Newest Staff Addition – Watershed Assistant

Newest Staff Addition – Watershed Assistant

Hi, everyone! My name is Abby Brayton and I am the Watershed Assistant for the Watersheds & Waterways Program at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. I am currently in my final year at Iowa State University studying Landscape Architecture with a minor in Urban Studies. I am originally from Iowa City and grew up playing lots of sports, especially outside. Recently, I studied at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and had a chance to experience a culture that values their land more than anything and makes sure to take care of it. In my free time I love to travel with my friends whether it’s a short road trip or flying across the country! I am most looking forward to learning about all of the great volunteering opportunities that are available to everyone, even college students like me! If you have any questions about what I am doing this summer or about watershed videos or social media, please feel free to email me at...
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Protecting a Watershed while Building a Source Water Protection Plan

Protecting a Watershed while Building a Source Water Protection Plan

Nestled up in the northern reaches of the Squaw Creek Watershed, in southwestern Hamilton County, sits a small community with large potential - all because of some great community leaders and members. Beginning in 2017, the City of Stanhope's elected officials made the decision to develop a source water protection plan after elevated levels of nutrients were being discovered in the samples taken from their wells. The group of council members and mayor, along with their city clerk and public works technicians, partnered with Iowa Rural Water Association to begin the process of developing a protection plan for their source water. To give you some background, source water is water that is naturally occurring in a stream, river, or underground (aquifer) and going to be captured, treated, and distributed for drinking water. Stanhope has 2 active well sites that are drawing water from underground aquifers, each reaching over 550 ft deep. These wells have capture zones, which are estimated areas surrounding the...
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Learning from Others in the Watershed

Learning from Others in the Watershed

An essential part of our lives is learning – from textbooks and the internet; and probably most importantly, our elders and peers. This learning starts when we are days old and continues the rest of our lives. In our younger years, we learn the basics of life and subjects that lead to life skills and careers. Further on, we dive further into a certain subject or trade of interest in preparation for our career. After plunging into our careers, we further develop our interests in extra-curricular causes and subjects. For some of us, the extra-curricular causes relate to protecting our natural resources. There are a plethora of natural resources that need protected in this world; for Iowa, the most well-known is our water quality.  In order to improve and protect our water quality, we must first understand what the problem is and how we all can help.   There are resources all around us to gain information on this important topic – advanced...
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SQUAW CREEK WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE: 2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

SQUAW CREEK WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE: 2017 YEAR IN REVIEW

(AMES, IOWA) – In 2017, the Watersheds and Waterways team at Prairie Rivers of Iowa partnered with 23 local and state-wide partners to accomplish a number of events and initiatives. “I am thrilled with Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s success in the Squaw Creek Watershed in 2017. It has been so successful thanks to our wonderful partners and collaborators.” Kayla Bergman, Watershed Coordinator at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. "We look forward to continue working in Squaw Creek Watershed and reporting annually on our progress." Practices funded: Through the Squaw Creek cost-share dollars allotted from the state, Prairie Rivers of Iowa assisted producers with the implementation of conservation practices. Fourteen producers located throughout the four counties in the watershed received funding to plant 1,630 acres of cover crops. Another 1,060 acres of strip-till and no-till were installed for two local producers, and one denitrifying bioreactor was installed on a farm in Boone County. Field days: Prairie Rivers of Iowa hosted four field days in 2017, reaching a total...
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Denitrifying Bioreactor Installed in Squaw Creek Watershed

Denitrifying Bioreactor Installed in Squaw Creek Watershed

On November 10, a denitrifying bioreactor was installed in the Squaw Creek Watershed. This practice is put into place to intercept the field tile line in order to run the water through a pit of woodchips. The woodchips act as a carbon source for denitrifying bacteria, which convert the nitrate in the water to N2 gas. The landowners, two Boone County residents, approached Prairie Rivers of Iowa in 2016 with interest in doing their part to protect water quality in the Squaw Creek Watershed and the larger South Skunk River Watershed. We utilized cost-share through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (designated for our Squaw Creek Watershed project), as well as cost-share through the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office to help offset the financial investment the landowners made. The denitrifying bioreactor was designed by ISG Engineering out of Storm Lake, IA. The consultant on the project was Central Iowa Dirt and Demo out of Kamrar, IA. Both partners provided...
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Hamilton County Farmer Receives 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award

