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Black Hawk County will be implementing a few dozen new tools to promote conservation and awareness when staff install signs introducing Iowa’s creeks and watersheds later this year.
More than 60 signs will be placed throughout Black Hawk and Grundy Counties, which jointly received funding through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ new County Creek Sign Grant.
Josh Balk, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources watershed and source water coordinator for Black Hawk County, said he hopes that by seeing the signs, visitors will take steps to protect and conserve these natural areas.
“When people are aware of their streams and watersheds they have more of a connection to them and they recognize their value,” he said.
Black Hawk and Grundy are two of 33 counties that will install new signs through the grant program. Introduced in 2022, the program provides funds to conservation and natural resource groups to install creek and watershed signs on county roads or city streets within priority watersheds.
In the first round of the County Creek Sign Grant Program, 24 projects spanning those 33 counties will receive a combined total of $240,000 to install creek signs, river signs and watershed boundary signs on county roads in priority watersheds.
Black Hawk and Grundy Counties will place 38 primary stream signs and 27 secondary signs. The secondary signs will likely denote a watershed, while primary signs will name a river or creek.
Locations include around Crane Creek, the Wapsipinicon River, Sink Creek and the Cedar River.
Local partnerships for the effort include the Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District, Black Hawk County Engineering, Black Hawk County Conservation, Black Hawk Creek Watershed Project, City of Cedar Falls, City of Waterloo, Dry Run Creek Watershed Improvement Project, Grundy SWCD and Grundy County Engineering.
These signs will join others installed through a separate project that works with the Iowa Department of Transportation to install creek signs in priority watersheds on state and federal highways in Iowa. Through the Stream Sign Initiative, which began in 2014, about 570 creek signs have been placed across Iowa.
Both the County Creek Sign Grant and Stream Sign Initiative programs are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Section 319 program and awarded by the Iowa DNR.