Category Archives: News

Local Iowa Groups Can Receive Financial Assistance To Launch Clean Water Campaigns

DES MOINES- Iowa groups looking for help implementing innovative, regional and locally led Clean Water Awareness and Education Campaigns can apply for funding from the Iowa DNR Watershed Improvement Section.

Through a grant program, the DNR looks for proposals that clearly demonstrate an ability to put in place innovative, targeted, impactful and sustainable Clean Water Awareness and Education Campaigns.

The DNR seeks to award grants to eligible local entities to develop and implement locally led Clean Water Awareness and Education programs. Educational campaigns will improve public knowledge of and promote actions to reduce non-point source pollution and improve water quality. The DNR seeks projects that will use innovative methods for reaching diverse audiences and stakeholder groups.

Campaigns must be achievable in the grant’s 18-month time frame and within the funding amount requested.

Applications are due by close of business May 31. Successful applicants will be awarded contracts beginning no later than Oct. 15, 2019, and ending no later than Apr. 30, 2021 (18 months).

These grants were developed after the DNR contracted with the University of Northern Iowa to survey Iowa’s residents in 2015 to measure their knowledge of water quality and identify potential behavior changes. This is the next step in the Non-point Source Management Plan. (For more details, see Objective 2.5 of Goal 2 of Iowa’s Non-point Source Management Plan and the results of the survey).

The survey will be repeated when grant-based educational campaigns are completed to track progress. The first round of Education Campaign contracts were awarded in Dec. 2018 and projects are ongoing.

For more information and grant application materials, visit http://iowadnr.gov/watershed. Contact Steve Konrady, DNR, at 515-725-8388 or  http://Steven.Konrady@dnr.iowa.gov with your questions.

Public invited to discuss future options for the Mon-Maq Dam on the Maquoketa River, April 4

Monticello – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host a public open house and meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m., April 4, at the Durgin Pavilion at Camp Courageous, near Monticello, to discuss the future of the Mon-Maq Dam and Maquoketa River.

“The Maquoketa River from Monticello to Pictured Rocks Park is a Midwest regional destination with the scenic canyon the river flows through,” said Nate Hoogeveen, Iowa DNR River Programs Director. “People visit from as far as Chicago. The future of this river is important to locals and Iowans more broadly… we’ve received e-mails from as far away as Indianola concerning this project.”

Jones County Conservation board owns the dam, and is studying it for modifications that would reduce safety hazards and eliminate barriers to fish movement.  Options could include removing the dam, replacing it with rapids, leaving much of the dam in place, or leaving the dam as it is.

Design options and results of Monticello-area focus groups and Jones County mail-in surveys to date will be presented at the meeting, along with an opportunity for the public to express their comments and concerns and ask questions.

The first half hour of the meeting will be an open house from 6:00-6:30 p.m. The public will be able to talk with the project consultant and project participants about design alternatives, dam history, dam safety, fish passage/river ecology, and recreational interests.

Any person attending the public meeting and has special requirements such as those related to mobility or hearing impairments should contact the DNR or ADA Coordinator at 515-725-8200, Relay Iowa TTY Service 800-735-7942, or Webmaster@dnr.iowa.gov, and advise of specific needs.

Find more information about the Mon-Maq Dam at http://www.iowawhitewater.org/lhd/ LHDmonmaq.htmlor. or https://friendsmonmaqdam.com/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Explore Iowa Rivers and Plan Trips from your Desktop

 

The Iowa DNR has an active and ready for use interactive paddling map that helps with trip planning, getting directions, and just exploring rivers from your desktop. Go to https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Where-to-Paddle to view it. You can also download a PDF that offers detailed instructions on how to use the map at this same page.

Last year a number of bridge construction projects located on popular stretches of river created barriers to navigation. Projects, to name a few, were reported at North Trailhead Access on the West Fork of the Des Moines River, just downstream of Bever’s Bridge Access on the Boone River, and at I-35 on the South Skunk River. These projects employ coffer dams that behave no differently from a typical low-head dam so it became critical to get the word out. A one-time press release just wasn’t enough, as some of these projects are under construction throughout the paddling season.

