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 hold a bank together and keep phosphorus out of the Gulf.

If you’re interested in establishing a riparian buffer on your farm, especially if you live near West Indian Creek, Long Dick Creek, Clear Creek, or Worrell Creek give Prairie Rivers of Iowa a call!