Roots and mussels on the South Skunk River

Roots and mussels on the South Skunk River

This is a good time of year to enjoy the South Skunk River Water Trail and other local waterways! I joined the Skunk River Paddlers this weekend, paddling my kayak from Anderson Access to West Petersen Park.  While the main purpose of the outing was fun, we also hauled out some tires, cleared some smaller obstructions, and made note larger logjams for followup.  The water was chilly but the air was pleasant. Bluebells were blooming on the bank and we found live mussels in the water (this one is a plain pocketbook). While central Iowa has been spared the extreme flooding that has devastated communities on the Missouri and Mississippi, it's been a wet fall and a wet spring, and we saw the evidence of that on the river. Bark had been scraped off trees by ice flows, lots of bank slumping, and lots of exposed roots. The roots here illustrate the value of riparian buffers. A good stand of perennial vegetation can...
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Watershed Planning Update

Watershed Planning Update

An update on our watershed planning efforts is long overdue.  Our NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant for the “Keigley” watershed project wrapped up in September of 2018.  Here’s some of the highlights from 2017-2018 and what we’ll be doing next. A change in focus:  No more need to explain that by “Keigley Branch Watershed” we really mean “part of the South Skunk River.”  In the future, we’ll be working with the entire 200,556-acre watershed that drains to the South Skunk River above the confluence with Squaw Creek in Ames. On paper, a single ten-digit hydrologic unit (HUC10) seemed like a more manageable project, but as we talked with the public it became clear that watershed plans and partnerships would be more effective if the river’s headwaters in Hamilton County were included sooner rather than later. A new Watershed Management Authority (WMA):  The Headwaters of the South Skunk River WMA was formed in August 2018 with seven signatories: Story County Supervisors Story County Soil...
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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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