The River Programs utilized ESRI’s ArcGIS Online tools and functionality to deploy an online interactive map to display river data so it could be used in relation to these temporary hazards. While some data have discrepancies, the team continues to improve data quality and add more functionality to the map. It’s a work in progress, but offers a lot of information to assist paddlers in trip planning or exploring Iowa’s rivers.

All features of the map are clickable, providing more information. You can click on river or portage lines to get distances, or click on access symbols to find out maximum slope or the number of parking spaces. You can also change the map under the data (basemap) from a topo map to aerial photo coverage-there are more than six different maps to choose from. Lastly, you can get street directions between two or more points, which makes it easy to determine your shuttle route.

There is more to come. As we improve the quality of the data with the help of field workers and volunteers, we will also add more functionality, like the ability to print maps and add stream gauge information. If you’d like to assist the DNR in making our data more accurate and useful, please contact:John Wenck, DNR Water Trails Coordinator at john.wenck@dnr.iowa.gov  or 515-725-8465.

Dam Mitigations All Around Iowa

Sure. You may be delighted those frigid temperatures are a thing of the past. But in a wet year, the low temperatures from January through March kept water levels low enough in rivers around Iowa to get contractors moving on dam removal and mitigation projects statewide. These projects were each years in the making, and the latest wave of them will change how Iowans recreate and navigate. Here’s a run-down:

Ames

https://www.cityofames.org/government/departments-divisions-i-z/water-pollution-control/construction-projects/north-river-valley-low-head-dam

This project replaces the River Valley Park Dam with a divided channel, half for whitewater waves and half for fishing and fish passage. It also preserves the dams water supply function.

 

Fort Dodge (2 dams)

Little Dam (also called Lower Dam) was removed in February, completing the project. Paddlers can safety float from the Phinney Park Access on Lizard Creek down to Dolliver State Park unimpeded, and fish can move freely as needed as far upriver to the remaining portion of Hydroelectric Dam. A rocky bed was uncovered in this area.

Hydroelectric Dam, formerly a 16-high dam, is removed down to a few feet high through summer, when it is expected to be completely removed. The removal is staged into 2 steps in order to prevent all sediment in the impoundment from being released at the same time. HOWEVER, recirculating currents will continue to be a safety hazard remaining portion of the dam until the dam is fully removed because the dam’s height will still be about 5 feet. All boaters should avoid the stretch between the Hydroelectric Park Access and mouth of Lizard Creek until the rest of the dam can be removed – most likely later this summer.

Speaking of that first stage of removal, check out this time lapse video:

https://www.facebook.com/115815355132446/videos/349587482317072/

 

Quaker Mill Dam

Phase 2 of the project was completed this winter and the Maquoketa River takes a meandering course through the former bed of the Quaker Mill Pond.

 

Littleton Dam

The Littleton Dam on the Wapsipinicon River is completely removed. High water after ice-out prevented completion of the rock arch rapids that will take the place of the dam, and contractors will resume work after flows are reasonable for work to be done.

Speaking Up For Wildlife: How To Report Wildlife Crime:

 

Blanding’s Turtle crossing the road. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for protecting America’s wildlife from poaching, illegal commercialization and other kinds of wildlife crime. While our special agents and wildlife inspectors within the Office of Law Enforcement work with our federal, state and tribal conservation partners across the country to investigate these crimes, we also depend on tips from concerned citizens. People just like you step up and share information that helps us protect everything from native turtles and pallid sturgeon to bald eagles and white-tailed deer. Help us close the next case and you may be eligible for a monetary reward.

