Letter from our Board President – 2013 Annual Report

Following in the footsteps of a truly great person is a daunting task. As I assumed the leadership of Prairie Rivers of Iowa from Erv Klaas I knew I had my work cut out for me. Under Erv’s leadership, Prairie Rivers of Iowa had gone from the “survival stage” to the “self-actualization stage.” But, I felt that with the leadership of Penny Brown Huber, the oversight of a true penny pincher, Carman Rosburg, and the talent and dedication of a truly remarkable staff, I could hardly fail. So, with this great team and a Strategic Plan backed by a Board of Directors with diverse and abundant talent, we forged ahead and have accomplished many great things in 2013.   Some of the accomplishments were: (1) facilitating the construction of five full amenity cabins in two county parks with logs provided by our Forest Products Program. These cabins will help the county parks attract visitors to their communities that would otherwise never have...
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Prairie Rivers of Iowa Featured on KCWI Great Day Morning Show

Prairie Rivers of Iowa had a great opportunity and was invited to be on KCWI Des Moines CW Channel 23 on Monday August 4th. Our Local Foods Coordinator, Ruth Powell and our Marketing Coordinator, Jessica Johnson talked about a variety of topics but their main focus was the Local Food Cycle coming up on September 7th. Their interview first started off with Jackie (Great Day show host) talking to Jessica about what Prairie Rivers of Iowa is and does for Iowans. You can view the clip below to listen to Jessica talk about our organization with the example of our Log Products Program and the cabins of Hamilton County. We then continue on with Lou (Great Day show host) asking Ruth about the Local Foods Cycle. Ruth talked about the great ride for the taste buds that we have coming up September 7th. This ride will start in Moore Memorial Park and continue on for 40 miles visiting different farms with food...
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Rx for Outdoor Activity

Forget about an apple a day, try a stroll a day will keep the doctor away!  Dr. Robert Zarr has started to prescribe his patients specific recommendations for physical activity and in doing so, he has started to map out all the parks in the District of Colombia, which is 380 parks so far.  He intends to have his park database eventually become a phone app where patients and doctors can search for nearby parks that are rated based on their facilities and also view patients' duration of physical activity at each location.  Prescribing outdoor activity has shown its benefits in many ways - Dr. Zarr's patients have shown results in losing weight, patient's have dismissed any discomfort they may have had with visiting parks beforehand and, Dr. Zarr hopes that in the long run, parks will become safer and better places with an increase in usage by the public. Read the entire NPR article about Dr. Zarr's simply revolutionary prescriptions...
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CSP Contract Renewal Process Begins Next Month

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) will begin accepting applications to re-enroll in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) on July 11, 2014.  This renewal option is specifically for farmers and ranchers who enrolled in CSP initially in 2010. CSP is a comprehensive working lands conservation program that provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and ranchers to actively manage and maintain existing conservation systems and to implement additional conservation activities on land in production.  Through CSP, participants take steps to improve soil, water, air, and habitat quality, and can also address water quantity and energy conservation issues. CSP contracts last for five years, at which time they are eligible for renewal.  There are approximately 20,000 farmers and ranchers with CSP contracts that will expire this year, totaling over 20 million acres that can be re-enrolled to preserve and expand upon critical environmental benefits. These 20,000 contracts eligible for renewal began under two different enrollment periods in 2010.  One group...
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See EOR’s Presentation on the Squaw Creek

Would you like to see the presentation and data that Emmons and Olivier Resources Inc. has presented to the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority?  Check out their Water Quality Summary and their Stream Assessment presentations to read about their findings thus far.   Water Quality Summary Stream Assessment   A quick summary of their Key findings of the water quality and stream assessment: ·        The hydrology of Squaw Creek has been significantly altered. Flashy: Peak flow rates in the stream can be as much as 100x the base flow. ·        Monitoring data indicates that there are very high levels of nutrients (P and N) and bacteria. Boom/Bust dissolved oxygen cycles. ·        The manner in which past monitoring has been done makes it difficult to detect any trends. Recommendation is to focus effort at one or two sites along the creek and take more frequent baseflow and storm event samples. ·        Stream is NOT healthy: unstable, degraded habitat, carries large sediment load (without flushing it downstream)  ...
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Raising Awareness and Educating with Real Time Information for the Squaw Creek

