Conservation Efforts

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

Turkey River Anglers are fishing above and below the whitewater feature.  May 22, 2023, Photo by: Robin Fortney
We are grateful for all the clean water improvements in the Turkey River…we credit the Howard County’s Watershed Coordinators for all their countless hours of dedication with agricultural conservation efforts. To learn more: —Thinking Like a Watershed ~ Local Heroes in Howard County Revisited!, with Neil Shaffer & Hunter Slifka, Watershed Coordinators, Howard County SWCD

Everyday we continue to celebrate nature with our partners and friends in the watershed as we educate and engage our local rural and urban communities about conservation and our environment. Our focus continues to be centered on soil health and clean water. The condition of our water continues to be dire. Is it safe for public health?, drinking water?, and this summer’s recreation activities?

—Our June 13th Thinking Like a Watershed program “Climate Land Leaders in name and deed”
—May 9th’s Recorded link to Thinking program “The Mississippi today, and do we send it away?”
—May 19th’s River Fest Cleanup at Birdland Marina
—May 23rd’s Stream Water Spring Snapshot
—Clean Water Act
—Iowa’s voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy


June Thinking—


Register Here!

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

Climate Land Leaders in name and deed!

How Midwestern landowners are stepping into climate leadership

Sarah Hunt— Program Director, Climate Land Leaders
Ruth Rabinowitz— Climate land leader

“Agriculture is a climate problem — and a climate solution. With compassion, creativity and collaboration, Climate Land Leaders are working toward solutions.”  So states the home page of the Midwest-based Climate Land Leaders (CLL), begun with 15 landowners and farmers and now is ‘home’ to more than 80. Members work together to change their land practices to increase carbon sequestration and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They engage in policy advocacy that shifts public investment to “ecosystem services.”  Habitat, soil health, and agriculture as a solution, not just the problem, define their work using the one tool they alone can wield: the farm and forest land they steward.

Then, things get different. CLL explicitly wants to affect 75,000 acres of Midwestern farm and forest land by December 2024.  Members express their actions as a response to a rapidly changing climate. They think expansively about how to use their resources to address inequities and the next generation of farmers and land stewards. And they are clear – they are in this together. What is it about CLL that works for its members and what is uppermost on their minds this year?

Don’t forget to:  Register Here!


May 9th— Thinking


On May 9th, we featured “The Mississippi today, and do we send it away?” for our Thinking Like a Watershed program. Erin Spry, hydrologist with the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association, shares reports regarding water health and diversion challenges and what we have learned during the past 25 years.

If you missed this extraordinary program, it is well worth your time to watch it…here is the recorded YouTube video link—

Thinking Like a Watershed ~ “The Mississippi today, and do we send it away”, with Erin Spry, hydrologist with the Upper Mississippi River Basin Association

The Upper Mississippi River Basin Association (UMRBA) was established in 1981 as a forum for interstate cooperation and eight years later, the five states of the association (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin) created a charter to conserve the water resources of the Basin. With anticipated demands for Mississippi River water on the horizon, its board now wants an update: an Impacts Assessment that includes a water budget of the river, current water uses and diversions, and water availability, for starters. This would, in practice, help Upper Mississippi River Basin states understand the impacts of individual state water diversion decisions while strengthening the agreement of the states within the Charter.

Informing this scoping work are the recent outcomes of a nearly-30-year assessment of select hydrological and ecological health markers on the Upper Miss. Results include widespread changes in fish communities and precipitation patterns, a decreasing floodplain forest area, and even some good news about water quality. This is the present tense background that Hydrologist Erin Spry of the UMRBA will discuss before circling back to describe what she hopes becomes a timely response to rumors and realities of water diversion.

Additional presentation links include:

The Upper Mississippi River Basin Charter:

The Ecological Status and Trends of the Upper Mississippi River Report:

Five Fact Sheets on the Ecological Status and Trends:

This links you to two-page flyers summarizing the Status and Trends findings on sediment, fish habitat, water quality, floodplain forest areas, and aquatic plants:

Great Lakes Cumulative Impacts Assessment of Withdrawals, Consumptive Uses and Diversions:

Multi-Benefits workshops:

River Fest cleanup at Birdland Marina


Another Iowa treasure, Pat Boddy, and Susan Heathcote love this river stuff! Photo by: Robin Fortney


On May 19th, members of the IWL joined up with Iowa Rivers Revival and ICON Water Trails  as well as several other organizations to clean up the area and share information at Birdland Marina’s River Fest.  UMRI’s Christine Curry and SOS trainer Susan Heathcote shared information about IWL’s Save Our Stream program and signed up several individuals to participate with the nitrate watch program.  Building awareness, educating and amplifying the conservation voice at events like this are key to making positive changes in the watershed.

Susan Heathcote also teaches water quality monitoring classes for team leaders. These photos are some of the aquatic critters she found while looking for benthic macro-organisms before the trash pickup. This is a mayfly larva. May 19, 2023, Photo by: Robin Fortney



—Spring Water Snap shot


Mike Delaney collects water at the “Shiner” stream site. May 23, 2023, Photo by: Curtis Cokeley.  Greene County’s Save Squirrel Hollow water monitoring continues testing 25 sites during May’s Spring Snapshot.

On May 23rd, IWL’s Iowa Conservation Director Mike Delaney coordinated with Linn County’s Dale Braun to participate in the state wide efforts of water monitoring on May 23rd. This was initiated by Polk County Conservation’s efforts to monitor over 100 sites across Polk county to collect data and create a Spring “snapshot” of the health of our waterways. Izaak Walton League’s Save Our Streams program is a fabulous way to engage people outdoors and learn about stream health in our local watersheds. The Linn County Chapter coordinated with other chapter members along the Cedar River throughout Iowa. They organized several other test site locations. The efforts included the Cedar River’s headwaters in Minnesota with Austin Chapter’s Mark Owens taking the lead. To learn more about the efforts, check out Brittney J. Miller’s article from The Gazette.


—Clean Water Matters


Always a great reminder: The Izaak Walton League was founded 100 years ago by anglers who said “it’s time to call a halt to the destruction of our waterways”. We continue to be grateful for the voices who speak the truth and share knowledge and educate our communities about the environment. Thank you to all the nature advocates and writers who continue to make contributions for clean water, healthy soil, climate solutions, public health, community service, and outdoor recreation.


Supreme Court ignores Clean Water Act—


The Izaak Walton League has been advocating for clean water for over 100 years. The League has been at the forefront of National legislation to ensure clean water for all.

“Today the Court has eliminated protections for a vital link of our waterways, with no consideration of wetlands’ essential role in protecting our drinking water, dispersing floodwaters and providing critical habitat for fish and wildlife,” said Jared Mott, Conservation Director for the Izaak Walton League of America.  To learn more:  Click here!


Volunteering in Iowa isn’t working—


Why Iowa’s voluntary Nutrient Reduction Strategy for agriculture conservation is not working!

Click here!— to learn more from this new website dedicated to the details.



2023 Farm Bill—


During the past several months we have been participating with the Izaak Walton League’s Agriculture Farm Bill 2023 listening sessions. Good to know and good to share—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

What you can do?  Our National IWL’s says: “The Farm Bill has enormous impacts on resources that are important to all of us, like healthy food, clean water, and a stable climate. Ask your three members of Congress to support a Farm Bill that improves day-to-day life for every American!”

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.



Learn more—


We’ll continue to amplify conservation voices through our networks in hopes of inspiring others to get involved and take action!

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. 

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.