Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Springs into 2018

It is finally March and with that comes the promise of Spring! The Byway is gearing up for a wonderful 2018. We are into grant writing season and as we wait for large state-wide projects to come to fruition, we are happy to tackle  smaller localized ones. One project just completed was for the community of Westside. The residents recently developed a park, the Eugene Kock Memorial Park, in honor of a local man who lost his life in Vietnam many years ago. The park has engraved paver bricks that can be purchased, seating for visitors, and a military sculpture placed in the center. The area is flanked by flags and soon will have an interpretive panel we created about the community placed there as well. We continue to work with the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) on other interpretive panels. Three smaller ones will be placed in the City of Jefferson's east entrance as part of their improvement project. The panels will...
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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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Upgrade your sewage treatment plant, get a free bioswale!

Upgrade your sewage treatment plant, get a free bioswale!

Does the State Revolving Fund (SRF) do infomercials for its Clean Water Loans?  I think they should because SRF Sponsored Projects are a classic case of "buy-one-get-one-free." We usually focus on conservation efforts by farmers but today let’s give some credit to the municipal wastewater departments—they do a lot to keep our rivers clean.  As a nation, we’ve generally been more successful in regulating and treating the pollutants coming out from sewage treatment plants and factories than we have been in dealing with the pollutants that wash off of farm fields, turf grass and parking lots.  We’ve now reached a point where the water coming out of the local sewage treatment plant is cleaner in some respects than the water in the backyard creek.  I’m not kidding: Ames Water and Pollution Control can’t exceed 126 E. coli colonies per 100mL in their treated effluent—E. coli levels in Squaw Creek for 2016 were eight times higher. Repairing an aging sewer system or installing...
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The good, the bad, and the ugly of the South Skunk River

How do we reconcile good recreation with poor water quality?  How can we work together to improve water quality in the South Skunk River?  These are some questions I hope you will discuss with me at McFarland Park this Friday (Feb 9) at 5:30PM The good: paddling!  The portion of the South Skunk River that flows through Story County* will be dedicated as a water trail this year.  Story County is lucky to have a river with so many acres of protected natural areas and with such well-marked public access points.  A lot of work over the years by a lot of dedicated conservationists has made that possible. The bad: water quality!  This stretch of the South Skunk is on the impaired waters list due to high levels of E.coli bacteria, an indicator for fecal contamination. The ugly: rivers in the rest of the state aren’t any better. There are over 400 river/stream segments on the Iowa Impaired Waters List due to E...
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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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Public input is essential for a watershed plan

Prairie Rivers of Iowa held three listening sessions this fall in Gilbert, on the Iowa State University campus, and in Story City.  Their purpose was to get ideas for the watershed management plan that we will be developing for Keigley Branch- South Skunk River Watershed, an area that includes the Skunk River Greenbelt and land that drains to Keigley Branch, Long Dick Creek, and Bear Creek in Story and Hamilton counties.  The 50 people that attended these sessions brainstormed responses to two questions. What goals or issues would you like to see addressed by the watershed management plan? What opportunities or strategies would make the plan successful? Their responses can be found here.  Some of the issues and strategies discussed were included in the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Plan and can easily be adapted for the Keigley-South Skunk Watershed.  Prairie Rivers and its partners have some experience with public education, watershed mapping, agricultural practices to control nutrients, and urban practices to control runoff, and...
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Creek Signs in Story County

Creek Signs in Story County

What creek is that?  If you’re driving in Story County, you may not be able to tell.  With the exception of the Skunk River, the waterways are not marked with road signs, and your highway map or GPS unit probably aren’t much help either.  However, that’s about to change!  Story County Conservation and Prairie Rivers of Iowa will be working with the county engineer and the state Department of Transportation to put up signs labeling the creeks at bridges on county, state, and federal highways. Within the City of Ames, most bridges already have a sign labeled "Squaw Creek Watershed: for clean rivers and streams."  The city Public Works Department has been proactive about education and stormwater through its "Smart Watersheds" program.  If you live in Story City, Nevada, Maxwell, Slater, Roland, Cambridge, or Zearing and would like to see a creek sign in town, please contact dhaug@prrcd.org. Similar projects have been done in other parts of Iowa.  Watershed coordinators have found...
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Thanksgiving Season On the Byway

Thanksgiving Season On the Byway

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, I am reflecting on the past 3 years I've worked at Prairie Rivers and with the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway (LHHB.) I am thankful for the Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) and their vision to create and promote the road in 1913 and for the Iowa leaders who re-created theorganization in 1992,  to those Iowa LHA people who applied for the Iowa section to be part of the Iowa Scenic Byway program, to the Department of Transportation for including the Lincoln Highway in their Byway program and the support they continue to give to the Byways, and to the people in the communities along the route who work tirelessly to promote and support their neck-of-the-woods with their products, services, amenities, and attractions. A few weeks ago, I drove a part of the Byway and saw farmers out harvesting their crops. Dust was flying, wagons were being filled with crops, and slow-moving vehicles with equipment and wagons slowed...
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