Education and awareness are key components when trying to raise awareness on any topic, this is especially true when talking about the Squaw Cree Watershed. The Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority is trying to do those exact two things, educate the public and to bring awareness to the situation. They have gone about this by hosting several listening sessions in Stanhope, Gilbert, and Ames. Here the public came to ask questions about the group and what they are trying to achieve with this 20 year plan they are looking to develop.   As the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority continues to educate and raise awareness to the situation a great resource to use to keep up to date on the Squaw Creek in your area is the one-stop web-platform from the Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS). Through this site you can access real time community flood conditions, forecast and visualizations, among other great information.   There are different settings and layers you can apply...
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Learning through Healthy Soil and Water

This year, Prairie Rivers of Iowa is working on a project to assist Iowa’s outdoor classrooms in becoming more effective by researching existing outdoor classrooms in the state, seeking best practices from around the country, and putting together resources and materials for educators who want to create an outdoor classroom in their area.1  You probably also know about our work with area schools through our Kids on the Byway and School and Community Gardens programs. In honor of National Soil and Water Conservation Week, it’s worth taking a look at the important role that healthy soil and water can play in educating the next generation of Iowa leaders.  Research has shown many benefits result when students are able to experience the natural environment in person as part of their education.  These experiences can help contribute to child development and skill-building, increase fitness and motor skills, and even build creativity and reduce stress.  Outdoor experiences also help increase student success in a...
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DIG DEEPER: Mysteries in the Soil

As you go about your busy day, did you ever stop and ponder about how you are treating the soil and water that you come into contact with? In celebration of National Soil and Water Conservation Week, I challenge you to take a moment to do so. One way that a producer could conserve the soil and water quality and quantity is by enrolling the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). " In exchange for removing environmentally sensitive land from production and introducing conservation practices, farmers, ranchers, and agricultural land owners are paid an annual rental rate. Participation is voluntary, and the contract period is typically 10–15 years, along with other federal and state incentives as applicable per each CREP agreement." This program is just one example of how you can get involved in making a difference to the world that we so often take for granted. To learn more about the CREP Program, visit https://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=copr&topic=cep    Photo Credit: http://www.iowaagriculture.gov/waterresources/CREP.asp...
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Visit us at the Ames Eco Fair 10-2 March 29th

The third annual Eco Fair will be held this Saturday, March 29th from 10-2pm at the Community Center Gymnasium (515 Clark Avenue). The purpose of this free event is to educate the public on water conservation, reducing electrical consumption, among other green initiatives. There will be over 40 vendors of various businesses and clubs that want to make a difference with different activities on a green lifestyle. Events include door prizes, giveaways, and handouts. Please stop by the Prairie Rivers of Iowa booth to visit with us on our various programs we have. Our Log Products Coordinator, Mike Brandrup will be there to answer question about our Iowa Oak Cabins, and to answer questions to Squaw Creek. Ruth Powell, our Local Foods Coordinator will also there to answer questions....
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Lincoln Highway’s Corridor Management Plan

As you may know, Prairie Rivers of Iowa manages the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway, one of 11 byways in Iowa (a byway is a road specially designated by the United States or by the State of Iowa for its distinctive qualities).  Part of our work along the byway is telling the story of the people and places of the Lincoln Highway, by working to preserve its history, by promoting local businesses and events, and by working with communities and statewide organizations to recognize its unique character.  If you've seen us at a motor tour stop, presenting to a community group, or read a Lincoln Highway brochure, you've seen some of our work on the byway. Beginning this spring, we are launching a three-year initiative: creating a new Corridor Management Plan for the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway.  A Corridor Management Plan, or CMP, is a document that both reveals the assets of the Lincoln Highway and creates a plan for preserving and...
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