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University of Iowa News Release

 

May 14, 2007

Bat Houses Expand Stanley Consultants' Wildlife Habitat At Oakdale Park

Two bat houses, including one constructed by a local, second-grade Cub Scout Troop, will be erected in a wildlife habitat established by Stanley Consultants at the University of Iowa's Oakdale Research Park in Coralville.

This "house raising" kicks off the second phase of this environmental project between the UI and Stanley Consultants Inc., a global engineering, environmental and construction services company that has offices at 2658 Crosspark Road in the park. At 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17 Cub Scouts in a Wolf Den from Pack 207 in Coralville will watch while Mark Fettkether, manager of landscape services for UI Facilities Management, installs the two bat houses.

"We're hoping that bats will find the houses and settle in within a year. The bats will act as natural bug zappers for our wildlife habitat," said Megan Black, an environmental scientist at Stanley Consultants. "They will be very useful in reducing the insect population in the wildlife habitat, especially around the two-acre pond."

According to Black, the bat houses will be erected about 12 feet off the ground in a location that receives at least six hours of sun exposure a day. In addition, the houses will be painted brown to help absorb sunlight and keep the houses warm. The bat houses resemble birdhouses but are long and narrow with an open bottom that discourages birds and squirrels from nesting.

Last year Stanley Consultants created the wildlife area around a two-acre pond near the office, complete with native shrubs and trees. "We want to make this habitat useful for the people who work in the park, making it a great place to walk and enjoy the area," Black added.

UI retiree Duane Miller recently installed several bluebird houses in the habitat. Black says Stanley Consultants also plans to plant native prairie plantings in the swale areas that channels storm water runoff into the pond.

UI facilities officials approved the wildlife habitat enhancement project and gave advice on the plantings. "We're happy to be involved in this project that enhances the natural environment of the park and makes it great place to work," said Thomas R. Sharpe, associate vice president for Economic Development at the UI and executive director of the Oakdale Research Park.

The second phase of the project will include adding some shrubs and grasses, reconfiguring some of the planting beds, and maintaining the plantings. Similar projects could be built on other sections of the park.

Stanley Consultants and the UI have applied for a Certificate of Achievement to be presented by the National Wildlife Federation. If approved, plaques recognizing their efforts will be awarded and displayed near the newly planted areas.

To be certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, a site must provide for wildlife food, water, cover and places to raise young. Property owners must also employ sustainable gardening practices that conserve the natural resources of the area.

University of Iowa facilities officials have approved the wildlife habitat enhancement project.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Program: Tom Bauer, Oakdale Research Park, 319-335-4067; Mary Jo Finchum, Stanley Consultants, 563-264-6485, finchummaryjo@stanleygroup.com; Media: George McCrory, 319-384-0012, george-mccrory@uiowa.edu.