Upcoming Events: Native Plant Management & Gully Erosion Workshops

Upcoming Events: Native Plant Management & Gully Erosion Workshops

You're Invited to two upcoming workshops we are co-hosting with Story County Conservation! This series is called "Conservation Conversations" and we will be discussing and doing hands-on activities to learn about various conservation topics. This first workshop is on Tuesday, September 25th from 5-7PM and there is no cost to attend. This workshop will be focused on native lands management. The second workshop is on Saturday, October 13 from 9AM - 4PM and costs $15 for the day. This workshop will focus on gully erosion and practices to fight erosion. Please call 515.232.0048 to RSVP to either or both of these events! ...
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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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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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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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Women Caring for the Land Workshop Held in Stanhope

Women Caring for the Land Workshop Held in Stanhope

A group of women from in and around the Squaw Creek Watershed came together to participate in the “Women Caring for the Land” workshop held April 13, 2017 in Stanhope. This workshop, co-sponsored by Prairie Rivers of Iowa and the Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, offered participants the chance to discuss individual farm management practices with local conservationists in a relaxed, peer-to-peer format that fosters learning through hands-on demonstrations. “In order to spread awareness and increase implementation of conservation practices in the watershed, we have utilized tools like the Women Caring for the Land model to target specific groups of landowners in the watershed,” said Kayla Hasper, Watershed Coordinator at Prairie Rivers of Iowa. The morning was spent at the Stanhope Community Center learning about assessing and improving soil health. Jean Eells, owner of E Resources Group, provided a demonstration of a slake test, which measures the stability of soil when it is exposed to a sudden onslaught of water. Another demonstration showed...
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Greenbelt in the Iowa State University Research Park: A Win for Water Quality

Last evening, Story County Conservation hosted an open house at the Core Facility in the ISU Research Park to share the plans for the greenbelt located in the Research Park that will be eventually linked to a corridor that connects to the High Trestle Trail and Heart of Iowa Trail. This area will be called the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor. This project is a partnership that will serve Story County and Iowa in ways never before serviced by bringing county, city, university, and state agencies together to showcase how commercial development and natural resource conservation can by symbiotic. The engineering and design team for this project consists of representatives from Shive-Hattery, Wallace Roberts Todd, Great Ecology, Earthview Environmental, and E-Resources Group. Each of these representatives spoke on their component of the project, which included current state of the site, stream assessments, design and layout of future project, and incorporation of interpretive materials for all ages and backgrounds. The site will include many entry-ways,...
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Inspiration from Conservation Leaders

"Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." - Angela Duckworth, Grit I was reminded of the above quote yesterday when I attended the Iowa Farm Environmental Leadership award ceremony at the Iowa State Fair. This is an award organized by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship  that recognizes those who go above and beyond on their farms to address soil health and water quality. These are individuals who are not only enthusiastic about conservation, but also work to incorporate it into their farms. In Iowa, we are not short of enthusiasm for efforts to protect and build soil health as well as protect our public waterways. What is more rare are those who are standout individuals who take extraordinary measures to protect the land. This is seen among those who have won the IFEL award. They are not farming for the present, but farming for the vitality of their ecological and social communities for the future. Previous research shows that farmers are motivated by...
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One Stop Cover Crop Service Now Available

One Stop Cover Crop Service Now Available

We take the hassle out of building your soil health Prairie Rivers of Iowa, in partnership with the Boone and Story County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, is taking the hassle out of fall cover crop application. You tell us what you want for your fields, and we’ll book the service and buy the seed. You’ll receive only one bill in the end, and hopefully, some peace of mind. We are providing both pre-harvest and post-harvest application options primarily with cereal rye and oats. Farmers will have the option of an airplane, highboy applicator, or drill for application. Other mixes can be made and applied upon request.  By providing numerous options, we intend to provide a service that fits the farmer and the goals they would like to achieve within their farm operation. “As a farmer, I know that adding something new to the farm operation can be challenging,” says Jeremy Gustafson, Chairman for the Boone County SWCD. “It is our goal to...
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Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

This spring, planting season took off in the State of Iowa as the temperatures warmed up in the soils. We are seeing a multitude of conservation practices at work in the Squaw Creek watershed with each farmer implementing what works best on their land. Strip Tillage One farmer hard at work out in the field is Jeremy Gustafson, a diversified farmer who grows corn and soybeans along with raising hogs in the Squaw Creek Watershed. Gustafson, a Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner for Boone County, implements strip-tillage as a conservation practice to protect his soil from erosion.  Gustafson comes from a multi-generational family farm and has been managing his farm with conservation in mind for over ten years. Strip tillage is a conservation tillage system in which only strips of soil are worked before planting. This allows for the soil to warm up and dry out for planting. Seeds are then planted directly into the strips. This practice improves the soil health and water quality...
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Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Midwest Row Crop Agriculture

Climate Change Impacts on U.S. Midwest Row Crop Agriculture

I have done quite a bit of research on climate change and its impacts on Iowa agriculture in the past couple of weeks. This post is to summarize what I have learned, discovered, and still have questions about. The information sources I used were unanimous in a few things, including the fact that our climate naturally changes over time, humans (urban and rural) are speeding up the climate change process, and the effects that climate change will have on our beloved Earth are detrimental. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “it is unequivocal that the climate is changing, and it is very likely that this is prominently caused by increased human interferences with the atmosphere. These changes will transform the environmental conditions on Earth unless counter-measures are taken. Our present energy course is not sustainable.” Scientists have identified the culprit as emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (N2O), methane (CH4), and other “greenhouse gases” that build up in the atmosphere,...
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