh birds, ducks, geese, bald eagles, reptiles and amphibians.
The refuge attracts up to 130,000 visitors per year and provides an opportunity to educate the public on the importance of diverse land habitats and the wildlife species that depend on them.
To complete this project, wetland pools on the refuge were drawn down throughout September to allow surveyors and contractors to complete groundwork at the designated well locations.
The locations were marked with flagging and contractors drilled test wells the week of August 3. She said significant rainfall and flooding on the refuge in late summer delayed the project.
The south well has an output of 700 gallons per minute and supplies water to Eagle Pool, Pelican Pool and Pelican Pool Moist Soil Unit.
The northwest well has an output of 1,700 gallons per minute and supplies water to North Pintail Pool and South Mallard Marsh.
The northeast well has an output of 3,400 gallons per minute and supplies water to Davis Creek Moist Soil Units, Cattail Pool and Eagle Pool.
The installation of these wells and pump systems will help provide water to over 2,000 acres of seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands.
Levee work on Eagle Pool is scheduled for spring 2021.
The renovations were part of a larger wetland enhancement project.
Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service have been working together to complete this portion of a large-scale wetland enhancement project with the help of a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant (NAWCA).
The grant was received in May 2019. This project is an effort to focus on the acquisition and restoration of major wetland and grassland complexes within the Missouri River Alluvial Plain and associated tributaries in western Iowa and northwest Missouri.
She said the purpose of this grant is to improve water management at eight different locations including Loess Bluffs NWR.
Some of the groups that contributed included the Friends of Loess Bluffs NWR, the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame, Midland Empire Audubon Society, Burroughs Audubon Society and Ducks Unlimited.