1986-2016: Celebrating 30 Achievements for Iowa’s Natural Resources

30th anniversary logo
2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. In the last 30 years, Iowa citizens, companies, organizations and agencies have partnered to positively impact quality of life and to preserve our natural heritage. While there’s still work to be done, and while there are numerous success stories not on this list, the DNR’s 30th anniversary is an opportune time to recognize 30 accomplishments by many Iowans who have changed our natural resources for the better.


View the  30 Achievements for Iowa Natural Resources report or browse the 30 achievements below:

1. REAP Rewards

$316 million through the Resource Enhancement & Protection Fund have helped natural resources in 99 counties.

9. About the Watershed

A new focus on land practices and partnerships with landowners to fix lakes and streams puts water quality first.

5. Groundbreaking Act

The landmark 1987 Groundwater Protection Act was the foundation of some of the most sweeping water protection initiatives in Iowa history.

13. World-Class Hatcheries

Iowa’s innovative, nationally recognized hatcheries produce 150 million fish annually stocked in Iowa waters.

17. Safely Handle HHMs

More than 51 million pounds of dangerous pollutants have been turned in at Iowa’s 70 new collection centers.

21. Iowa on the Map

New mapping technologies have reinvented Iowa’s ability to see and protect resources, especially flood plains.

25. Addressing AFOs

Iowa was one of the first states to pass Animal Feeding Operation laws with criteria for air, water and community impacts.

29. Terrestrial Turnaround

More than 1,000 contaminated sites called “brownfields”-- along with 10 million tires -- have been cleaned up in Iowa.

2. Trout Triumph

The number of naturally reproducing trout streams has gone from six to 45 thanks to landowner water quality efforts.

6. Returning Eagles


Eagles, peregrines, turkeys, swans and otters were rarely seen in Iowa by the mid-1980s. Now these species thrive.

10. Great Iowa Trail Boom

1,200 new miles of hiking and biking trails now criss-cross the state, increasing health and recreation.

14. Plug Up Drainage Wells

More than 60 percent of Iowa’s ag drainage wells have been plugged, eliminating direct pollution to groundwater.

18. New Lakes, New Outdoor Fun

Eleven new lakes now provide wildlife habitat, fishing, boating and economic development to local areas.

22. Private Lands

Iowa landowners have enrolled more than 4,500 acres into easements and developed conservation practices to protect water and habitat.

26. New Way for Business

Dozens of Iowa companies have invested millions of dollars to reduce waste streams and improve energy efficiency profitably.

30. Citizen Amendments

In two amendments to the Iowa constitution, Iowans voted by huge margins to protect and create funding for natural resources.

3. Cleaning the Air

Iowa industries have reduced two major air pollutants, NOx and SOx, by 43 percent and 60 percent respectively – a huge decrease.

7. Iowa's Wind Energy

Wind energy now accounts for 28.5 percent of Iowa electricity production.

11. Curbside Recycling

2.2 million Iowans now participate in curbside recycling in 644 Iowa communities.

15. Iowa's Watertrails

Paddlers enjoy 915 miles of new water trails and 14 unsafe low-head dams have been renovated to improve paddler access.

19. Iowans Volunteer

Thousands of volunteers have dedicated millions of hours to caring for natural resources.

23. Digging it Up

A leading pollutant of groundwater, 30,000 underground storage tanks and 5,300 contaminated UST sites have been removed and cleaned up.

27. Access to Recreation

Iowans with differing physical abilities have more accessibility to enjoy the outdoors.

4. Natural Landscapes

More than 1 million acres of prairies, wetlands and forest have been restored in the last 30 years.

8. Unity in Community

Almost $10 million annually has been invested in 45 Iowa lakes, improving water quality and recreation.

12. Public Land Protects

147,000 new acres of natural areas, parks and forests now provide habitat for wildlife and outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing.

16. Honey Creek Resort

Iowa’s first destination state park along with numerous other new parks now welcome thousands of visitors.

20. Green Design

More than 100 Iowa buildings have earned LEED certification, the highest national standard for green design.

24. World Class Herd

Iowa has become one of the top deer-hunting spots in the nation due to science-based deer management strategies.

28. Treatment Plants

Sewage treatment improved dramatically in last 30 years through $1.6 billion in facility improvements across Iowa.