Hamilton County Farmer Receives 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award

Larry Haren, a farmer in Hamilton County, received a 2017 Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award in a ceremony at the Iowa State Fair Wednesday, Aug. 16. The Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award is a joint effort of the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Lt. Governor, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. It recognizes Iowa farmers as local leaders who are taking steps to improve or protect the environment and natural resources in their farming operations. Those recognized have adopted best management practices and incorporated environmental stewardship throughout their farms and work to encourage other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building upon success.   Haren’s farm has been in operation for more than 10 years and covers over 400 acres. He installed a pond to drain his neighbors’ tile, which alone reduced nitrates by 50 percent. He then installed a denitrifying bioreactor to reduce the nitrate levels even further. Other...
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Urban Fringe Project to Begin in Squaw Creek

To expand our long-time efforts in the Squaw Creek Watershed, we are beginning an urban fringe project this fall. This project is funded by a Conservation Collaboration Grant from the Iowa NRCS and will be working specifically in the area just northwest of Ames.   In order to serve those landowners in the Squaw Creek that might have less resources or ability to implement the much-needed conservation practices in a critical area of the watershed, our Watersheds & Waterways team at Prairie Rivers of Iowa sought out the opportunity to expand our current successful implementation in the Squaw Creek Watershed. We will be working directly with landowners of 10-100 acres in the 5-mile urban fringe of Ames in the Squaw Creek Watershed to connect them to resources in order to understand soil health and water quality on a deeper level. We will also utilize our cost-share dollars from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, as well as cost-share programs from...
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River Clean-Ups: A Dirty, Yet Rewarding Activity

River Clean-Ups: A Dirty, Yet Rewarding Activity

The Conservation Corps of Iowa spent a very hot July day this past month wading in the South Skunk River to collect discarded garbage from the river. They worked on the 5-mile section of the South Skunk River from Anderson Access to Soper's Mill Access Point in Story County. This collection is just one of many clean-ups that happen throughout the year. A representative from the team sent in these photos, along with the comment of "The most common object that we collected were cans and bottles, which is disappointing since it is so easy to recycle those in Iowa. " To learn more about Conservation Corps of Iowa, visit: http://www.conservationcorps.org/.   Watershed Educator, Dan, also spent time recently doing a trash cleanup in College Creek (tributary of Squaw Creek) with the Live Green! program at Iowa State University. Crews were split in teams to tackle small stretches of the creek; 31 volunteers together collecting a total of over 1,000 pounds of trash. After the...
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Soil and Water Conservation Week Partnership Spotlight: E Resources Group

Soil and Water Conservation Week Partnership Spotlight: E Resources Group

In honor of Soil and Water Conservation Week, we have interviewed some of our partner organizations for the Watersheds & Waterways Program in order to share more about their organization and our partnership with them. E Resources Group Jean Eells, Director E Resources Group is organized by Jean Eells, working in Educational Program Evaluation, Education and Communications, Project Management and Facilitation, as well as Organizational Research. Jean describes herself as an independent contractor working in education for conservation topics within all types of organizations. “Some projects involve me putting together teams of skilled individuals to accomplish a job together, other times it’s me providing the insights and ideas for another team,” explained Jean. Eells also works with the program, Women Food and Agriculture Network, as well as Prairie Rivers of Iowa, to provide peer-to-peer learning circles for women farmers and landowners. These partnerships have proven a successful model to get conservation a part of the discussion for women involved in agriculture. Reaching women farmland...
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