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Past CRWC Meeting Information

March 31, 2017: Improving the Upper Cedar Watershed – Challenges & Successes

On Friday, March 31, 2017, over 50 supporters from across the Cedar River Watershed convened in Osage to learn about the leadership of local farmers and conservationists in the Upper Cedar Watershed. The meeting blended science, policy, sociology, economics, and even a little country music, to highlight several successful projects and initiatives. We are grateful to the Mitchell County Conservation Board for the use of their facility, Mitchell Soil & Water Conservation District for providing snacks and coffee, Iowa Corn Growers for providing lunch, and each of the speakers for taking time out of their busy spring schedules.

The meeting began with a welcome from the Coalition’s co-chairs, State Senator Rob Hogg and Vern Fish (who recently retired from serving as Executive Director of the Black Hawk Soil & Water Conservation District). Next on the agenda was a panel presentation on Upper Cedar Watershed improvement activities. The Upper Cedar is a hot spot for urban and rural conservation activities aimed at both water quality improvement and flood risk reduction, and the goal of the panel presentation was to highlight some of these efforts. Dennis Carney gave an update on the Upper Cedar Watershed Management Authority, and their efforts to bring together local governments, landowners, and other stakeholders to collaboratively address watershed concerns. Two farmers from the Rock Creek watershed – Wayne Fredericks and Dean Sponheim – inspired the audience with stories of their personal conservation journeys, and shared their advice to conservationists. The panel also included Steve Diers, the City Administrator with the City of Charles City, to describe the City’s investments in green infrastructure within the city boundaries as well as further upstream in the rural areas of the Upper Cedar Watershed. Justin Hanson of the Mower County SWCD, on the other side of the IA – MN border, provided information about the Cedar River Watershed District and the urgent need to address flooding concerns that threaten community infrastructure in Austin, MN.

Dr. Rick Cruse, Director of the Iowa Water Center at Iowa State University, was next on the agenda to provide a sobering look at the impact soil erosion has on farm fields, from both an environmental and an economic standpoint. Dr. Cruse reminded the group that erosion does not just affect hilly areas, but needs to be considered in all farming operations. The audience was both surprised and delighted when Dr. Cruse concluded his talk with a song, advising mammas not to let their babies grow up to be plow-boys. Move over, Waylon & Willie… what a treat!

For those farmers and conservationists who wanted to understand more about nitrate losses from farm tile outlets, Ben Gleason, Sustainable Program Manager at Iowa Corn Growers, distributed Retain toolkits that contain test strips for on-site nitrate testing. For more information about this program, visit

Following lunch, the conversation focused on Iowa’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Judith Krebsbach, the CREP coordinator at Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, gave an overview of the CREP program. As of 2014, 72 CREP wetlands had been completed with another 23 in the works. Dr. Chris Jones, a researcher at the University of Iowa (IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering) followed up with information about continuous water monitoring data at the Slough Creek CREP wetland, near Orchard in the Upper Cedar watershed.

Meeting participants then had the chance to visit the Slough Creek wetland, which is the second-largest CREP wetland in the state. As if to demonstrate that CREP wetlands provide not just nutrient removal benefits but also important wildlife habitat, a cloud of snow geese greeted the visitors upon arrival. The Slough Creek wetland is on the property of the Stricker family, and several family members were present to share their first-hand experiences working with the CREP program and other partners.

The Upper Cedar Watershed demonstrates that through partnerships among farmers, agricultural groups, conservationists, and urban watershed neighbors, it is possible to achieve our goals of reduced flood risk and improved water quality. Each of us has the opportunity to take ownership of our own piece of the watershed puzzle, whether it be to implement practices on our residential or agricultural property, participate in a watershed improvement project, or simply as taxpayers – many water quality projects would not be possible without the strong backing of state and federal cost-share programs.

Agenda: 3-31-17 Agenda

Press Release: MediaRelease 3-31-17

October 28, 2016: Renewed Urgency in the Cedar River Watershed

The Cedar River Watershed Coalition’s last meeting, held in Parkersburg on October 28, was attended by over 60 people and was topped off by a tour of the impressive Big Marsh in Butler County. The meeting agenda is here: 10-28-16 Updated Agenda

One of the participants was Melissa Miller, Associate Director of the Iowa Water Center, who wrote up a recap of the meeting on the IWC blog. It’s here:

Orlan Love of The Gazette also covered the meeting, his story on the benefits of the Big Marsh wetland complex is here:

Thanks to the City of Parkersburg for hosting our event, and to the many new and familiar faces that attended the meeting.

June 10, 2016: Getting Involved in Your Watershed

The Cedar River Watershed Coalition Meeting held its spring meeting on Friday, June 10th from 1:00 pm  – 4:00 pm in Grundy Center. This was the Coalition’s first official meeting in Grundy County, and highlighted the many activities that are currently underway in the Middle Cedar Watershed. The goal was to identify different ways that local residents, landowners, producers, city & county staff, and any others can get involved in watershed efforts.

The meeting included 45 participants, with a number of new participants from Grundy County. Other entities represented included city and county staff and elected officials, state agencies, councils of government, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and interested citizens. Several landowners and producers were also in attendance.

