Watershed Matchup #4: Upper Squaw Creek vs. Lower Squaw Creek

Watershed Matchup #4: Upper Squaw Creek vs. Lower Squaw 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. On May 20, the Skunk River Paddlers launched their canoes and kayaks on Squaw Creek at 100th Street in Hamilton County and paddled down to 140th St in Boone County.  The recent rains made it a fast ride! However, the rain also washed a lot of sediment and quite likely some land-applied manure into the stream.  I collected a water sample just before I took this photo and had a lab test it for E. coli bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination: 2,390 CFU (Colony Forming Units)/100mL.  That’s 10 times the primary contact standard for a single sample (235 CFU/100mL) and just shy of the secondary contact standard (2880 CFU/100mL). Later that day, I collected a sample from Brookside Park in Ames with the help of my son.  The lab results came back at...
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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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Greenbelt in the Iowa State University Research Park: A Win for Water Quality

Last evening, Story County Conservation hosted an open house at the Core Facility in the ISU Research Park to share the plans for the greenbelt located in the Research Park that will be eventually linked to a corridor that connects to the High Trestle Trail and Heart of Iowa Trail. This area will be called the Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor. This project is a partnership that will serve Story County and Iowa in ways never before serviced by bringing county, city, university, and state agencies together to showcase how commercial development and natural resource conservation can by symbiotic. The engineering and design team for this project consists of representatives from Shive-Hattery, Wallace Roberts Todd, Great Ecology, Earthview Environmental, and E-Resources Group. Each of these representatives spoke on their component of the project, which included current state of the site, stream assessments, design and layout of future project, and incorporation of interpretive materials for all ages and backgrounds. The site will include many entry-ways,...
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Inspiration from Conservation Leaders

"Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." - Angela Duckworth, Grit I was reminded of the above quote yesterday when I attended the Iowa Farm Environmental Leadership award ceremony at the Iowa State Fair. This is an award organized by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship  that recognizes those who go above and beyond on their farms to address soil health and water quality. These are individuals who are not only enthusiastic about conservation, but also work to incorporate it into their farms. In Iowa, we are not short of enthusiasm for efforts to protect and build soil health as well as protect our public waterways. What is more rare are those who are standout individuals who take extraordinary measures to protect the land. This is seen among those who have won the IFEL award. They are not farming for the present, but farming for the vitality of their ecological and social communities for the future. Previous research shows that farmers are motivated by...
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Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

Conservation Champions around the Squaw Creek Watershed

This spring, planting season took off in the State of Iowa as the temperatures warmed up in the soils. We are seeing a multitude of conservation practices at work in the Squaw Creek watershed with each farmer implementing what works best on their land. Strip Tillage One farmer hard at work out in the field is Jeremy Gustafson, a diversified farmer who grows corn and soybeans along with raising hogs in the Squaw Creek Watershed. Gustafson, a Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner for Boone County, implements strip-tillage as a conservation practice to protect his soil from erosion.  Gustafson comes from a multi-generational family farm and has been managing his farm with conservation in mind for over ten years. Strip tillage is a conservation tillage system in which only strips of soil are worked before planting. This allows for the soil to warm up and dry out for planting. Seeds are then planted directly into the strips. This practice improves the soil health and water quality...
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Iowa Master River Steward Program

"We speak for the rivers, because they can't speak for themselves," was the general theme of our river steward training led by Dr. Jim Pease over the last two days hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival. They have put together a thorough curriculum discussing watersheds, geologic landforms, topography, river form and function, navigating Iowa's waters, river wildlife, river chemistry and monitoring, agricultural production and policies, stream and riparian zone restoration including fish and wildlife habitat, and finally developing a river-health related project.   Now that I have been through the "Training the Facilitator Program", I am prepared, along with 17 other educators from across to state, to develop and host a Master River Steward Program in our watershed area. The idea is to develop a large group of river stewards who can spread the word about watershed and stream health across Iowa. At the beginning of the program each participant receives the Izaak Walton League's Handbook for Stream Enhancement & Stewardship and many more resources...
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Cost-Share Available for Conservation Practices in Squaw Creek

(AMES, IOWA) – Prairie Rivers of Iowa is working with the local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) offices to provide funding for cost-share for conservation practices to farmers in the Squaw Creek Watershed. Funding for this effort is in cooperation with the Water Quality Initiative (WQI) from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and support from local partners. The Squaw Creek Watershed demonstration project is providing funding for farmers located in the watershed specifically for in-field practices, such as cover crops and no till at the state-wide WQI flat rate cost share rate, as well as fifty-percent cost share for edge of field practices, including saturated buffers. “The best use of these practices can vary from farm-to-farm and farmer-to-farmer,” said Hanna Bates, Watershed Coordinator for Prairie Rivers of Iowa. “By working with the conservation districts, it is our intent to build relationships with farmers and find what practices will work best for them while having an overall positive impact...
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Many from the Public attend the Squaw Creek Coalition Public Meeting

Many from the Public attend the Squaw Creek Coalition Public Meeting

On June 29th the Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition informational meeting was held at the Ames Public Library in the evening. Approximately 20 people came from the surrounding community to learn more about the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Plan.  Individuals from the community represented many different segments from the surrounding area, including Iowa State University students, urban residents, and farmers. Attendees asked questions about plan details and how Prairie Rivers of Iowa will assist in improving water quality in the watershed over the upcoming year. Erv Klaas, Vice President of the Prairie Rivers of Iowa Board of Directors, informed the public at the meeting about the current state of the water within our watershed and presented a summary of the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Plan. Key components of the plan are to increase the awareness and understanding of the watershed, improve the water quality, and to promote the practices that individuals can use to help improve our water quality. You can read the full...
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The Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority has Adopted a Mission and Goals

Ames, Iowa (October 23, 2014) – The Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority Board (SCWMA) has been meeting to place the final touches on their watershed management plan with the help of Emmons and Olivier Resources, Inc. (EOR) from Oakdale, Minnesota (a water resource-based engineering and environmental consulting firm). At the Board’s last meeting, they adopted a mission and set some specific goals to achieve in the Squaw Creek Watershed.   The newly adopted mission statement is as follows: The mission of the Squaw Creek Watershed Management Authority Board is to engage, educate and encourage all citizens to improve the health, stewardship and resiliency of our watershed resources.   The goals of the SCWMA are to work on restoring hydrology, improving water quality, creating recreational opportunities and increasing wildlife habitat within the watershed through an active watershed educational campaign and relying upon building partnerships. Pat Conrad, project manager with EOR stated, “The ultimate goal of the WMA is to transform Squaw Creek into a resource...
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IOWATER program is rolling out some big changes

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources IOWATER program is rolling out some big changes and want to keep the people informed. They are updating and creating some great resources to use if you are interested in Iowa waters. Check out all that is happening below and follow the links to learn more.   1. New Water Monitoring Atlas - The Iowa DNR has replaced the old Water Monitoring Atlas with a new version at: http://programs.iowadnr.gov/maps/watermonitoring/   2. IOWATER Workshops - They are now being scheduled. See the current schedule at www.iowadnr.gov/iowater and click on “Calendar of Events” for Introductory, Biological or Bacteria workshop in your area..   3. IOWATER Success Stories - Do you have a story of how IOWATER data are being used in your community (or school, or where ever), the DNR woule love to hear from you at www.iowadnr.gov/iowater   4. 69th Annual Soil and Water Conservation Society Meeting - This meeting will be held on July 27th – 30th,2014, Lombard, IL. For more information...
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