Wildlife crime is much more than elephant ivory and rhino horns. America’s native plants and animals need your help across the country. While it’s true that we are actively fighting illegal commercialization, commonly referred to as wildlife trafficking, wildlife crime is far more domestic than you may realize. It can happen in your local parks, wildlife refuges and even on your own land. Many of our law enforcement investigations are solved because people who see unlawful activities reach out to us or their local game warden. In tandem to this community effort, we established the use of financial rewards to people who provide critical information. This program allows us to thank everyday people who help us investigate and stop these crimes, all while protecting their anonymity in the process.

Be situationally aware and trust your gut when things just don’t seem right. This happened to a woman in Minnesota while she was on a bike ride and saw someone putting Blanding’s turtles in their trunk. She knew that these mild-mannered turtles are protected and extremely vulnerable during breeding season as they move to nesting habitat to lay eggs. She reported the vehicle’s license plate number and other identifiable information to an officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and her tip ultimately helped to uncover a multi-state, illegal trafficking scheme based in Wisconsin. The man involved pleaded guilty to a felony Lacey Act violation, served time in prison and paid heavy fines. During the investigation, officers recovered an incubator with 120 native map, painted and softshell turtle eggs that he had illegally collected in the wild. This wildlife trafficker also left an incriminating digital footprint, using online retailers to traffic additional wild reptile and amphibian species. Just one person speaking for a couple of turtles made a positive impact on local wildlife. In this case, we were able to recognize her contributions with a $1,500 reward through the Lacey Act Reward Account, all while maintaining her anonymity. You can remain anonymous when reporting.

Know the law:

Another way you can help is by knowing the laws that protect wildlife. Migratory birds native to the U.S., including their nests and eggs, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. Knowing what’s in season under state and tribal law is important too, because poaching isn’t the only wildlife crime, hunting out of season and falsifying records are also criminal offenses. Ethical hunters and anglers respect the biological reasoning behind bag limits and speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
Do you have a wildlife crime to report?
If you believe you have information related to a wildlife crime, email or call us with information about where and when it occurred, along with what you witnessed. Include any photos or videos you may have.

How to report a wildlife crime:

If you think you’re witnessing a crime in progress, maintain a safe distance and protect yourself.
Make use of your cell phone and take photos or videos, if you can do so safely.
Write down any information about the person committing the crime, including any vehicle information, what you witnessed and where the event took place.
If you suspect that someone is trafficking in wildlife online, include the full website URL and take screen captures of the potentially illegal sale. Send us an email with all related information or call us using the FWS TIPs line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477).
Please discuss the possibility of a reward with the special agent receiving your information.
Together, we can make a positive difference in the health of America’s fish, wildlife and iconic habitats.

Learn more about the federal conservation laws that guide our law enforcement work on behalf of America’s fish and wildlife. For more information, contact https://www.fws.gov/

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.

Iowa Project Aware: Year 17! Boone River in Hamilton and Wright Counties

Registrations are now available online for sign up at http://www.iowaprojectaware.org.

HAMILTON & WRIGHT COUNTIES – The Boone River in north-central Iowa will be a lot lighter, and arguably prettier, in just a few short months. This July, hundreds of volunteers will spend their vacations muscling trash from sixty-one contiguous miles of the river between Goldfield and the Boone Forks Wildlife Area near Stratford.

Iowa Project AWARE, an abbreviation for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, is scheduled for July 7-12. Now in its seventeenth year, Iowa Project AWARE is a one of a kind, multi-day, family friendly annual river cleanup. It is one of the few opportunities in Iowa for outdoor recreation and environmental education fully coordinated by volunteers, for volunteers.

“We are excited to be part of this year’s project on the Boone River,” explained Hamilton County Conservation Director Brian Lammers. “Not only will the cleanup directly benefit our local river ecosystem and improve water quality and recreation potential, the event also brings awareness to the community and brings volunteers together to work on the effort.”

During the cleanup, participants paddle canoes searching for river and riverbank trash by day and camping in local campgrounds and communities by night. Throughout the week volunteers also attend educational programs emphasizing local history, culture and nature. While the expedition lasts six days, participants can register for as few or as many days as they choose. Paddling equipment, boats, and daily meals are included with daily registration fees.