Date & Time: Friday, June 10th 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Location: Kling Memorial Library, Grundy Center (708 7th Street)

The meeting summary is here: June 10, 2016 Meeting Summary

To watch videos of the presentations, visit

November 13, 2015: Floodplain Management in the Cedar River Watershed

Date: Friday, November 13, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: City of Cedar Falls Public Works (2200 Technology Pkwy, Cedar Falls, IA 50613)

The Fall Meeting of the Cedar River Watershed Coalition focused on floodplain management in urban & rural areas. There was a welcome address from Director Schouten of Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and a panel discussed tools and resources for managing floodplains and other flood-impacted lands. In addition, there was a bus tour of flood buy-out properties in Cedar Falls & Waterloo.

Thank you to the Cities of Cedar Falls & Waterloo for providing the bus for the tour.

The full agenda is available here: Fall Meeting Agenda

March 20, 2015: Bus Tour of Agricultural Conservation Practices in the Cedar River Watershed

Over 70 people attended the Coalition’s bus tour on a windy Friday afternoon in Black Hawk and Benton Counties to learn first-hand about actions farmers are taking to reduce pollution from their farm fields. The bus tour was generously sponsored by Iowa State University Extension with funding from the Sustainable Corn Initiative. A lunch was provided by Iowa Corn Growers, and the Black Hawk County Conservation Board donated the use of the lodge at Hickory Hills Park.

Bioreactor site at Lanehaven Farms

Bioreactor site at Lanehaven Farms (Photo by Jeff Tisl)

Media coverage of the event:

The bus tour locations and speakers included:

  • Visit to a Denitrification Bioreactor (Speakers: Chad Ingels and Aaron Folkman, On-Farm Agronomist for Lanehaven Farms)
  • Visit to a strip till/no-till operation, with discussion on stream buffers and cover crop strip trials (Speaker: Nicholas Meier, Producer)
  • Sean McMahon, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, spoke about farmer-led efforts to improve water quality
  • Steve Hersher, City of Cedar Rapids, provided an update on the Middle Cedar Regional Conservation Partnership Project (funded through USDA’s new RCPP program)
  • Sandy Pumphrey, City of Cedar Rapids, spoke about the City’s efforts to mitigate and educate about flash flooding, as well as the City’s involvement in the Indian Creek Watershed Management Authority
  • Visit to a farm to learn about cover crop mixes (Speaker: Ben Fehl, Producer and Wayne Siela, Producer)
  • Visit to a water monitoring site at a natural wetland/marsh (Speaker: Adam Kiel, ISA)

November 21, 2014: Selling the Practices that Work

This meeting was hosted by the City of Waverly at the Waverly Civic Center, and included a bus tour of Waverly’s flood mitigation activities prior to the meeting.

The Cedar Rapids Gazette featured a story on Waverly’s flood mitigation projects with photos from the bus tour. It’s here:

Other meeting highlights included:

  • A welcome message from Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett and Waverly Mayor Charles Infelt
  • Eileen Bader of The Nature Conservancy and Mayor Jim Erb of Charles City provided an overview of a pilot project to identify areas where investing in conservation can provide multiple benefits for flood mitigation, pollutant reduction, and species protection using the RIOS mapping tool
  • Lucy Hershberger of Forever Green in Coralville provided an overview of ways that urban homeowners and business owners can reduce runoff from their properties, using practices such as rain gardens and soil quality restoration
  • Representatives from the Rock Creek Watershed Project in Mitchell County talked about practices such as strip-till no-till that can help to reduce the environmental impacts of farming. An additional story on these practices in the Rock Creek Watershed from the Des Moines Register is here.

If you were unable to attend the meeting but would like to see a video of the presentations, you can visit

The Cedar River in Waverly

The Cedar River in Waverly


April 1, 2014: Improve Your Soil, Help the Cedar River

Ray Archuleta speaks at the Cedar River Watershed Coalition meeting on 4/1/14

Ray Archuleta speaks at the Cedar River Watershed Coalition meeting on 4/1/14

Ray Archuleta, a soil scientist from USDA-NRCS, was the highlight of the Coalition’s April 1, 2014 meeting at the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Energy and Environmental Education. Over 60 people attended, including farmers, local decision makers, concerned citizens, watershed planners, and students. Ray motivated the audience with his stirring lecture on healthy soils. As he put it, “The soil is naked, hungry, thirsty, and running a fever” and many left the room inspired to take the next step.

The value of healthy soils in the Cedar River Watershed cannot be overstated. According to NRCS, healthy soils can infiltrate and hold 2 – 3 times more water than conventionally tilled fields. Every 1% increase in soil organic matter can provide up to 25,000 gallons in soil moisture

From agricultural landowners to homeowners to local businesses, we can all do something to help the Cedar River Watershed by improving our soils.

If you could not make the April 1 event, check out the video “Under Cover Farmers,” an excellent production featuring Ray Archuleta and farmers utilizing cover crops:

Last modified on January 12th, 2018
Posted on April 19th, 2017