Category Archives: Conservation

Heavy Rainfall Causes Multiple Wastewater and Manure Releases

Following heavy rainfall and flash flooding throughout much of Iowa, the DNR encourages Iowans to stay out of Iowa streams until after the waters recede.

While fast stream currents are the biggest risk for people, high waters can also carry dangerous debris and bacteria. “For their own safety, we encourage people to stay out of the water until several days after streams return to normal,” said Scott Wilson in the DNR’s Spencer field office.

“About 70 wastewater discharges have been reported over the Memorial Day weekend, and the calls are still coming in,” Wilson said. With more rain predicted, additional discharges are expected.

“Some cities have reported multiple wastewater discharges, and two have reported storm water backups into basements,” he added. Both the Iowa DNR and the Department of Public Health have helpful links for people dealing with disasters and flood cleanup.

Some livestock facilities, particularly in northwest Iowa, have had two to four or more inches of rain. “Most of these facilities are OK, but we are working with a few to stop runoff,” Wilson said.

Facilities that are discharging or expecting to discharge should contact their local DNR field office. “We’ll work with them to identify solutions and minimize impacts to nearby streams,” Wilson said.

After hours, facilities can call the DNR emergency spill line at 515-725-8694. The DNR website has more information about spill reporting requirements.

Tips for Helping a Turtle Cross the Road

Eastern Box Turtle

Article credits to: By Danielle Brigida, USFWS

Photo credits to:  by Danielle Brigida, USFWS

This time of year many wildlife, like turtles, are on the move. As the weather warms, turtles go in search for new territory, breeding opportunities and quests for food. Also, many females will travel to find ideal places to lay their eggs and will often cross the roads. Please keep a lookout for them while you’re driving this season.

Helping Turtles Cross the Street

  1. Always keep your own safety in mind — watch out for oncoming vehicles, signal properly when pulling over and recognize your surroundings first before working to help save an animal.
  2. Be very careful when moving the animal (it could be injured or it could bite you depending on what species). If possible, sometimes it is best to just stand guard as the animal crosses the road on its own.
  3.  If the animal needs to be moved, move it to the other side of the road in the same direction it was going. Using a car mat can be a good way to help the turtles across without actually picking them up. By using a car mat or putting something under the turtle, you can slide the turtle in the direction it was going.
  4. Do not pick the turtle up by the tail. Some turtles may be frightened and will try to bite (like snapping turtles). Do not pick them up by the tail! Here’s a great video showing ways to safely help a snapping turtle in the road such as the car mat trick, or by holding them at the
  5.  Do NOT take it with you — please only focus on helping it get safely to the other side.
  6. Get involved with roadside restoration and transportation projects: We’re working to make our roads and roadsides work for transportation and the environment. Learn more about road ecology and wildlife for ways to get involved at a local level.
    base of the shell and not the side.
  7. Learn more about wildlife laws in your state. Contact your State and Territorial Fish and Wildlife Office to verify what is legal for your state and ways you can get involved. You also are always welcome to contact your closest National Wildlife Refuge to learn more about what species to look out for.

    8. If possible, snap a photo and report sightings Herp Mapper to help track the movements of these reptiles.

Clean, Drain and Dry to Avoid Aquatic Hitchhikers

 

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds all boaters and anglers to “Clean, Drain, and Dry” their boats and equipment to protect Iowa lakes and rivers from aquatic hitchhikers.

Aquatic hitchhikers are invasive species – everything from zebra mussels to Eurasian watermilfoil – that move from one waterbody to another by hitchhiking on boats, in bait buckets and on other equipment used in the water. They often grow quickly and spread fast when brought to another lake or stream due to lack of natural controls.
“The best way to control the negative impacts of aquatic invasive species in Iowa is to prevent their spread to new waterbodies,” said Kim Bogenschutz, aquatic invasive species coordinator for the Iowa DNR.

These aquatic invasive species can create serious problems for Iowa waters by reducing native species and making lakes and rivers unusable for boaters, anglers and swimmers.
Boaters and anglers can unintentionally spread aquatic hitchhikers if they do not take the proper precautions each time they leave a lake or river.

  • CLEAN any plants, animals, or mud from your boat and equipment before you leave a waterbody.
  • DRAIN water from all equipment (motor, live well, bilge, transom well, bait bucket) before you leave a waterbody.
  • DRY anything that comes into contact with water (boats, trailers, equipment, boots, clothing, dogs). Before you move to another waterbody either: Spray your boat and trailer with hot or high-pressure water; or Dry your boat and equipment for at least five days.
  • Never release plants, fish, or animals into a water body unless they came out of that water body and empty unwanted bait in the trash.

