Conservation Efforts

By UMRI's Outreach Coordinator, Christine Curry and Iowa's Conservation Director, Mike Delaney, and other Iowa Izaak Walton League chapter members

Early morning walk at sunrise.  Flock of geese filling the skies above Black Hawk Lake, Sac County, March 2023. Photo by: Elizabeth Partridge Blessington

Once again— We are grateful that the Izaak Walton League provides UMRI a home within a respected organization and leaders that give credibility to our undertaking of addressing problems of climate change, compromised natural resources; polluted waters, destruction of habitats, flooding, sedimentation and food production.  Most of the individuals and organizations who are committed and take action are volunteers who give hours of their time to the cause of improving our natural capital to create a harmonious life for all.  We are Thankful for ALL of you!

Spring is here and on we go with outside activities in nature. We have had some beautiful days— from sunny to gray, from warm to cold, even with snow! And so it is in March!

—We celebrate World Water Day everyday and we continued to advocate for clean water.
—To continue our efforts, we organized a special gathering on March 22nd with our Cedar River watershed partners in Cedar Rapids at the Linn County Chapter house, a recap below.
—Water monitoring is back in full swing.
—As we continue to celebrate water everyday, an upcoming Earth Day gathering will be also celebrated at the IWL’s Iowa State Convention on April 21st and 22nd at the Des Moines Izaak Walton League chapter house.

March Snow, Sac County, 2023. Photo by: Elizabeth Partridge Blessington


Panora Conservation Chapter’s Spring Activities—


The first day of April kicks off with IWL’s Panora Conservation Chapter (PCC) hosting their Spring meeting, Saturday, April 1st at the beautiful Carnegie Library in Perry, Iowa. The program starts at 10:00 am. Community members are welcome to attend. We will be reporting on our progress with the Izaak Walton League’s Endowment grant for our SOS- Save Squirrel Hollow project in Greene County. This work is in partnership with our watershed partner organizations, especially with the Raccoon River Watershed Association.

Several other presentations will cover subjects we have featured in the past months. Neil Hamilton will be discussing his comprehensive books “The Land Remains” and his new book “The River Knows”, which will be available this July. Science teacher Mark Dorhout will be reporting about Panorama’s Prairie Restoration project which is supported in conjunction with the PCC. IWL’s SOS Midwest Coordinator, Heather Wilson will be sharing how to use the Clean Water Hub and she will demonstrate how the Greene County data is entered and how this data is useful to watershed communities. Stand by for more updates about water monitoring and a large watershed “Snapshot” monitoring, which includes all of Polk County and Greene County May 23rd. Please contact: Christine Curry to learn more.

Raccoon River at Walnut Woods State Park view upstream (west) from the boat ramp March 2023, Photo by: Robin Fortney


Local Heroes in Howard County Revisited!

Register Here!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please share this event with your networks!  Facebook link! 

In March 2021 our “Local Heroes in Howard County” shared how they had incorporated several thousand acres of land conservation programs— the largest percentage in Iowa! They have been the recipients of several awards, including 2021’s National Izaak Walton League’s Conservation Award. We’re super excited to let you know that Neil Shaffer and Hunter Slifka will be updating us on their additional successes during our April 11th Thinking Like a Watershed program.

We’re meeting with them again to learn about their continued progress and contributions over the past two years. Neil and Hunter will share how they monitor the progress of their conservation through water quality data they collect, a way to keep score. Last year they started a their own Podcast “Beyond the Dirt” where they share information and conversation about everything from fishing, water quality, soil health and improving farm landscapes with conservation.

Many of us are not a big sports fans, but many individuals are and so we can make a comparison to Neil and Hunter’s wins for conservation on the landscape to Super Bowl LVII which was held on February 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Arizona. The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles to win 38–35, led by a stellar performance from quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If you’re interested in taking a look at all the accomplishments they achieved two years ago here’s the link:  Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Neil Shaffer & Hunter Slifka— March 2, 2021! Join us for April’s Thinking Like a Watershed program to learn why we consider them Super Bowl material for Iowa’s farmland.

This monthly series is a project of the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) of the Izaak Walton League of America, with co-hosts Christine Curry of UMRI, 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 UMRI’s resource page shortly after they air live.



