Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Waukee, Iowa, USA


Waukee, Iowa, USA
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Registered: November 2021
City/Town/Province: Waukee
Posts: 1
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The Decision
My name is Jake . I am a Senior at Waukee Northwest High School. Next fall I will be studying Biology and Environmental Science at Central College.

Growing up, nature has become an important aspect of who I am. Camping, hiking, gardening, fishing and hunting all play a role while teaching me how actions and choices impact the environment around me. My family is active in environmental efforts through various club memberships and volunteering. Over the years we have worked to provide a pollinator and bird friendly habitat on our residential property. Native plantings in our landscapes and avoiding pesticides have been critical in helping to grow backyard habitat where numerous bird species live and raise their young.

This past spring while researching for a class in Environmental Ecology I was made aware of the Nicodemus Wilderness Project. I realized with my background in fishing and knowledge of local ponds I could complete a project that could be two-fold in contributing not only to my community but also as an environmental stewardship project.

I set out to figure out how I could personally help to improve local public fishing opportunities in the Waukee area. While fishing Kettlestone ponds I observed how birds, turtles, frogs, and mammals visit the pond as well as people. I realized an ecological project for the pond could help quality of life.

Our city is one of the fastest growing urban areas in Iowa. Urban development has had a negative impact with wildlife areas being disturbed or removed. There are several locations where migratory birds can no longer rest because housing has replaced habitat. Watershed areas continue to be developed, removing places for wildlife to live and raise their young.

Understanding my efforts may be small in counteracting urban development, I had to at least try.

The Build Out
After researching online and brainstorming with friends and family who also fish, I chose to build several environmentally friendly structures to submerge into Kettlestone Ponds. Prior to this project there were no man-made structures in these ponds. The frequency in which these ponds are fished has drastically increased over the past 2 years. Because these ponds are so popular it is critical to enhance aquatic habitat. I knew my project could provide an opportunity for the growth of algae below water that would provide food and shelter to fish and other aquatic life. More fish means additional food sources for specific bird and aquatic species. More fish also means more fishing opportunities for those like myself. Everyone wins!

Over the course of several weeks and with the help of family and friends, eight fishing structures were built. Using pvc pipe and lashings “trees” were made for algae to grow on. Holes were drilled into a main pipe allowing for smaller piping to be inserted and cable ties were used to secure the piping to each other. Once built, the pvc tree was placed into a bucket or cinder block filled with concrete to anchor the systems once in the water. After structures were transported to the pond area, boats were used in navigating them to their drop locations. GPS locations of the submerged structures were documented and sent to the Department of Natural Resources.

This project not only made an environmental impact, it made a personal one too with the new skills and experiences I now have.

During the project it was necessary for me to stay in communication with both Waukee Parks and Rec department and also Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources. Communicating with business professionals was new to me and is a skill set I now have because of this project.

Building the structures had its aggravations. Learning how to use tools like a hole saw, was something I had never known existed, let alone done before. After a couple of failed attempts I got the hang of it and was able to drill the necessary hole. Determining how to secure the pvc “tree branches'' was a head-scratcher. After trying several options I realized using lashings would be the easiest. Troubleshooting how to get the structures from our kayak into the water due to their weight required the involvement of several adults. There were definitely moments when I wondered if this project would ever be completed! While frustrating at times, these challenges provided me with the opportunity to think on my feet, plan strategically, remain flexible and open minded. Thankfully, my parents and friends were willing to pitch in and help how they could.

The Future
Over the years I plan to monitor the success of my project by using fish tracking software and cameras during the ice fishing seasons. Doing so will allow me an opportunity to see the structures, and how habitat is developing around them.

While aspects of my project were challenging, it was also fulfilling. Seeing my project through to the end, the amount of work it required, and knowing how it will improve the quality of fishing at Kettlestone was extremely satisfying. I have a sense of pride knowing I am the first in making this type of contribution in my community. With the experience I gained I can now be a resource to others who are looking to do the same for their local ponds. Overall I hope to be an example of how individuals can enhance or protect our local wildlife.

I suspect as life gets busy with college the next 4 years it will be difficult to get outside as much as in the past but I will take a sense of pride in what was accomplished and hope this will be a stepping stone to other outdoor career opportunities and propel me up to be a lifelong ambassador for the outdoors.
· Date: November 7, 2021 · Views: 765 · File size: 11.6kb, 2738.6kb · : 4032 x 3024 ·
Hours Volunteered: 94
Volunteers: 10
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 &14 to 53
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