Spring flowers by College Creek

We're all a bit stir-crazy and can benefit from spring weather and spring flowers.  If you're in Ames, I recommend walking east of the ISU campus, where (as of April 5) the ground is carpeted with blue flowered squills, Scilla siberica.  It's not often that you see that color blue in nature, or in that quantity! While you're there, take a peek in College Creek.  When I visited, the water was clear, the bottom was rocky, and it was full of 4-6 inch fish. This was great to see.  College Creek used to be a dump, but between legal action against businesses and mobile home parks that were discharging sewage, urban conservation projects, and the annual trash clean-up event, it's become a lovely place.  Most of our backyard streams have the same potential, if we treat them right. I should caution you that that E. coli levels in College Creek and other streams in Ames often exceed the primary contact recreation standard, but you're...
Read More
Watershed Matchup #3: College Creek VS Bluestem Creek

Watershed Matchup #3: College Creek VS Bluestem Creek

This post is part of a series for 2019 Watershed Awareness Month, comparing water quality in a pair of local creeks to learn how land and people influence water. With such a big watershed—147,000 acres—we’ll need the help of a lot of people to improve water quality in Squaw Creek.  However, some of the people I talk to assume that water quality is mostly someone else’s problem—it’s the CAFOs fault, or the golf courses, or the residential lawns. By comparing smaller streams, volunteer monitoring can help us untangle some of the influences and serve as a reality check on the finger pointing.  Thanks to the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition we have some data on a lot of Squaw Creek’s tributaries, some with urban watersheds (College Creek) and some with rural watersheds, some with hog barns (Prairie Creek) and some without (Bluestem Creek).  Some streams were even sampled monthly for a few years—not always the same years, but I’ve included some monthly averages...
Read More
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...
Read More