The Owego Wetland Complex is named for the abandoned town of Owego, which exists only on old maps. Since the first acquisition in 1998, the Owego complex has grown to 1,330 acres—with outstanding wildlife habitat and public recreation.
This wetland complex is relatively new, beginning in 1998. In just six years the Woodbury County Conservation Board and numerous partnering agencies worked with several neighbors to help them enroll 1,330 acres floodplain cropland in the federal Wetland Reserve Program then sell the land for public enjoyment.
Partners that helped to help make the project a showcase wetland for western Iowa: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Kind World Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, Woodbury County Pheasants Forever, North American Wetland Conservation Act (USFWS), Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Habitat Stamp, Loess Hills Audubon Society, and Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA).
In the short time it’s existed, Owego has already become a tremendous attraction for wildlife, especially migratory waterfowl. By recreating wetlands that mimic how this land might have looked 100-200 years ago, we’re drawing back more and more birds to this historic flyway.
Over 200 bird species have been recorded during their seasonal migrations at this site to date, including Short-eared Owls, Trumpeter Swans, Blackpoll Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Wilson’s Phalaropes, American Bitterns, Red Phalaropes, Swainson’s Hawks and Western Kingbirds. This wildlife area is great for upland game and waterfowl hunting and wildlife viewing.
Ducks Unlimited has dedicated the Owego area as a Greenwing Legacy Marsh and has installed two monument cairns at the east parking lot on 290th Street in recognition of this designation.