N-Compass, Inc. is the nonprofit organization who produces Iowa Project AWARE. The group is working with the Webster City-based Boone River Cleanup Committee, which has organized local cleanups in Hamilton County since 2007. Despite years of successful local cleanup efforts, local organizers report there is always trash to be found. With the expedition starting in the Wright County hamlet of Goldfield, cleanup volunteers will traverse nearly the entire navigable portion of the Boone River.

In the past 16 years, more than 2,610 volunteers from across the country have participated in the multi-day river cleanup. This includes paddling 1,200 river miles of Iowa waters, removing 436 tons of trash with more than three-quarters of which has been recycled.

For more information about Iowa Project AWARE, N-Compass, Inc. and to register as a river cleanup volunteer for the 2019 event please visit http://www.iowaprojectaware.org.

Iowa Great Lakes Curlyleaf Pondweed Management Plans

Spirit Lake – Invasive curlyleaf pondweed has become a common site in the spring on portions of the Iowa Great Lakes in recent years. The 2019 plan for managing this plant will be similar to 2018, but treat more acres.

A team of leaders from the county, local cities, lake associations, drinking water utilities, Iowa Lakeside Lab, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have been working together over the past two years to manage this invasive aquatic plant that has caused water access and navigation issues on portions of the Iowa Great Lakes.

“Curlyleaf pondweed has been in our lakes since the middle of the last century, but conditions have allowed it to gain a foothold growing to form dense mats impacting recreation and access,” said Mike Hawkins, Iowa DNR fisheries biologist. “This plant is common throughout the Midwest, causing similar issues on hundreds of lakes.” Unlike native plants, curlyleaf pondweed germinates in the fall, grows under the ice and hits the surface by early May. It dies back naturally in late June.

Terry Wilts, with the East Okoboji Lakes Improvement Corporation, has helped spearhead the management effort over the past few years and explains there are no easy options to solve this problem.

“This plant impacts hundreds of acres. As a team, we realize we can’t treat all of it, but should prioritize our funds and efforts,” Wilts said. “The 2019 plan builds on efforts from past years. We’ve taken what we’ve learned and are applying this knowledge to maximize our impact.”

The 2018 project treated 61 acres of curlyleaf with a combination of mechanical harvesting and the use of an aquatic herbicide. The 2019 plan includes a similar combination, but an increase in treatment area to 85 acres. The team was able to increase the number of acres while keeping the overall cost the same.

The 2018 project was considered successful. Boater access was improved and the project stayed on budget and on-time despite the late ice out. Twenty acres along the shoreline was treated with an aquatic herbicide and 41 acres (1 million pounds) was harvested using a mechanical plant harvester. The herbicide was used more than five miles from any drinking water intake even though water testing at the treatment area showed levels well below the drinking water standard right after treatment. The 2019 plan increases the herbicide treatment to 60 acres while still proposing mechanical harvesting of 25 acres.

The DNR and project partners want to emphasize the importance of not illegally applying herbicides.

“We can’t tolerate lakeshore residents illegally applying herbicides. Iowa law restricts their use and only the DNR has the authority to treat plants in the lake with a herbicide. Everyone living or vacationing in this area gets their drinking water from our lakes. Not following the law endangers that precious resource,” said Eric Stoll, with Milford Utilities, which supplies drinking water for thousands of customers in the region states.

Funding for the project will come from local contributions to the East Okoboji Lakes Improvement Corporation and the DNR’s Marine Fuel Tax Fund which is dedicated to improving boater access in Iowa.

Media Contact: Mike Hawkins, Fisheries Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 712-336-1840.

Curlyleaf Pondweed:
Photo credits to Wikipedia 

Spring Urban Trout Stocking Starts Soon!

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries staff will release between 1,000 to 2,000 rainbow trout in ten lakes across Iowa in March and April as part of its cool weather trout program.

