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Join DNR watershed project groups for Earth Day

  • 4/21/2022 1:58:00 PM
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DES MOINES—Earth Day provides many ways to enjoy our natural resources or simply to help. 

For ages two to five, there’s “Story Sprouts” at the Des Moines Botanical Center. For ag producers and those interested in cover crops, there’s an ongoing self-guided tour at 14 sites in the North Raccoon River watershed. Water sampling, cleanups and rain garden maintenance are also possibilities. Please join us at these watershed project events. Or check out other ways to help or celebrate Earth Day at home or in your favorite outdoors area. 

Ongoing. Spring Cover Crop tour. Sac, Carroll and Calhoun counties. Black Hawk Lake Watershed Project.

The Black Hawk Lake Watershed Project is hosting tours of cover crop sites in the North Raccoon River watershed. The self-guided tour showcases cover crops from winter wheat to triticale planted last fall with different seeding methods. Find a map and photos guiding you to the 14 sites. Cover crops protect water quality during critical winter months when soils often lie bare and unprotected from erosion. Signs will be up until new crops emerge. 

Partner: Iowa Soybean Association’s Farm to River project. Contact Ethan Thies, DNR watershed coordinator, at Ethan.Thies@dnr.iowa.gov or 712-730-3018 for more information. 

April 22, 2 to 4 p.m. Dry Run Creek stream cleanup. Cedar Falls area. Dry Run Creek Watershed Project.

The Black Hawk County Soil & Water Conservation District seeks volunteers to experience their watershed as they collect litter along Dry Run Creek and nearby trails. Volunteers help improve water quality by picking up this common, widespread pollutant—making life better for the community and aquatic creatures that rely on the stream. Individuals, families and groups are welcome. Meet on campus starting at 2 p.m. at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. Trash bags and gloves will be provided for cleanup. Dress for rain or shine. 

Partners include UNI’s Earth and Environmental Science Department, supported by the city of Cedar Falls, the Dry Run Creek Watershed Improvement Project and DNR. For more information, contact Josh Balk, DNR watershed coordinator, at Josh.Balk@dnr.iowa.gov or call 319-325-8593.

April 23, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Water Quality Monitoring Snapshot at Dry Run Creek. Cedar Falls area. Dry Run Creek Watershed Project.

Join the Black Hawk County Soil & Water Conservation District and partner Green Iowa AmeriCorps to collect water samples and field data in the Dry Run Creek watershed. This snapshot event will provide an overall picture of water quality. Volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. outside the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. After a brief training, groups will collect samples at specific sites. Data can help treat pollutant sources more accurately, which can measurably improve urban water quality. Dress for rain or shine. No experience is necessary. Monitoring equipment will be provided. 

Financial support comes from a Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP-CEP) grant and support from the University of Northern Iowa GeoTREE, Iowa DNR and the Dry Run Creek Watershed Improvement Project. For more information, contact Josh Balk, DNR watershed coordinator, at Josh.Balk@dnr.iowa.gov or call 319-325-8593.

April 23, 10 a.m. to noon. Park Stewardship Project--Rain Garden maintenance and planting. Easter Lake, Des Moines. Easter Lake Watershed Project.

The Polk County Conservation Volunteer Park Stewards seek more volunteers to beautify the largest pollinator garden at Easter Lake Park, along with other rain and pollinator gardens. Volunteers can help, while learning to identify invasive plants versus desirable natives. Activities include mulching, weeding, watering and litter removal. Volunteers should plan on getting dirty and dress for the weather. Recommended gear includes gloves, long pants, boots or sturdy shoes, and a refillable water bottle. 

Register at least one day before the event starts. See the Easter Lake event or contact Cody Acevedo, watershed coordinator, at Cody.Acevedo@ia.nacdnet.net for more information. 

April 23, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Earth Day at the Garden. Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Easter Lake Watershed Project.

The botanical garden offers free admission for their Earth Day event, the culmination of a month-long focus on water. Bring the kids and family. Many partners will help the garden highlight how plants are essential to clean water. Kids ages two to five can join a fun, interactive story time, “Story Sprouts” at 10:30. Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District will provide information on urban cost-share programs to improve soil quality, put in a raingarden or native landscaping, or add a rain barrel. Cost-share is available in the Easter Lake Watershed Project area. The district will also have a rainfall simulator and interactive Enviroscape for people to explore. 

Other community partners will provide demonstrations and activities including upcycling planters, a plant scavenger hunt and a rain barrel give-away raffle. For more information, see the botanical garden’s event page or contact Cody Acevedo, watershed coordinator, at Cody.Acevedo@ia.nacdnet.net

The Black Hawk Lake, Dry Run Creek, and Easter Lake Watershed Projects are funded in part with EPA Section 319 grant funds through the DNR Water Quality Improvement Section.

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