Wetland Conservation Field Day “Wetlands, Wet Times Conservation Practices and Programs” – June 26, 2019

⋅On June 26th from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Prairie Rivers of Iowa will be hosting a conservation field day event at the Hamilton County Kamrar Wildlife Area one mile west of Kamrar, IA at 2704 Lockwood Ave.. Kamrar, IA 50132.  This event is a chance for property owners to learn more about the solutions and assistance needed in regards to the effects that wet weather can have on their land. Representatives from Prairie Rivers of Iowa, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), the Hamilton County Conservation Board, the Iowa Agricultural Mitigation Bank, Legacy Learning Boone River Valley and Pheasants Forever will be presenting and answering questions. The free event will be held outdoors and will be moved indoors to the Hamilton County Conservation Board Headquarters at Briggs Woods Park in case of bad weather. Be sure to RSVP to Forestry and Land Management Specialist Mike Brandrup @mbrandrup@prrcd.org and stop by!...
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Watershed Matchup #2: Clear Creek VS Clear Creek

Watershed Matchup #2: Clear Creek VS Clear 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. Clear Creek @Hyland on May 18 Clear Creek@ Hyland on May 24 Transparency > 60 cm Transparency of 1 cm Orthophosphate 0.1 mg/L Orthophosphate 5 mg/L Clear Creek was true to its name on May 18 when the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition did its spring water quality snapshot.  Long-time member Ed Engle and three Ames High School students (Wil, Becca, and Nate) filled a transparency tube to the top (60 cm) and the secchi disk at the bottom was clearly visible.  A week later, Rick Dietz tested the same location after a 1.7 inch rainstorm and couldn’t see the disk until he’d poured out all but 1 cm of the water! Water quality can change rapidly.  Sediment* in the water spikes during and after a big rain storm.  So does phosphorus and E. coli.  Nitrate and chloride show strong...
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Watershed Matchup #1:  Long Dick Creek VS Bear Creek

Watershed Matchup #1: Long Dick Creek VS Bear 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. Long Dick Creek and Bear Creek both start east of Ellsworth and join the South Skunk River between Story City and Ames.  Both have agricultural watersheds with thousands of acres in both Story county and Hamilton county.  Yet one is dirtier than the other.   You might wonder why… Hey!  Wipe that smirk off your face! “Long Dick” was the unfortunate nickname of a tall guy named Richard who explored the land near the creek when it was still wild prairie.  “Bear Creek” was named because an early settler shot a black bear nearby.  Since the 1860s, the prairie and the bears have disappeared and the man’s nickname has acquired other meanings, but we at Prairie Rivers of Iowa are serious about our water and our history and will have no giggling, thank you very...
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Squaw Creek Water Quality Testing Snapshot

On Saturday May 18 along with the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, Ames High students and local volunteers Prairie Rivers of Iowa conducted a water quality testing "snapshot" in Squaw Creek and its tributaries. Nitrate, phosphorus, chloride, clarity and other water quality benchmarks were measured. A special thank you to all the volunteers for your help working towards water quality for everyone in the watershed down to the Gulf of Mexico! ...
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1919 Trans-Continental Motor Convoy – 100 Years Later

1919 Trans-Continental Motor Convoy – 100 Years Later

One hundred years ago, in what began as the idea of one man, America was shown how motor trucks could transport troops, supplies, arms, and ammunition across the nation. This was known in 1919 as the First Trans-Continental Motor Transport Convoy. The Idea and Development  Henry Ostermann, who we talked about in a previous writing, had been piloting convoys for the Army up and down the east coast in the winter of 1917, during World War I. He was also serving as Field Secretary for the Lincoln Highway Association and merged his two occupations into one idea for the convoy. In "A Picture of Progress on the Lincoln Way", published by The Lincoln Highway Association (LHA) in 1920, the LHA  officers and the General Staff in Washington held a conference in June 1919 to discuss convoy details. The success of the run was due to the LHA supplying accurate data to the Army as a "result of its years of study of trans-continental ...
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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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Learn about volunteer stream monitoring

Ever wondered about the condition of your local creek? What kinds of fish, aquatic insects, and other critters live there? Does the water quality pose a health risk for children wading or kayakers paddling? How much nitrogen and phosphorus is washing downstream to the Gulf? In some cases, a regulatory agency or university is collecting this information, but with 71,665 miles of rivers and streams in the state, that's not a given. Most of what we know about Clear Creek, Worrell Creek, and College Creek in Ames; Montgomery Creek and Prairie Creek in Boone County; Gilbert Creek (Ditch 70) in Gilbert; or Crooked Creek near Stanhope, we know because the efforts of volunteers in the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition. For other streams in the area, including West Indian Creek in Nevada, Rock Creek in Maxwell, Middle Minerva Creek in Zearing, and Long Dick Creek near Story City, we have almost no information. Iowa DNR has had to scale back its role in providing equipment, training, and IT...
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3 Lessons from the Iowa Water Conference

3 Lessons from the Iowa Water Conference

Several of our staff attended the Iowa Water Conference on March 12 and 13.  The event brings together hundreds of smart, hard-working people that are working  to improve water quality, restore aquatic habitat, and control flooding across the state of Iowa.  We always learn a lot from both the presenters and the other attendees, and come away energized.  Here are our top three lessons we learned this year: 1. Farms can simultaneously improve water quality and wildlife habitat Adam Janke, Extension Wildlife Specialist, talked about how the practices being used for nutrient reduction can also benefit many of Iowa's species of greatest conservation need.  For example, trumpeter swans like CREP wetlands. Migrating ringneck ducks and Topeka shiners use oxbow wetlands.   Meadowlarks use prairie strips. We will be pursuing these kinds of synergies in three watersheds with a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant, so it was great to hear specifics. 2. Retailers of agricultural products need to be part of water quality solutions Chris...
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2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

The Watersheds & Waterways Program Year in Review for 2018. It was a year full of continuing projects, new projects, and expansion of current projects. Our program has grown and will continue to grow in 2019. Check back for current programming on our website and social media!...
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National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Grant

Prairie Rivers of Iowa has been awarded a Conservation Partners (CPP) Grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) to provide one-on-one technical assistance to landowners and farmers working to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in Story County. The focus area includes three subwatersheds within the South Skunk River Watershed which contribute to excess nutrients into the Mississippi River (map below). The primary objective of the grant is to engage farmers and agriculture in best practices, innovation, and stewardship. "We are excited to expand our work to two additional watersheds within the South Skunk River Watershed with this grant. This project will provide great opportunity to improve the acres and quality of conservation lands for soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat,” said Prairie Rivers of Iowa Watershed and Waterways Program Coordinator Kayla Bergman. Our watershed work has been focused on collaborating with local and statewide groups to improve water quality by educating citizens and stakeholders about vital practices that...
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