Iowa Outdoors

Staff Writer
Story City Herald


Anglers and boaters are reminded to make sure to pull the drain plug as a boat leaves a ramp to avoid spreading unwanted plants or animals to other water bodies.

The regulation, that went into effect on July 1, 2013, requires drain plugs and other water draining devices must be removed and/or remain open during transport. If you want to keep live bait when leaving a water access, you must replace water in bait containers with tap or bottle water.

Anglers leaving with fish are recommended to put them on ice, whether in a cooler, a bucket or a live well (plug must still be removed and/or opened).

“This regulation will help us avoid spreading invasive species from one body of water to another; through residual water inside your boat or vegetation which remains attached to your boat, motor or trailer,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of Fisheries for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Invasive species could range from vegetation such as Eurasian watermilfoil or brittle naiad to water dwelling animals such as zebra mussels—or even minnows purchased elsewhere. Once introduced into another water body, the unwanted species can spread throughout, often with few or no natural predators or vegetation to control the spread. That crowds out native species; disrupting the ecology of the lake or stream…as well as fishing and other recreation.

Is it worth the extra few seconds to pull a drain plug or clean that aquatic plant trailing from your boat motor? It can cost a couple million of your license dollars…and three or four years of your fishing recreation to draw down a lake, kill out the invasive species, renovate it, restock it and wait for fish to grow back to catchable size.


Conifers, or evergreen trees, provide color and wind protection to the Iowa landscape during the winter months. However, this year, many of these trees are showing signs of winter desiccation, also known as winter burn.

Although this past winter may have been one of the warmer on record, several days had air temperatures above freezing, while the soil remained frozen.

“When this happens, conifers use the water reserves they have in their needles, but are unable to absorb new water from the frozen soil,” says Tivon Feeley, DNR forest health program leader. “Because roots in frozen soil have no ability to replace water, winter burn occurs as needles dry out and brown. The tree literally runs out of water.”

Symptoms of winter burn include browning or bleaching of needles and loss of needles, which can eventually lead to death. The symptoms tend to be worse on the windward side of the tree and become more apparent as the days become warmer.

According to Feeley, the DNR is beginning to receive calls about arborvitae, white pine and white fir with moderate to severe damage from winter burn, and he expects the damage will become more apparent in June and July.

If needles on trees are dead but buds are alive, new plant foliage will regrow to replace the winter burned foliage; however, if both the buds and needles are dead, the tree will not recover and will need to be removed.

“There is no way to prevent winter burn,” says Feeley, “however, you can reduce the risks by properly mulching around your conifers and watering in the fall just before the trees goes dormant.”

“Watering is especially important in drought years,” adds Feeley, “and therefore the DNR does not recommend conifers for newly planted windbreaks. Deciduous trees generally have fewer disease and insect problems, and grow quicker, resulting in faster protection.”

For more information about winter burn and other tree-related issues, contact a DNR district forester in your area. For a list of DNR staff by county, visit


2016 is a boat registration year and Iowans will be registering about 235,000 boats before April 30.

Boat registrations are handled by Iowa’s county recorders. Boat owners should bring their current registration to recorder’s office in the county where the individual resides when they renew.

Nonresidents who register their boat in Iowa will go to the county where the boat is primarily used.

Owners who purchased a boat from a private seller and is registering it in their name should bring the signed registration and to make sure the title is signed over to them, if applicable.

Boat registrations are good for three years. The fees go to support water trails, navigation enforcement, aquatic invasive species, boater education and safety, and the registration system.


The Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery’s latest seedling packet, aptly called April Showers Bring May Flowers, is a mix of three water-loving tree species and two flowering species.

“This packet consists of three important tree species known for their ability to slow flooding and filter contaminants from the water,” says State Forester Paul Tauke. “And the other two species have some of the showiest early spring flowers.”

New this month, the State Forest Nursery will select four of the species in the April Showers packet and allow the purchaser to choose the fifth species from three flowering species. Cost for the 250 bare-root seedlings is $110 plus tax, shipping and handling, the same price as a regular 200-seedling packet.

The April Showers packet includes 50 each of the following:

· Sycamore This tree grows incredibly fast, straight and tall, and has attractive white bark in upper branches. The sycamore is native to much of southern Iowa and extends into northern Iowa along some river valleys. One sycamore will intercept 381,010 gallons of rainwater over its lifespan.

· River birch Although most common in eastern Iowa, river birch will grow almost anywhere soils are moist, and often grows in clumps. This tree grows fast and has interesting bark that peels as it ages, exposing reddish brown inner bark. One river birch can intercept 248,000 gallons of water in the course of its lifetime.

· Silver maple The silver maple is one of Iowa’s most widespread and abundant trees, it grows well on all floodplains and can produce valuable lumber. By holding rain on leaves, branches and bark, one silver maple will intercept 440,376 gallons of rainwater over its lifespan. It is also one of the most underrated trees for wildlife, providing seeds for evening grosbeaks, finches, wild turkeys, wood ducks and other game birds along with small mammals such as squirrels and chipmunks.

· Arrowwood Viburnum This shrub is sought after for its spring flowers, beautiful fall color, and berries which are valued by songbirds. It is also a nectar source and larval host for butterflies and other pollinators.

Purchasers may choose from one of the following for the fifth species in the packet:

· Redbud This small tree produces showy lavender-pink spring flowers.

· Serviceberry White flowers in the early spring and edible red and purple June berries.

· Common Lilac Known for its fragrant purple May flowers.

The April Showers packet order form can be found online at or orders can be placed by calling the State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and mention the “April Showers packet.” Using the order form is the fastest and easiest method for ordering the packet, as phone lines can get very busy.

Each month, the State Forest Nursery creates a different specialty packet to offer a unique mix of tree and shrub species for that month only. This month’s specialty packet is only available through April 30, 2016.

Anyone can purchase seedlings from the Iowa State Forest Nursery for CRP projects, to increase wildlife habitat, pollinator potential or diversify backyard woodlands. More than 40 species are available from the nursery. Seedling choices, including photos and descriptions, can be seen in the seedling catalog at

For more information about this monthly special or other tree and shrub seedlings, contact the Iowa DNR State Forest Nursery at 1-800-865-2477.