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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Gaining Momentum

Gaining Momentum

What drives a project forward? Is it the idea to create a project? Is it the motivation behind the project itself? Is it one person who acts as a project champion? Is it a group of people led by a dynamic individual? ...or something else? The driving force behind a project can vary depending on many factors. The goal of the Outdoor Learning Environments program at Prairie Rivers of Iowa is to bring those factors together and to support communities in developing an appreciation for the outdoors and community by creating or enhancing an outdoor learning space together. Expectations were unknown in originally creating and launching the Pilot Outdoor Learning Environment Grant Program in partnership with the Living Roadway Trust Fund. The first applicant inquiry came from Kate Zimmerman who is the Executive Director (and only full-time employee) of Ringgold County Conservation. She is also the only applicant to make it to the implementation phase in the first year of the grant...
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Upcoming Listening Session for Keigley Watershed

Upcoming Listening Session for Keigley Watershed

Listening Session for Keigley Branch-South Skunk River Watershed Management Plan Monday, October 23, 6-7PM Franklin Community Room, Gilbert City Hall Monday night will be our first of several opportunities to get some public input for our next watershed management plan, for an area that includes Keigley Branch, Bear Creek, and the Skunk River greenbelt.  With the harvest under way, you might question my timing—and to be sure, we will be scheduling listening sessions during the winter to reach farmers—but it happened to be an open night on the Gilbert High School calendar and I’m excited to have some Gilbert High students joining us. Mrs. Rinehart’s 10th grade biology students have been getting their feet wet in College Creek and Keigley Branch, collecting water bugs—sorry, sampling benthic macroinvertebrates.  I’ve met with them three times to help them make the connection between land management in the watershed, water quality in the stream, and the biodiversity in the stream.  Now they’re working on a project to research a...
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Outdoor Learning Environments: Workshop Opportunities!

Outdoor Learning Environments: Workshop Opportunities!

Here are a few opportunities available to meet and learn about Outdoor Learning Environments November 18, 2017 10AM-12PM at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge 9981 Pacific St, Prairie City, IA 50228 Come and learn about Outdoor Learning Environments and how to get projects started in your community. There will also be a presentation from Patrick Bryant, People for Pollinators Coordinator at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge about prairie seed identification and cleaning. This workshop is kicking off a "DIY Prairie Garden Series" at the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge that will take place on the second Saturday each month through July 2018. Make sure to come dressed prepared for the weather and being outdoors! Register for this event by emailing Annie Fangman at afangman@prrcd.org. Other Questions? Contact Patrick Bryant at patrick_bryant@fws.gov or 515-994-3402   November 30, 2017 1-3PM at the Dragoon Trace Nature Center Poe Hollow Park 2434 State Hwy 2 Mount Ayr, Iowa 50854 Join us at this workshop to experience the brand new Dragoon Trace Nature Center...
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Prairie Rivers of Iowa has moved!

We are excited to announce that Prairie Rivers of Iowa has moved to a new office! We officially moved to our new location in West Ames at the beginning of September and have since kept busy unpacking, settling into this new space, and continuing our work. Our new office is located at 2335 230th Street, which is the past residence of Kinzler Construction. It was getting a little cramped in our old office and one thing this new building offers us is plenty of space. Each program has its own area to work with plenty of room to spread out and expand, when the programs grow. Storage space on the second floor alleviates some of the workspace clutter, and between a designated conference room and a kitchenette with a breakroom, there are spaces large enough to accommodate everyone when we have large meetings. We are sharing this space with the team at EOR Iowa. Prairie Rivers of Iowa and EOR have collaborated...
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Inspiration from Master River Stewards

Inspiration from Master River Stewards

Prairie Rivers of Iowa in partnership with Story County Conservation had the opportunity to host a wonderful group of river stewards through an 8-week course focusing on the whole river ecosystem. Session 1: Introduction/Watersheds The first week we began by getting to know each other and hearing from each group member on what inspired them to join the class and how they like to interact with rivers. We heard a lot of stories of frequent paddlers, wading, and general river exploration from youth to current times. We quickly realized we had a very professionally diverse group that all had a similarity of being passionate about river life and water quality. Our first speaker was one of the program founders, Jim Pease.  He gave an inspiring introduction to the course. This was followed by Prairie Rivers of Iowa's Watershed Educator, Dan Haug. Dan presented on the basics of watershed concepts and led an activity on how to delineate a watershed. Upon completion of the activity we went...
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Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway News

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway has been selected to continue on to the second round of the ArtPlace America Grant! Out of 1,000 applications, 70 were selected for a site visit and asked to submit a final application. Our Byway was one of those selected. Quite an honor! The Byway's proposed project is to work with Preston's Historic District in Belle Plaine, Reed-Niland Corner in Colo, and Youngville in rural Benton County to restore their old gas stations; add art, interpretive signs, and oral histories; and re-purpose the stations by adding electric charging stations. Many partners have gathered to bring this project together and we can not wait to know if we receive these funds. We will continue fundraising efforts to add to the overall project that will be jump-started with the ArtPlace America grant. We also have a new Recreational and Camping Brochure available. It has been placed in some Iowa Welcome Centers and a few key Lincoln Highway locations,...
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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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