The DAI or Driftless Area Initiative has set up a multi-state partnership with Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin to restore the regions cultural, economy and ecology. Individuals and organizations are uniting in this effort in the Driftless Area of the upper Mississippi River Basin.
In 2002, forty-eight federal, state, and county Driftless Area organizations elected six councils to develop and coordinate the intiative committee. The Developmental areas are: the Blackhawk Hills in Illinois, Southwest Badger in Wisconsin, River Country in Wisconsin, Hiawatha Valley in Minnesota, and the limestone bluffs in Northwest Iowa.
David Wilson was hired in 2005 as its first coordinator and the DAI functioned as an extension of the six founding councils. The DAI has become strong, with partnerships developed and funding obtained. John V. Walsh was hired as the first director of the intiative in 2010, and, in the same year the organization did a revision of its bylaws, became incorporated in Wisconsin, and hosted the Midwest Biomass Conference in Dubuque. It has changed the makeup of its board to include some non-RC&D members. Four committees were established at the meeting of partners in July 2010 to work on multiple states.
A meeting was held in Prairie du Chien Wisconsin on July, 12, 2011 at the Huckleberry Event Center, in which Jon Stravers reported on the Cerulean Warbler, a neo-tropical migratory bird, which the U.S. Fish and Game found to be of concern. This bird was once one of the most plentiful breeding warblers in the area, but its population has gone down in the 1900's. They will be looking into at the warbler's location and numbers before going ahead with conservation plans.
The Iowa Association of Agricultural Educators received 175 copies of a DVD,"The Driftless Area Initiative: Distinctive, Diverse, Driftless". With this important film, they hope to inspire their students to become more involved in these issues.
The different committees currently, are:
- Tourism and Economic Development
- Sustainable Agriculture and Local Foods
Endangered species defined within this alliance are:
- Leedy's Rose Root
- Northern Monkshood
- Eastern and Western Prairie Fringed Orchid
- Prairie Bush Clover
- Minnesota Dward Trout Lily
- Iowa Pleistocene Snail
- Sheepnose, Spectaclecase
- Higgins Eye Pearlymussel
- Eastern Massasauga Reptile
- Bald Eagle
- Kirksland Warbler
- Whooping Crane.