Implementation of Iowa's Wetland and Riparian Area Conservation Plan

National Wetlands Month media event

28 May 1999

Jim Gulliford explains tree plantings




Press release

Secretary Judge Celebrates Wetlands Month and Releases New Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan

Des Moines: After more than two years of preparation, a comprehensive state plan for Iowa's wetlands and riparian areas has been released, just in time for National Wetlands Month in May. The new Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan (IWRACP) was highlighted today by Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge and others in Madison County at the site of a private wetland restoration near Earlham.

Here, landowner Bill Hunter turned a cropped field into a small wetland that now filters runoff from pastures and croplands above before the water reaches an adjacent creek, and eventually the Des Moines River above Lake Red Rock. The area provides wildlife habitat, and also helps store water on the landscape, which can help reduce flood potential. These benefits are some of the reasons to protect and restore wetlands functions discussed in the 100-page IWRACP document and its 6-page summary.

"We applaud Mr. Hunter, and other conservation-minded landowners and farmers around this state for projects like this one. The Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan supports their efforts. It is meant to serve as a vision document to help coordinate the activities of government agencies, private organizations and individuals with diverse interests in wetlands to encourage conservation, enhancement, restoration and construction of these types of areas," says Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge, adding that the new plan does not promote any new regulations at the state or federal levels.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship's Division of Soil Conservation (IDALS-DSC) provided the leadership to develop the IWRACP, working with professors at Iowa State University and others. More than 125 Iowans representing individuals, agencies, and organizations have also signed on to the plan, which has been has been endorsed by the office of Governor Tom Vilsack.

James B. Gulliford, director of the Division of Soil Conservation (DSC) at IDALS, was in charge of administering the planning effort. He says he is proud of the broad array of interests that shaped the document, which calls for such actions as better coordination of government programs, improved information and education efforts, and continuing and increasing support for programs that protect, restore, and create wetlands.

As a result, Gulliford says, his division has just approved new cost-share type financial incentives that can be used to restore or construct wetlands and stabilize streambanks. These state incentives, available through the Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) program, will be available beginning in mid-June to landowners in participating soil and water conservation districts. The new cost share options can complement other programs, such as the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service sponsored Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), which has been responsible for more than 83,000 acres of wetlands restorations in Iowa.

The restoration numbers are impressive, but wetland acreages restored in the WRP and protected by other programs, such as easements and purchases conducted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, county conservation boards, and private organizations are never expected to approach the estimated 3.5 million acres of Iowa wetlands lost since the state was settled. Iowa historically has had one of the highest rates of wetlands loss nationwide (an estimated 89 to 95 percent) and riparian areas have also undergone extensive changes and degradation. The Iowa Wetlands and Riparian Areas Conservation Plan acknowledges that in many cases, these changes have benefited Iowans and the state's economy, but the report details some of the costs associated with these changes and suggests that, at this time, balance is needed between conservation and development.

Copies of the IWRACP and its summary are available for free from DSC-IDALS, Wallace Bldg., Des Moines, IA, 50319, ATTN: Ann Robinson. They are also available on-line at a new website being developed at Iowa State University,


Secretary Judge, landowner Bill Hunter, and Jon Judson

Landowner Bill Hunter and Secretary Judge

Landowner Bill Hunter

Explaining riparian conservation

Bill Hunter and Ken Herring

Jim Munson asks Bill Hunter a question

Secretary Judge at the wetland

Panorama of the wetland and riparian zone (click here for an enlargement)

Newspaper article

The Tribune, Ames, Iowa, Saturday, June 5, 1999, page B2

ISU professors help develop wetlands plan for the state

BY DIANE HELDT, Staff Writer

Two Iowa State University professors were the lead researchers in developing a wetlands plan for the state that was released this week by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Paul Anderson, an ISU associate professor with a joint appointment in landscape architecture and agronomy, and Julia Badenhope, an assistant professor of landscape architecture, were the primary researchers on the plan.

The comprehensive plan for Iowa's wetlands was created to provide a common framework for various groups and individuals that work with those areas, Anderson said.

About five years ago, a graduate student in the ISU Design College went to a regional wetlands meeting sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency. He discovered that Iowa was the only state in the EPA region that hadn't started or completed a state wetlands plan, Anderson said. The student recruited a few professors, including Anderson and Badenhope, to work with him on securing EPA and ISU funding to establish a wetlands plan, Anderson said. But soon after that, the student received a fellowship to Harvard. That's when Anderson and Badenhope took over as the lead researchers.

"We've been working on this a long time," Anderson said. "It's been a project many years in the making."

More than 100 people from 25 federal, state and local agencies were involved in developing the wetlands plan, Anderson said

"It's a strategic plan that identifies the issues that need to be addressed in Iowa," he said.

The plan identifies priorities for wetlands in Iowa; needs for communication and education; needs for a clearinghouse of information; the research that has been done, and research that needs to be done, Anderson said.

"It does not specify precisely where wetlands are or have been or should be or precisely what kind of wetlands there should be in Iowa," he said. "Rather, it talks more about what activities, procedures, and information need to be in place."

Some goals identified in the plan, including setting up a Web site devoted to Iowa wetlands and beginning brown-bag lunch discussions on the subject, have already been completed [started], Anderson said.

"There are things we implemented [started] even as we were working on [finishing] the plan," he said. "It's nice to have this plan out there and endorsed by different groups and agencies. It's been fun for us to see how it has influenced people's thinking and the way people do things."

Paul Anderson's home page

Last update: 8 June 99