Conservation Efforts

By Caroline van Schaik, Driftless Region coordinator

But first!

Top of page for deadlines, with details below. Read on for how to act on your priorities:

➢ Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. – “The Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in it for me (and the planet)” with Sen. Tina Smith. A free live/streamed event in Bloomington, MN. See flier below for details and to register.

➢ We need 10,000 farmers and landowners to tell us stuff about crops and livestock. See below for survey details and how to take it yourself.

➢ Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. – “The Green Amendment Movement as a Path to Environmental Health” comes to the “Thinking Like a Watershed” web series. See below for details and to register.




“Thinking” the Green Amendment Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.


UMRI’s February web series, “Thinking Like a Watershed,” brings Maya van Rossum’s Green Amendment to the forefront, starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14. It’s a romantic idea, right, but also one of many attempts to help us take our environment seriously. How does it work and why now: van Rossum will explain and address your questions. Don’t forget to register!

“The Green Amendment Movement as a Path to Environmental Health”
Maya K. van Rossum— Founder, Green Amendment for the Generations
How the Green Amendment movement is incorporating constitutional rights at the state level to codify a healthy environment.

Register Here!
Please share this event with your networks!  Facebook link!

Montana, Pennsylvania, and most recently, New York, have Green Amendments incorporated into their state constitutions that guarantee environmental protections. Author and attorney Maya K. van Rossum says clean air and water, and a stable climate, are entitlements for all. Coining the phrase in her 2017 book by the same title, van Rossum and her non profit, Green Amendments for the Generations (, are on a national campaign to protect the planet by bringing more states on board. Iowa, for example, was introduced to Green Amendment legislation on Earth Day 2021 by Representative Chuck Isenhart. How does this environmental tool work in today’s politically charged and radically changing climate?

This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Chris Henning of the Panora Conservation Chapter and Des Moines Chapter Communication Director, Bud Hartley. We feature guests for 30-40 minute presentations that shed daylight on good works done in the name of the Mississippi and its uplands. In this way we uplift our shared goals for a cleaner river, a cared for environment, and kinder communities. Recorded programs are available at shortly after they air live.


February Action— Farm Bill Summit


If you’re interested in participating at the Farm Bill Summit, this February 23-24, you can register below:

—JUST ANNOUNCED: Ben and Duane invite you to a Farm Bill Info and Strategy Summit to be held in Mason City, IA on Feb. 23-24, 2023. The first day will be dedicated to Farm Bill education and discussion and the next day will be dedicated to developing strategies to advance conservation priorities in the 2023 Farm Bill. Click here!  to RSVP for the summit. Everyone is welcome though the session will be focused on Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. For more information, please contact Ben Knuth or Duane Hovorka.

Follow up links from Ben Knuth— NWF’s farmer-oriented Conservation Champs website  and conservation professionals-oriented Grow More website.  Please contact Ben Knuth for further details.


…“Thinking” sneak peek for Mar. 14


Helping crop and livestock farmers do more farming together is a driving concern behind UMRI and many others paying attention to the landscape. Mark your calendar for our “Thinking” program on Tuesday, Mar. 14, when Iowa Extension beef specialist Denise Schwab and UMRI’s Caroline van Schaik shed light on the multi-state “Matchmaking” project and the survey we’ve just released to propel our soil and farmer health forward. Read on for survey details, available now for 10,000 farmers and landowners

…“Thinking” January’s recording


The recording to January’s program is available:  “We are NOT Farm Bill Fly-over states! “:  Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Duane Hovorka and Ben Knuth- Jan. 10, 2023  How ag. conservation strategists in MN and IA hope to deliver soil and climate priorities on the back of the Inflation Reduction Act. A preview of what’s next, with Duane Hovorka, Agriculture Program Director, Izaak Walton League of America, and Ben Knuth, Agriculture Policy Specialist, National Wildlife Federation.




The Match survey is ready for 10,000 farmers/landowners


UMRI is part of a multi-state effort to talk forthrightly about cropland, livestock, and the matchmaking that would put soil and farmers alike in a healthier state. That in turn helps public waters, habitat, rural economy, roads, and wildlife be more resilient against weather, climate, and global everything. If the integration of crops and livestock brings benefits, we also acknowledge the challenges. What are they? We’ve spent months and many difficult conversations assembling questions whose answers we hope provide direction to more useful technical help, workshops, research, financial options etc.
We seek answers and thoughts from 10,000 farmers and non-operating landowners. Please take the survey via the QR code (mobile phone- and laptop-friendly) or click here!

Please get it to your constituents.  Please contact Caroline van Schaik with questions etc. “Match Made In Heaven” is a partnership between crop and livestock associations, universities, public agencies, and soil/water groups. The results will guide development of resources to benefit farmers, landowners, and the public at large who bear the consequences of farming beyond the farm gate. For more details on the initiative, please see this page last month or Green Lands Blue Waters/Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group.


Crane flies have a tolerance for some contamination but only to a point, so finding them in your stream tells you that the water is OK – not necessarily pristine but not polluted beyond supporting life. And for volunteer stream monitors, finding them is particularly satisfying because they are big and easily identified. Plus, they make anglers happy. An outdoors workshop on how to monitor a stream is slated for May. See below for how to prepare and where to sign up. Photo by Dave Shaffer



Hands wet streamside?


UMRI in the Driftless region of Minnesota will host a Save Our Streams (SOS) training workshop in May with certified trainer, Dr. Jenny Biederman. Please contact Caroline van Schaik to put your name on an “Interested” list so that details get to you directly. Space will be limited so that “stream side” really is, for everyone. The only prerequisite is enthusiasm! Really!

In the meantime, you can do some on-line winter homework by way of preparation at Save Our Streams. The SOS program, begun 51 years ago, is a national effort by the Izaak Walton League to engage volunteers across the country in collecting data according to standard protocols. Data are uploaded to a searchable hub and are used at the federal level to inform water policy and practice. In-person training had been suspended due to Covid; a grant from the IWLA Endowment Board allows us to reconsider this option.