The Driftless Area has become the epicenter for a return, a return that has been in the making for nearly 50 years. The return has featured one of the nation's greatest symbols. A symbol that stands for freedom, pride, and nature’s magnificent beauty. The bald eagle that once nearly extirpated from the skies has found a home all throughout Iowa, but there has been no return greater than the return to the skies of the Driftless Area.
Northeast Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin, Southeast Minnesota, and Northeast Illinois make up the four-state region referred to as the Driftless Area. With the Mississippi River and its braided backwaters creating an artery that is fueled by tributaries like the Upper Iowa, the Yellow, the Kickapoo and the Wisconsin Rivers, the landscape has been crucial in the resurgence of the symbol of the United States. That resurgence has seen the creation of nesting territories in all 99 of Iowa’s Counties with the most being in Allamakee, with 144 active nests and Clayton, where 71 active eagle nests are reported, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program.
Iowa’s own award-winning photographer Ty Smedes will be presenting “The Return of the Bald Eagle” at the Driftless Education and Visitors Center in Lansing on February 22 at 6:30 p.m. Ty has been photographing Iowa’s wildlife since 1980 and has been published in many calendars, books, and magazines throughout Iowa and the United States. Ty will tell the story of the bald eagle through photographs taken with his own lense in the Driftless Area and beyond as the birds grew in numbers. He will offer for sale photographs and books from his collections showcasing the work and wildlife that he has loved for more than 35 years. For more information on this program, you can contact the Driftless Area Education and Visitors Center at (563) 538-0403.
Photo: Bald Eagles on the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge near New Albin taken by Ross Geerdes