National for Twelves Day

National for Twelves Day

On National For Twelves Day (4/12), our nation honors a magnificent number that holds significance in several ways.

We measure our days in two 12 hour sets. When we buy roses, eggs, and pastries, we purchase them by the dozen. How many months are in a year? Twelve. Of course, math lovers appreciate 12 because it has a perfect number of divisors.

On this special day, we want to bring to your attention 12 species of pollinators and wildlife that are listed as “Species of Greatest Conservation Need” by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, a full list of which can be found here

Rusty Patched Bumblebee
Habitat: Riparian Prairie and Woodland
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Pollen and nectar; preferred plants include milkweeds, prairie clovers, jewelweed, asters
Notes: This is the only federally endangered bee species in the lower 48 states.

Regal Fritillary
Habitat: Tallgrass Prairie
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Prairie and Birdsfoot Violets as caterpillars, nectar as adults
Notes: This butterfly was once considered for Iowa’s Official State Butterfly.

Gorgone Checkerspot
Habitat: Tallgrass Prairie
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Sunflowers and Lysimachia as caterpillars, nectar as adults
Notes: As adults, this butterfly exclusively visits yellow flowers.

Monarch
Habitat: Tallgrass Prairie
When in Iowa: Breeding Season (Spring-Fall)
Diet: Milkweeds as caterpillars, nectar as adults
Notes: The Monarch migrates all the way to Mexico for the winter.

Bald Eagle
Habitat: Forests near water
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Fish
Notes: The mating dance for the bald eagle involved two birds grabbing each other’s talons and free falling.

Trumpeter Swan
Habitat: Lakes and Ponds
When in Iowa: Breeding Season
Diet: Plants
Notes: This is the largest species of bird in North America.

Horned Lark
Habitat: Tallgrass Prairie
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Seeds and Insects
Notes: There are 42 subspecies of Horned Lark worldwide.

Eastern Kingbird
Habitat: Tallgrass Prairie
When in Iowa: Breeding Season
Diet: Fruit and Insects
Notes: This bird has a hidden patch of bright feathers on its head that it uses to intimidate predators.

Gray Tree Frog
Habitat: Forests and Woodlands
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Insects
Notes: This species is strictly nocturnal, and is often found feeding on insects attracted to outdoor lights.

Blanchard’s Cricket Frog
Habitat: Wetlands and Ponds
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Aquatic Invertebrates
Notes: This small frog only lives for around 1 year.

Tiger Salamander
Habitat: Underground in Tallgrass Prairie and Woodlands
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Insects, Worms, and Frogs
Notes: This is the largest ranging salamander in North America, found coast-to-coast.

Common Snapping Turtle
Habitat: Ponds
When in Iowa: Year-Round
Diet: Small Animals
Notes: Snapping turtles can live to be over 100 years old.

Contact our Watershed Coordinator David Stein to learn more about restoring habitat and wildlife on your land:

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Receives Grant to Create Courthouse Interpretive Panel

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Receives Grant to Create Courthouse Interpretive Panel

The Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway managed by the not-for-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa has received a tourism grant from the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce to create and install an interpretive panel at the Marshall County Courthouse.

The panel will provide travelers along the byway with historical information about the courthouse’s site selection, original construction and dedication in 1866, the subsequent addition of the clock tower in 1900 and more. The recent history surrounding courthouse damage and repairs due to the 2018 tornado and 2020 derecho, including the March 31, 2020 return of the dome as Marshalltown Strong onlookers cheered on, will be featured as well.

The return of the Marshalltown County Courthouse dome on March 31, 2020 after some repair and restoration. Photo by Andrew Potter/Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber grant is being leveraged with grants from Union Pacific and Humanities Iowa to help complete the project according to Prairie Rivers of Iowa’s Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Coordinator Jan Gammon. “We’ve been working for a while now to make this project a reality to help increase the number of byway travelers to Marshall County while encouraging them to stop and embrace its rich history,” says Gammon.

“We are excited to support this project and look forward to seeing it as a great addition to our Marshall County Courthouse and the Marshalltown downtown,” said Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Andrew Potter, “We have always cherished our Lincoln Highway tradition here and this project will ensure that will continue into the future.”

