The Driftless Area Wetlands Centre is located in Marquette, Iowa, along the Mississippi River and in the southwest corner of the Driftless Area Zone, a location where the last glacial advance did not touch this area of the state. The melting glaciers carved the valley, filled the floodplains, and left the steep cliffs, deep valleys, and rich riverine wetlands. The incredibly rich bottomlands adjacent to the river valley fed the passage of migrating wildlife, such as hawks and eagles, egrets and cranes, ducks and geese, herons and terns, warblers and orioles.
The area is rich in human history as well, as many Native Americans, explorers, fur trappers, soldiers, settlers, railroad employees, farmers, and road and bridge builders called this area home. Endemic species, such as the Iowa Pleistocene Snail (an endangered species and important climate change indicator) and Northern Monkshood (a threatened species under the Federal Endangered Species Act), live here. Threats to the unique ecology and geology of this area include: habitat fragmentation, increasing urbanization, grazing cattle, industrial agriculture practices, and most recently, frack sand mining.