It is illegal to possess or transport prohibited aquatic invasive species. It is illegal to transport any aquatic plants on water-related equipment in Iowa. Signs posted at public accesses remind boaters to stop aquatic hitchhikers and identify infested waters.

Boaters must also drain all water from boats and equipment before they leave a water access and keep drain plugs removed or opened during transport. It is also illegal to introduce any live fish, except for hooked bait, into public waters.
Find more information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters in the current Iowa Fishing Regulations or at https://www.iowadnr.gov/ais.

Iowa Threatened & Endangered Species

You cannot take, possess, transport, import, export, process, sell or offer for sale, buy or offer to buy, nor can a common or contract carrier transport or receive for shipment any of the following species of fish, frogs, turtles, mussels or salamanders:
Fish:
Lake Sturgeon, Pallid Sturgeon, Pugnose Shiner, Weed Shiner, Pearl Dace, Freckled Madtom, Bluntnose Darter, Least Darter, American Brook Lamprey, Chestnut Lamprey, Grass Pickerel, Blacknose Shiner, Western Sand Darter, Black Redhorse, Burbot, Orangethroat Darter, Topeka Shiner
Frogs:
Crawfish Frog
Turtles:
Yellow Mud Turtle, Wood Turtle, Ornate Box Turtle, Common Musk Turtle, Blanding’s Turtle
Mussels:
Spectacle Case, Slippershell, Buckhorn, Ozark Pigtoe, Bullhead, Ohio River Pigtoe, Slough Sandshell, Yellow Sandshell, Cylinder, Strange Floater, Creek Heelsplitter, Purple Pimpleback, Butterfly, Ellipse and the Higgin’s Eye Pearly Mussel
Salamanders:
Blue-spotted Salamander, Central Newt and the Mudpuppy.
Info credits to Iowa DNR
Photo credits by Wikipedia 

Keep It Clean! Keep It Fun! By Guest Author Ruth Dunlevy of “Back Water Paddlers”

The following is a “guest article” contribution to the IWTA about how anyone can help create a more positive culture on the river and focusing on how to politely get would-be litterers to take and use a Keep It Clean /Keep It Fun mesh litter bag! A brief description of the Iowa DNR campaign will follow the article.

” I started paddling at a young age in Ohio and fell in love with rivers. Living in Iowa, I started working at Sea-ta-Sea Watersports in 2007. I was doing kayak demonstrations, sales and volunteering as a kayaker for local triathlons. Now I work with Eric at Up a Creek in Central City doing pretty much the same thing.

We started Backwater Paddlers right after Sea-ta-Sea closed down. We were meeting so many people on the river and our group has now grown to over 700 followers. People appreciate that we let the river determine when and where we are going to paddle every Sunday, usually starting in April every year.

We post on Facebook where and what time we are going and people show up.
I started speaking at Paddle Day at Indian Creek and I met up with Todd Robertson from the Iowa DNR. He had these amazing blue Keep it Clean, Keep it Fun bags that we could tether to our outside rigging on our kayaks so we didn’t have to bring yuck into our boats. I have used the same bag over and over again for cans and bottles and other trash.

At the start of every event when we have new paddlers to the group, I offer them a blue bag and show them how to use it. I also give them to fisherman, tubers and others enjoying our rivers to keep the garbage out of our waterways.

Last year I started a fund with all the cans we collect. We just sent our first check into Iowa Rivers Revival. I chose this nonprofit group because our watersheds are being neglected and underfunded by our state. Our water is one of our greatest resources we have here in Iowa to promote a lifestyle and tourism. IRR works endlessly on keeping our watersheds clean. Making that small effort every time we paddle helps to keep our water ways cleaner. ”

Keep It Clean! Keep It Fun! 

The campaign goal: To improve behavior on Iowa’s rivers and lakes. An Iowa DNR public relations campaign to improve that behavior called Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun, was initiated on a limited scale in 2013.

“We want people to have fun on the river, but not at the expense of others, ” says Nate Hoogeveen, director of the Iowa DNR’s river programs.

The message is simple:

Keep It Clean. Pick up trash as you go and pack out the trash you bring in.
Keep It Fun. Use respectful language and behavior.
For Everyone! Respect private property.

“More and more livery businesses are handing out litter bags to all of their customers who go out to enjoy a day on the river”, says Todd Robertson, outreach coordinator for rivers programs at the Iowa DNR. “To see anglers and boaters wanting one for their tackle boxes and boats is so awesome, it really makes a difference.”

Later in 2019 there will be many County Conservation Boards and more retail stores stocking bags that can be picked up for free on a limited basis. Bait stores across the state will also be stocking a few.