The spring urban trout stockings are a great place to take kids to catch their first fish. A small hook with a night crawler or corn under a small bobber to casting small simple spinners such as a panther martin or mepps is all you need to get in on the fun.

Bringing trout to cities and towns offers a “close to home” option for Iowans who might not travel to northeast Iowa to experience trout fishing. Most locations also host a family friendly event to help anglers have success and fun while fishing.

The popular program is supported by the sales of the trout fee. Anglers need a valid fishing license and pay the trout fee to fish for or possess trout. The daily limit is five trout per licensed angler with a possession limit of 10.

Children age 15 or younger can fish for trout with a properly licensed adult, but they must limit their catch to one daily limit. The child can buy a trout fee which will allow them to catch their own limit.Once you buy your trout fee, you can fish for trout all year-long at any of the community trout lakes and trout streams in northeast Iowa.

Find tips on how to fish for trout on the DNR website at http://www.iowadnr.gov/trout.

2019 Spring Urban Trout Stocking Schedule:

March 22
Noon: Wilson Lake, east of Donnellson

March 30
11 a.m.: Ottumwa Park Pond, Ottumwa
11 a.m.: Liberty Centre Pond, North Liberty

April 6
Noon: Banner Lake South, north of Indianola
1 p.m.: Terra Lake, Johnston

April 13
10 a.m.: Heritage Pond, Dubuque
11 a.m.: North Prairie Lake, Cedar Falls

April 20
10 a.m.: Prairie Park (Cedar Bend), Cedar Rapids
Noon: Sand Lake, Marshalltown

Media Contact: Mike Steuck, Regional Fisheries Supervisor, Northeast Iowa, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 563-927-3276.

Rainbow Trout

Photo credits to Wikipedia

Littleton Dam removal on the Wapsipinicon River may create hazardous ice conditions

MEDIA CONTACT: Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator at 515-243-3714.

LITTLETON, Iowa — A construction project on the Wapsipinicon River in Buchanan County to replace the Littleton Dam with a rapids, may create hazardous ice conditions on the river upstream. Work is expected to start on Monday, Feb. 11th.

Snowmobilers, ice anglers, and any other use of the Wapsipinicon River should avoid the area from the Cutshall Access to the Littleton Dam.

The first step of the project removes the dam, which lowers the water level supporting the ice by about five feet. The ice may appear to be stable, but may have several feet of empty space below it and collapse unpredictably.

“This is a temporary, but hazardous condition,” said Todd Robertson, River Programs Outreach Coordinator for the Iowa DNR. “The water level will go back up as the rapids are built, but ice probably won’t be around anymore by then.”

The rapids will be built so the water will pool to about the same level as it was before. Nine fatalities have occurred in the Littleton Dam’s dangerous currents since it was built.

Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Diversity News! Eagles of Iowa!

Eagles of Iowa


Eagles are essentially massive hawks that are often seen perched in the open or soaring on very long broad wings.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


  • The most common eagle in Iowa. As an adult it is easily identifiable by the white head and tail, large yellow bill, and a 70″-90″ wingspan.
  • Juveniles are mostly dark with blotchy white on its underwing and tail. They take 4-5 years to reach full adult plumage.
  • They nest and overwinter in Iowa and are regularly found near rivers.
  • Feed mainly on fish, carrion, and roadkill.
  • For most, the nesting season begins in late February and March. If you see a nest, be sure not to disturb the birds and report the nest to the DNR.

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)


  • Most common in the bluff country of Northeastern Iowa, golden eagles can be found from November through March.
  • Golden eagles are brown with a variable yellow to tawny brown wash over the back of the head and neck. Adults have a faintly banded tail. Their wingspan is 80″-88″.
  • Immature bald eagles are frequently misidentified as golden eagles but the golden eagle juveniles have well defined white patches at the base of their primary feathers.
  • It takes 4 years for adult plumage to be acquired.

For more information, go to: DNR CONTACT:

Stephanie Shepherd | 515-230-6599 | stephanie.shepherd@dnr.iowa.gov