The not-for-profit Prairie Rivers of Iowa has managed the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway for nearly fifteen years promoting historic preservation and economic development along Iowa’s 460-mile route that includes welcoming communities like Marshalltown. Future plans encompass the hope of obtaining National Scenic Byway designation while continuing to improve preservation, interpretation and recreation efforts for the benefit of travelers and the communities they visit.

Funding for the Lincoln Highway Heritage Byway Marshall County Courthouse interpretive panel was received in part from Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism.

Blog Post Template

Text goes here.

Caption.

More text here.

Caption.

More text here.

More text.

More text. 

More text

Caption.

More text.

Prairie Rivers of Iowa and Story County Officials are Organizing County-Wide Water Quality Monitoring Effort

Prairie Rivers of Iowa and Story County Officials are Organizing County-Wide Water Quality Monitoring Effort

Story County leaders are beginning to develop a ten-year water quality monitoring program for the county.  The program will be the first of its kind in Iowa in which a county, its jurisdictions and supporting organizations have worked together to create such a planning document.  The Ames based nonprofit Prairie Rivers of Iowa has organized and is facilitating the effort with planning team representing members from Story County, City of Ames, City of Gilbert, City of Huxley, City of Nevada, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Izaak Walton League and the Story County Community Foundation.

According to City of Ames Municipal Engineer Tracy Warner Peterson, “Much more can be achieved as we work in collaboration rather than have all of the weight on one organization’s shoulders. The vast knowledge of team members through the collaboration brings together so much more potential than if we were each independently working to improve water quality.”

South Skunk River in Ames, Iowa
The team is focusing on establishing a ten-year plan to create a pathway for data collection for use towards education and guiding water quality improvements throughout the county. “It’s pretty clear that the quality of our water effects our quality of life – we drink it, we are made of it, we recreate in it, we count on it for production of our food, for green lawns and for trees which clean our air, and so much more,” relates Story County Conservation Director Mike Cox,  “Therefore we want to understand our water quality so we can make improvements where needed”.

A primary goal for the plan’s creation includes supporting the quality of life in Story County by aligning water quality monitoring efforts with recreational, environmental education and watershed improvement projects. Secondly, the team plans to provide residents with tools to understand water quality concerns and solutions while actively participating in citizen science to improve local streams and lakes. “As water quality information becomes more available, land owners/residents in the watershed can then learn what we are each able to do to reduce nutrients thereby improving water quality that results in healthier habitat and enhanced recreational opportunities in our communities,” states Peterson.

Creeks run through many of the county’s public lands, city parks and backyards. They can be full of fish or lifeless, clear or muddy and choked with algae, safe for kids to play in or full of pollutants depending on the water quality as runoff enters the watershed.

NRCS photo
Many area farmers and developers are implementing conservation practices that address water quality problems.  The team plans to celebrate the progress taking place and identify new areas where conservation practices can be most effective.
Even the smallest creeks and drainage ditches can influence water quality downstream. Bacteria ending up in the South Skunk River affects the use of the newly dedicated water trail while nitrogen, phosphorus and algae blooms winding down to the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the “dead zone” where water holds too little oxygen to sustain marine life.
State agencies only have resources to monitor the biggest rivers like the South Skunk River and Story County’s most heavily used beaches like Hickory Grove Lake. Only a small amount is known about backyard creeks without the efforts of volunteers.  Ballard Creek in Huxley, West Indian Creek in Nevada and Minerva Creek in Zearing have rarely been tested.
The Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, along with local volunteers, have been monitoring Squaw Creek and its tributaries for over ten years. Some initial findings suggest that many creeks in the watershed have elevated levels of nitrate and E. coli bacteria. That data led to a watershed plan and grant-funded project that Prairie Rivers of Iowa and partners used to help farmers install water quality conservation practices like a denitrifying bioreactor, 3532 acres of cover crops and 3719 acres of no-till practices.  
Volunteers testing water quality in the South Skunk Watershed in Story County.
The development of a ten-year water quality monitoring program for the county addresses the need for continued water-quality monitoring of Squaw Creek, its tributaries other streams in the county. It will raise awareness, guide improvements and track the progress towards conservation efforts. Prairie Rivers of Iowa will continue to organize water quality monitoring events, share monthly lab tests and develop educational materials.
Peterson concludes, “Through collecting and analyzing water quality data throughout Story County, we are able to make more informed decisions, including financial priorities, regulations, and improvements to the land.  By changing, we can improve water quality to enhance habitat, reduce flooding, create natural areas that are flourishing with potential to explore and enjoy more recreational opportunities.