World Water Day 2023, Know where your water comes from and what’s in it!  Advocate for CLEAN WATER for public health and recreation!  Photo by: Christine Curry



World Water Day, March 22nd—

Recap of “Ecosystem Health of  the Cedar River Watershed in Iowa and Minnesota”

The Cedar River Watershed meanders some 300 miles from Dodge County, Minnesota to Louisa County in southeast Iowa, feeding the Iowa River and then the Mississippi. Its legacy is one of artificial drainage and resulting negative changes to watershed hydrology: crop losses, habitat damage, flooding, sedimentation, mercury, and unmet water quality standards. Its legacy impacts rural and urban landscapes, and therefore the solutions rest in both environments.

Izaak Walton League (IWL) in Iowa and Minnesota/Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI) organized a day of discussions on March 22, 2023 with diverse stakeholder partners and others in the Cedar River watershed. They gathered both in person and some virtually to share information and discussions on World Water Day. Our overarching purpose was to catch us up, (re)meet each other, get educated, and keep moving toward something better for this watershed than the negative impacts on our rural and urban landscapes.

Cedar River Ecosystem 2023 World Water Day, March 22nd at IWL’s Linn County Chapter in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photo by: Christine Curry


IWL’s Dale Braun opened the meeting with introductions of participates and introduced IWL’s National President, Vicki Arnold who welcomed all the participants and gave a brief overview of the League’s history and background on clean water. She extended the League’s commitment to improve our waterways with efforts like this gathering at the IWL’s Linn County’s chapter house.

“Over the past 100 years, the Izaak Walton League of America has been an extraordinary champion and defender of the nation’s soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife. Through member-driven bottom-up governance, we’re protecting outdoor America in communities across the country, while working strategically at the national level to win critical conservation battles.” The IWL stands for: Clean Water, Healthy Soils, Climate Solutions, Community Science and Outdoor Recreation.


Cedar River Ecosystem Panel Discussion Participants March 22, 2023. Photo by: Christine Curry


Outcomes of the meeting included—

The Izaak Walton League and other stakeholder partners are committed to follow up discussions and meetings with action from a diverse network coalition. Braun said “the Linn County Chapter will take the lead to form an organization such as “Cedar River Watershed Association” in order to strengthen the collective efforts to ensure cleaner water for the entire Cedar River.” For more information, Please contact: Dale Braun


More Fabulous Watershed Programs in Central Iowa—

The Des Moines Chapter website is filled with many activities. Bud Hartley is the Communications Director and shares many of our cross pollinated events… Almost every Tuesday evening there is a fabulous program lined up along with a fabulous home cooked meal. Iowa’s IWL State Convention will be held on Earth Day weekend, April 21-22nd at the Des Moines Chapter house. Also on the list is UMRI’s April 11th Thinking Like a Watershed program!  Don’t forget to Register Here!

2023 Farm Bill Matters—

During the past several months we have been participating with the Izaak Walton League’s Agriculture Farm Bill 2023 listening sessions. The resources and current policy platforms from all of the inputs are now available, Click here for all the details:  IWLA 2023 Farm Bill Platform



Learn more—


Previous recorded “Thinking Like a Watershed” programs are available at!

Izaak Walton League provides a fun educational outdoor activity for the entire family…
Learn more here!

The IWL’s history: At the turn of the 20th century, uncontrolled discharges of industrial waste and raw sewage, unrestricted logging, and soil erosion threatened to destroy the nation’s most productive waterways. The country’s forests, wetlands, and wilderness areas were quickly disappearing. In 1922, 54 sportsmen declared that it was “time to call a halt” to this destruction. Aware that action – not just talk – would be necessary to solve these problems, the group decided to form an organization to combat water pollution and protect the country’s woods and wildlife. As a reminder of their purpose, they named the organization after Izaak Walton, the 17th-century English angler-conservationist who wrote the literary classic The Compleat Angler.

“Defenders of Soil, Air, Woods, Waters & Wildlife”

Continue to Stay Safe and Stay Engaged…

Save our Streams—On-line training to become a certified Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Stream monitor

Click Here to learn more about Save Bloody Run

— Izaak Walton League’s Outdoor America articles on line. 

—About water quality monitoring and research, check out The University of Iowa’s Chris Jones blog who has published several articles on where Iowa stands with regards to soil health and water quality.

Iowa Farmers Union Events, check out their amazing weekly webinars…

Iowa Environmental Council’s Event page is packed with fabulous opportunities to learn more from their organization and others.