DES MOINES — The efforts of Iowans in 2013 to improve Iowa’s lakes, rivers and streams have resulted in success stories across the state, and more efforts are underway for 2013. Working with groups statewide, including the Iowa DNR’s Watershed Improvement Program, Iowans are making changes on the land to improve our waters.
“What we each do individually on our land, whether it’s an urban yard or a farm field, has an impact on water quality – but when we come together as local groups and think strategically, we can make a big impact,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. “This approach benefits not only water quality, but Iowa communities, as improved water quality often results in a better quality of life. Great fishing and hunting creates tourism, kids have cleaner water to play and swim in, and improvements can help drinking water.”
The DNR works with other state and federal agencies to help Iowans organize local watershed improvement efforts by providing technical and financial assistance to create long-term, comprehensive plans. With watershed management plans, local groups work with landowners and residents to make changes on the land in areas that can make the largest impact on water quality.
For example, Green Valley Lake near Creston is seeing increased park use, better fishing and more following a watershed project there. The project focused on work in the lake to improve habitat and water quality, but also worked with local landowners and in the park to make improvements to how water ran over the land and into the lake. Work in the watershed resulted in keeping 3,402 tons of sediment out of the 338-acre lake each year – that’s enough to fill a line of dump trucks a mile long. Ice fishing is up 20 times over historic levels and the campground on the lake has seen a 25 percent increase in use.
“The reputation is going to get out and we’ll get more visitors,” said recently retired DNR fisheries biologist Gary Sobotka, who worked on the project. “Everything’s going in the right direction. We’re looking at a pretty bright future for Green Valley.”
The Green Valley story, as well as other success stories from 2013, are highlighted in “Working for Clean Water: 2013 Watershed Improvement Successes in Iowa,” a booklet available at http://www.iowadnr.gov/Environment/WaterQuality/WatershedImprovement/WatershedSuccesses.aspx
For more information on the DNR’s watershed improvement efforts, contact Steve Hopkins at 515-281-6402 or at Stephen.Hopkins@dnr.iowa.gov
or visit http://watershed.iowadnr.gov