A watershed is the land area that drains to and influences a given body of water. For example, 147,000 acres of land in four counties and four communities drain to Ioway Creek (formerly Squaw Creek) in Ames.  In order to improve water quality in the South Skunk River, Ioway Creek, and other rivers and lakes in Iowa, we encourage conservation practices in those watersheds.

Headwaters of the South Skunk and Ioway Creek Watersheds Map
South Skunk River

Watershed Education

People aren’t used to thinking about where rainwater goes when it drains off their property, so a big part of our work is educating people about the connections between land and water. We’ve shared pop-up banners at fairs and community events. We helped Story County Conservation install 50 road signs marking the boundaries between major watersheds. 

In Field Conservation Practices Banner
What is Water Carrying With It Banner
South Skink River Watershed Sign
Edge of Field Conservation Practices Banner

Check out the latest videos that we created with help from the City of Ames!

South Skunk River Watershed Video

South Skunk River Watershed
Watch the Video

City Of Ames Smart Watershed Video

Where Does Stormwater Go?
Watch the Video

Watershed Partnerships

Watersheds don’t stop at municipal or county boundaries, so the elected officials and staff of cities, counties, and soil & water districts need to work together to improve water quality.  A formal partnership (Watershed Management Authority) helps to start the process but takes time and effort to build trust and open lines of communication, compile information about the watershed, plan joint projects, and apply for grant funding.  We took the lead on several projects for the Ioway (Squaw) Creek WMA and laid the groundwork for the Headwaters of the South Skunk River WMA.

Watershed-Based Conservation

Improving water quality in a river requires good stewardship of the land in its watershed.  We’ve held many field days and helped farmers in the 147,000 acre Ioway Creek watershed receive cost-share for over 3,500 acres of cover crops, over 3,700 acres of no-till, and a woodchip bioreactor.