South Central Iowa is going to the birds; in Wappalo county land has been set aside for a bird sanctuary that will soon be open to the public. Stephens State Forest Unionville Unit, Lake Wapello State Park, Soap Creek and Eldon Wildlife Areas, and a portion of the Soap Creek watershed are to be dedicated as a new bird sanctuary area, or BCA – a ceremony to open the new BCA to the public will take place 1:30pm on Thursday, February 8th at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Center. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) believes the BCA will have a positive impact on tourism and local activities. Bird watching is a big industry, generating over $300 million in revenue annually. The DNR said attracting bird watchers will help with local bird conservation investments while boosting tourism and the local economy at the same time.
There’s a new way for people to experience different flavors of food and drink in Marion and Mahaska County: The A to Z Foodie Trail. The A to Z Foodie Trail provides a guide for good eats and drinks in south central Iowa. Businesses included on the food trail are located in Pella, Knoxville, Pleasantville, Leighton, Oskaloosa and Melcher-Dallas; the A to Z Foodie Trail features items that are locally made, and includes an item for every letter in the alphabet. For example – Northcote’s Bigfoot tenderloin in Melcher-Dallas represents the letter N. To help someone find these tasty treats and beverages, a wallet-sized, fold-up brochure can be found at select businesses on the map. The brochure also features a map and the address of each business on the trail.