Watersheds and Wildlife

The Watersheds and Wildlife Program works to improve water quality in rivers and lakes and to restore habitat for the 100 species of butterflies and 400 species of bees found in Iowa.  We accomplish this work through robust education and monitoring, and by partnering with both private landowners and local government. 

Past projects have focused the Ioway Creek and Skunk River watersheds in Story, Boone, and Hamilton counties. 

Here is what we’re up to now:

Ames Pollinator-Friendly Community Plan

The City of Ames Pollinator Friendly Community Plan 2023 - 2033

Prairie Rivers and the City of Ames have a vision to become a leader in developing and sustaining pollinator habitat that will enrich the quality of life for the human and biological communities of Ames. 

Read the plan

Enrolling working lands into butterfly habitat

Monarch and Bumblebee on Swamp Milkweed at Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor

This upcoming project will help farmers and landowners create habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators, and enhance the value of existing conservation lands for monarchs.  The project has a special focus on women landowners.

Water monitoring in Story County

Story County Water Monitoring & Interpretation Plan 2021-2030

Water quality in most creeks and lakes in Story County is not tested by state agencies, so in 2020 we worked with 9 partner organizations to plan for how we could sustain a monitoring program at the local level.  Prairie Rivers continues to support the effort by collecting samples, organizing volunteer events, and making sense of the data.

Movement Infrastructure for Clean Water in Iowa

Phosphorus in Clear Creek

New federal funding can help improve water quality, but only if we have good information to make decisions and measure progress.  This project (supported by the Water Foundation) will strengthen communication between environmental groups in Iowa, and develop tools and guidelines for water monitoring projects.

Relationships between water quality and livestock density

Graph of E. coli vs livestock density in 58 Iowa watersheds

We have spotted some interesting patterns in a statewide database that reveal some ways in which manure can impact Iowa’s rivers, and some ways it doesn’t.  This data analysis project is funded by a research grant from the Raccoon River Watershed Association and our findings were shared at their annual conference in March 2024.  We hope to post details by the end of April.

The Clean Water Act: 50 Years, 50 Facts

The City of Ames Pollinator Friendly Community Plan 2023 - 2033

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, we launched a weekly video series on YouTube and Instagram, explaining water jargon like TMDL, NPDES, and WOTUS in 90 second chunks.  Many videos have been filmed at wastewater treatment plants, wetlands, and other locations in Iowa and incorporate music parodies.  Check out the complete playlist.

Creek Cleanups

Monarch and Bumblebee on Swamp Milkweed at Tedesco Environmental Learning Corridor

Over the past few years, we helped plan four volunteer events that removed over 7000 pounds of trash from Ioway Creek and other streams in central Iowa.  Depending on the weather, we may be walking, wading, or paddling canoes, but it’s always a good time!  Keep an eye on our Events page–we do at least one a year.

Conservation Connection Blog

A big part of our work is telling engaging stories to help explain the science and policy behind the environmental issues we work on.  Here are three of our latest posts from the Conservation Connect Blog.


Pollinator Conservation Specialist

Now hiring!

Dan Haug
Water Quality Specialist

Contact Watersheds and Wildlife