Prairie Rivers of Iowa and Story County Officials Organizing Water Quality Monitoring Effort

Prairie Rivers of Iowa and Story County Officials Organizing Water Quality Monitoring Effort

Story County leaders are beginning to develop a ten-year water quality monitoring program for the county.  The program will be the first of its kind in Iowa in which a county, its jurisdictions and supporting organizations have worked together to create such a planning document.  The Ames based nonprofit Prairie Rivers of Iowa has organized and is facilitating the effort with planning team representing members from Story County, City of Ames, City of Gilbert, City of Huxley, City of Nevada, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Izaak Walton League and the Story County Community Foundation.

According to City of Ames Municipal Engineer Tracy Warner Peterson, “Much more can be achieved as we work in collaboration rather than have all of the weight on one organization’s shoulders. The vast knowledge of team members through the collaboration brings together so much more potential than if we were each independently working to improve water quality.”

South Skunk River in Ames, Iowa

The team is focusing on establishing a ten-year plan to create a pathway for data collection for use towards education and guiding water quality improvements throughout the county. “It’s pretty clear that the quality of our water effects our quality of life – we drink it, we are made of it, we recreate in it, we count on it for production of our food, for green lawns and for trees which clean our air, and so much more,” relates Story County Conservation Director Mike Cox,  “Therefore we want to understand our water quality so we can make improvements where needed”.

A primary goal for the plan’s creation includes supporting the quality of life in Story County by aligning water quality monitoring efforts with recreational, environmental education and watershed improvement projects. Secondly, the team plans to provide residents with tools to understand water quality concerns and solutions while actively participating in citizen science to improve local streams and lakes. “As water quality information becomes more available, land owners/residents in the watershed can then learn what we are each able to do to reduce nutrients thereby improving water quality that results in healthier habitat and enhanced recreational opportunities in our communities,” states Peterson.

Creeks run through many of the county’s public lands, city parks and backyards. They can be full of fish or lifeless, clear or muddy and choked with algae, safe for kids to play in or full of pollutants depending on the water quality as runoff enters the watershed.

NRCS photo

Many area farmers and developers are implementing conservation practices that address water quality problems.  The team plans to celebrate the progress taking place and identify new areas where conservation practices can be most effective.

Even the smallest creeks and drainage ditches can influence water quality downstream. Bacteria ending up in the South Skunk River affects the use of the newly dedicated water trail while nitrogen, phosphorus and algae blooms winding down to the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the “dead zone” where water holds too little oxygen to sustain marine life.

State agencies only have resources to monitor the biggest rivers like the South Skunk River and Story County’s most heavily used beaches like Hickory Grove Lake. Only a small amount is known about backyard creeks without the efforts of volunteers.  Ballard Creek in Huxley, West Indian Creek in Nevada and Minerva Creek in Zearing have rarely been tested.

The Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, along with local volunteers, have been monitoring Squaw Creek and its tributaries for over ten years. Some initial findings suggest that many creeks in the watershed have elevated levels of nitrate and E. coli bacteria. That data led to a watershed plan and grant-funded project that Prairie Rivers of Iowa and partners used to help farmers install water quality conservation practices like a denitrifying bioreactor, 3532 acres of cover crops and 3719 acres of no-till practices.  

The development of a ten-year water quality monitoring program for the county addresses the need for continued water-quality monitoring of Squaw Creek, its tributaries other streams in the county. It will raise awareness, guide improvements and track the progress towards conservation efforts. Prairie Rivers of Iowa will continue to organize water quality monitoring events, share monthly lab tests and develop educational materials.

Volunteers testing water quality in the South Skunk Watershed in Story County.

Peterson concludes, “Through collecting and analyzing water quality data throughout Story County, we are able to make more informed decisions, including financial priorities, regulations, and improvements to the land.  By changing, we can improve water quality to enhance habitat, reduce flooding, create natural areas that are flourishing with potential to explore and enjoy more recreational opportunities.