Marquette hopes to be designated a 'Bird Friendly City'

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

Marquette hopes to be designated an Iowa “Bird Friendly City.” At its Sept. 14 regular meeting, the city council approved submitting an application to Bird Friendly Iowa, a statewide bird habitat conservation and educational outreach program created by a partnership of Iowa conservation organizations.

 

“It’s a new thing to Iowa,” said Alicia Mullarkey, director of Marquette’s Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. She will work on the application along with resident Dennis Mason, who, with other volunteers, has created a haven for purple martin birds on the city’s riverfront.

 

“It’s kind of like being a Tree City,” Mullarkey added, in that Marquette must meet certain criteria in order to receive the designation.

 

According to Bird Friendly Iowa, that includes a commitment to protect, restore and enhance bird habitat; reduce threats to birds; and educate and engage people in birding and conservation. Each year, the community must reapply and demonstrate that it continues to meet the minimal criteria.

 

“With the Wetlands Centre and having a lot of natural areas around us and being on the Mississippi Flyway, we’re already doing a lot of the things required in this application,” Mullarkey said.

 

There is a $100 fee for the application, an amount mayor Steve Weipert said is worth it.

 

“I think it’s a good thing. $100 isn’t a whole lot when you consider the amount of time Denny has put into the riverfront,” he shared.

 

City moving forward with comprehensive plan update

At last week’s meeting, the council also approved a proposal from Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission to update the city’s comprehensive plan. This would mark the first update since 2006, according to city clerk Bonnie Basemann.

 

“We have not updated this in a long time. Especially if we continue to look forward to senior housing, this will be great for steering us in the right direction and maybe helping us get some grants,” Weipert said.

 

Basemann said the planning process will include two public think tank meetings on design goals, strategies and actions that will help the community. 

 

“They’ll also do some focus group meetings and probably a survey. Once they have a draft, the public will have an opportunity to review it,” she continued.

 

Upper Explorerland is putting in matching funds for the CARES Act—a 25 percent match or about $2,500—which Basemann said will reduce the total cost to $7,732.

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