Mark and Terry Brockway
Greater Blue Heron Wildlife Refuge
Burlington, Iowa

In January 2000, Terry and Mark Brockway purchased 1,600 acres of flood plain located at the confluence of the Skunk and Mississippi Rivers, in one of the largest and most important pools in the entire Mississippi river system. The property, which consists of back water riparian sloughs, lakes, ponds, and bottom land timber, had been silted in and logged in preparation for a quarry operation. The brothers’ goal was to restore the property to the way it was 60 years ago.

The restoration plan required a well balanced effort by the Davis County Conservation Board, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and private natural resource management professionals. The Brockways enrolled and certified 1,295 acres in the Forest Reserve program. Implementing their restoration plan required many extra hours away from their well established contracting and construction firm, Brockway Mechanical and Roofing.

Management of an area that typically floods annually requires special techniques and patience. The brothers mapped the forest resources for management units for a prescribed burn management plan. In addition, they constructed a 100-acre moist soil unit with 4 structures, planted 11,000 plugs of Prairie Cord Grass and other wetland forbs, deleveled 200 acres with shallow water excavation, seeded 80 acres of wetland prairie, planted 4,000 mast-producing RPM trees, and constructed and installed 250 wood duck boxes. Some of these projects were cost shared, but most of them were funded by the Brockways.

The Greater Blue Heron Wildlife Refuge is used as a model restoration site. The Brockways pride themselves in showcasing their project to others who are interested in restoring their properties. As a result, the surrounding area is rapidly being enhanced due to their example. Terry particularly enjoys enlightening school groups and children to the wonders of nature. Eventually the brothers hope to turn the property over to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to operate in perpetuity as part of the Mark Twain National Wildlife Refuge.