OTTUMWA — This year has been declared “Year of the Bird” just in time for the Soap-Creek Stephens Bird Conservation Area’s dedication.

After months of meetings and strategizing, the Department of Natural Resources is ready for the conservation area’s dedication. The area will be a home to more than 300 species of bird.

The ceremony is 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Pioneer Ridge Nature Center.

“The dedication will not be as informative as the public meeting, in regard to bird conservation management,” said Bruce Ehresman, wildlife diversity bird biologist. “Instead, it is more of a celebration, and representatives of each of the six partner groups will speak for a few minutes about their individual conservation role in this BCA and what their organization or agency is about.”

There will multiple speakers on behalf of landowners within the BCA, background of the BCA program and what it is accomplishing. After an hour, there will be a bird hike led by Ehresman, who is also unveiling the BCA signage.

The dedication will coincidently fall on the centennial for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, which provides birds with year-round protection.

Ehresman said the centennial is the reason that 2018 is hailed as the “Year of the Bird” by a partnership of National Audubon Society, National Geographic Society, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and BirdLife International (U.K.).

Ehresman said he only has hopes for around 25 people but can be contacted at 515-432-2823 for those wanting to attend.

Aaryn Frazier can be reached at afrazier@ottumwacourier.com or on Twitter at CourierAaryn.

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