For now, you can email todd.robertson@dnr.iowa.gov and request a bag starting now and either pick it up at the Iowa DNR in Des Moines or it can be mailed to you.

Monthly Feature: Species 101: North American River Otter

Photos Courtesy of Steven Niewoehner

 

 

 

 

 

The North American River Otter is a playful and curious semi-aquatic mammal found in rivers, lakes and marsh habitats of quality water. Luckily, Iowa enjoys populations of river otters. Many states in the mid-west do not enjoy this delightful member of the weasel family as it is very sensitive to environmental pollution and habitat losses and its range has been reduced across its former habitats.Through some reintroduction programs, the otter has enjoyed a stable population in its current range.

Their thick water-repellent coat helps them swim up to 6 mph. They can hold their breath for up to 4 minutes and typically weigh in at 11 to 30 pounds. They live in family groups in late fall through winter during breeding season, then the female is alone with the babies from spring until late fall.

The female establishes a burrowed den along the waters edge with numerous tunnels connecting under water where litters consist of 1-6 babies with 1-3 an average. Interestingly, they are very near-sighted and can get too close to boats and people.

They are very active year round, typically at night during the spring through fall seasons, then are active mostly during the daylight hours in the wintertime.

Their diet consists mainly of fish and crustaceans. However, they will eat small mammals, young ducklings, aquatic insects, mussels and hibernating turtles.

Info credits to Wikipedia

Southwest Iowa will be home to 14 new trumpeter swans on May 9 and 10


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will release 14 trumpeter swans at three locations in southwest Iowa as part of the effort to create a self-sustaining population of swans south of Interstate 80. All releases will occur rain or shine.

  • Six swans will be released on the north side of Lake Icaria at the east boat ramp on May 9 at 9:30 a.m., in partnership with the Adams County Conservation Board.
  • Two swans will be released at Viking Lake near the restaurant/beach area on May 9 at 1 p.m.
  • Six swans will be released at Lake Anita on May 10 at 1:30 p.m., in partnership with the Cass County Conservation Board.

These releases are part of the Iowa DNR’s statewide effort to restore trumpeter swans to Iowa that began in 1993. Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s. By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states.

It takes six years, on average, before trumpeter swans successfully nest. Last year, Iowa was home to 54 pairs of nesting trumpeter swans; however, only two of those nesting pairs were south of I-80. Dave Hoffman, wildlife research technician with the Iowa DNR, said the goal is to raise that number to eight, which would likely create a self-sustaining population.

“We are hopeful to get them nesting here in a year or two,” Hoffman said. “We had swans displaying some territorial signs at Lake Icaria, which is encouraging.”

As the largest North American waterfowl, these all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds and have an 8-foot wingspan. The trumpeter swans being released are young and flightless and will imprint on the area where they learn to fly, returning each year as open water is available. The swans were donated to the project from zoos in Cleveland, Kansas City, Green Bay, Wis., Oklahoma City, Bronx, Anchorage, Alaska and Maryland.

Each event includes a swan and wetland presentation, an opportunity to touch and view the swans up close, and a photo opportunity with the kids. Staff from the Kansas City Zoo will be on hand offering educational activities, and filmmaker Steve Harryman may be at these releases collecting footage for an upcoming documentary “Return of the Trumpeter Swans, in partnership with the Trumpeter Swan Society.

For more information, contact David Hoffman at David.Hoffman@dnr.iowa.gov or 641-425-0737.

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.

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.

Monthly Feature: Species 101: American White Pelican

Photo by Pam Wolter 
Sweet Marsh, Bremer County

 

The American White Pelican can be seen this spring in fresh water lakes and marshes across Iowa and North America on their way to their summer grounds up north. They have the second largest wingspan of  North American birds with a span of nine foot, only behind the California Condor in size. They can weigh up to 30 pounds with 11 -20 an average.  They are bright white except for blacks edges on their wing ends. They eat around four pounds of fish and crayfish daily by fishing for it as the fish swim by. They are unlike the Brown Pelican who dives for their dinner.

The spring migration to the breeding grounds occurs in March and April. During spring breeding both male and females develop a small horn on their top beak that later falls off after breeding and egg laying.

Nesting begins early April through early June. After one week of courtship and egg laying, the male assists the female with incubating the nest of 2 to 3 eggs with 6 the maximum laid. They incubate for a period of one month. The juveniles leave the parents care around three weeks after learning to fly. The Pelicans leave for their winter grounds along the Mississippi River (south of Saint Louis), Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coastal lakes in September and October.

Currently the North American Pelican has a stable population. However, due to human impact, they suffer habitat loss, nest abandonment, fishing gear entanglements, poaching and boating disturbances.

Credits to and for additional detailed info, click onto this link.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_white_pelican