The Falcon Springs Wildlife Management Area on Pole Line Road west of Decorah already has 263 acres of fields, forests and virgin prairie habitats that provide high quality ruffed grouse habitat. Soon it will expand by another 120 acres, thanks to a donation by the Stegen family of rural Decorah.
Iowa DNR wildlife biologist Terry Haindfield and district forester Greg Heidebrink have been working to improve the forest habitat for grouse by following the area's forest wildlife stewardship plan to create different layers of trees along the forest edge by cutting specific areas every five years, with each area being cut once every 15 years. The trees with the high stem counts are primarily aspens that, when cut, send up shoots that create the habitat preferred by grouse, usually within two cutting rotations. The mature forest is managed to promote oaks, walnuts and hickories to benefit deer, turkeys, squirrels and other wildlife. "Even though grouse is the focus species, we are doing management for all species that are present," Haindfield said.
"The Stegens have done a lot of the same rotational cutting in places and have much of the land in the conservation reserve program. It was their intention that the land continues to be managed in this way and once that responsibility is transferred to the DNR, we will honor those wishes," Haindfield said.