Restoration

TU Driftless team makes progress in Iowa in 2020

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic 2020 was a busy year for Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort in Iowa. TU and its partners collaborated on a number of habitat restoration projects in the state. Here's a rundown of the…

Despite challenges posed by the pandemic 2020 was a busy year for Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort in Iowa. TU and its partners collaborated on a number of habitat restoration projects in the state. Here’s a rundown of the projects.

North Bear Creek – In January 2020, the Iowa DNR acquired from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation 115 acres containing a 0.25-mile section of North Bear Creek. This is an important property since it borders a county road and allows access to public lands further downstream. The project was partially funded through a $200,000 Neotropical Migratory Bird Grant secured by the DNR with support letters and match contributions from multiple partner groups. 

Little Paint Creek – In February 2020, Iowa DNR was informed that they had received a State Land Grant to improve water quality in Little Paint Creek. The grant provided $55,000 to be used for streambank stabilization and reshaping along 1,400 feet of stream. The Driftless Flyathlon provided a match for the grant allowing the project to move forward. Additionally, the Trout Program staff, and Iowa’s Coldwater Conservancy members applied for, and received, a grant from the Trout and Salmon Foundation to support additional instream habitat restoration as part of the larger project. Today, project planning continues with groundbreaking expected in spring 2021. 

Upper Iowa, Yellow, and Little Maquoketa watersheds – Iowa DNR worked with staff from Iowa State University to finalize the results of the Iowa cold water stream inventory project that sampled headwater streams in the Upper Iowa, Yellow, and Little Maquoketa watersheds. The work was summarized in an Iowa State University thesis by Brett Kelly titled “Spatial Distribution and Ecological Relationships of Stream Fishes in Iowa’s Driftless Area.” 

Bloody Run Creek – Iowa DNR working with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, reached out in 2019 to secure angler contributions to help acquire a 165-acre addition to the Bloody Run Wildlife Management Area. The parcel included a 0.6 – mile segment of Bloody Run Creek that supports natural reproduction of Brown Trout and is managed under the artificial lures only and 14-inch minimum length limit for Brown Trout. Contributions from several groups were collected in early 2020 and the property transferred to the Iowa DNR in June 2020. Since then, a new parking lot access point has been developed, providing angler access on the west end of the management area. 

Ten Mile Creek – Iowa DNR working with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, reached out in late 2019 to secure angler contributions to leverage as a 25 percent match for a State of Iowa Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Grant. The match provided by several partners allowed the Foundation to apply for, and receive, a grant used to purchase a future addition to the Falcon Springs Wildlife Management Area. The parcel contains about 1,000 feet of Ten Mile Creek and is the first public access area on that stream. The parcel is expected to transfer to the Iowa DNR in 2021. 

Waterloo Creek, Canoe Creek and West Canoe Creek – Partnering with Iowa DNR Engineering and Wildlife Staff, the Trout Program funded a new angler parking area along Waterloo Creek, just upstream of Dorchester, as well as new parking lots along Canoe Creek and West Canoe Creek, streams included in the Seed Savers Exchange Angler Access Easement. These lots will provide easier and safer access for anglers. 

Yellow River – During 2019 and spring 2020, Trout Program staff worked with NRCS staff to develop a streambank stabilization plan for a portion of the Yellow River. This section of stream was protected with an Angler Access Easement in 2018. As part of the project, several boulder clusters and rock weirs were installed in addition to streambank shaping during summer 2020.  

Trout Run – Iowa DNR partnered with Winneshiek County Conservation to stabilize the stream bank along a universal angler access on Trout Run near Decorah. 

North Bear Creek – Iowa DNR finalized an Angler Access Easement along North Bear Creek. This easement will protect angler access on about 1,600 feet of the creek while protecting about 5.3 acres of stream corridor. This easement is immediately downstream of the Lane Angler Access Easement that was secured in 2019. 

Big Mill Creek (Include link to before and after pictures) – Iowa DNR working with a contractor excavated 30,000 cubic yards of post-settlement alluvium from the near-stream floodplain along a 1,250-foot stream section within the Big Mill Wildlife Management area with the goal of improving stream stability, decreasing non-point pollution, and enhancing fishing and hunting access. 

Spring Branch Creek – Iowa DNR working with a contractor along Spring Branch Creek in Delaware County, used stone-toe protection with native limestone to reduce streambank erosion along 350 feet of Spring Branch Creek adjacent to the Manchester Fish Hatchery. The goal of this project was to improve aquatic habitat while halting encroachment onto neighboring private property. 

Maquoketa River – Iowa DNR partnered with a private landowner, a farm management consultant, an agricultural renter, and the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association to fund and develop a paddock grazing system on a portion of the upper Maquoketa River under permanent water quality and angler access easement. The goal of this project is to provide a managed grazing system to reduce streamside cattle access, improve streambank stability, and improve water quality and aquatic habitat for trout. 

Mill Creek – Iowa DNR received a water quality and angler access easement from the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation during April 2020 along Mill Creek. This 150-foot-wide fishing corridor easement includes 0.6 miles (3,295 feet) of Mill Creek and is located about one-half mile upstream of the Big Mill Wildlife Management Area. The fishing easement on Mill Creek is open for public fishing only and closed to all other activities. 

Iowa 2021 Plans 

Iowa DNR began the process to acquire a second portion of Angler Access Easement along the Yellow River on the Dianne Rissman Farm. The easement will provide perpetual angler access to 0.69 miles of the Yellow River while protecting 15.3 acres of stream corridor. For the first time ever, angling group partners stepped up to cover the entire cost of the easement acquisition totaling $42,450. Before moving forward, the acquisition needs to be approved by the Iowa Natural Resource Commission at their January 2021 meeting. Once approved, the expected final closing is in early 2021. 

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