The Dubuque Veteran's Freedom Center and Dubuque County Conservation have teamed up to help save a dwindling bluebird population.
Veterans have constructed and installed nearly 20 bluebird habitats in Whitewater Canyon Wildlife Area. They'll be responsible for checking on the birds every couple of weeks.
In return, those veterans get access to the wildlife area.
"It's going to be a chance we can get the veterans out in nature, get them out there. This Whitewater Canyon is something, I haven't been there since I was a kid. I remembered it, and so I thought, this has gotta be the place to go," said Jim Wagner, co-founder of the Veteran's Freedom Center.
This partnership allows them to drive back into the wildlife area--something no one else can do.
It'll give them a refuge--somewhere to get away to and relax.
"You know, we've got a lot of PTSD, and TBI here. And just to get them out in nature, and if they don't know do anything but sit and fish and relax, it's a big deal," Wagner said.
Dedra Tentis, a volunteer at the center, and veteran herself, has already seen the effect the park has had on those who have visited.
"Every time we go out, it's kind of a reset. So, any of the stresses or stressors we have, it kind of puts them on hold, and re-images us. I can see it with Jim and his PTSD. He comes back refreshed. I feel that way too," she said.
Wagner and other veterans now have a utility vehicle to drive into the wildlife area. It was donated for six months by Roeder in Dubuque, and the Dubuque Rotary Club is raising money to buy the vehicle for the center.
So far, Wagner says there are multiple nests, including two with a total of nine eggs.
Leslie Hospitality owner Edwin Leslie says he doesn't have anything to hide, and to prove it he invited the public to view all of the documents, emails, agreements, and financial statements related to the deal at a public meeting this morning.