Lower Skunk River watershed project gets funding for three more years

On July 1, the Lower Skunk River Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative Project was funded to continue its efforts in water quality and soil health for an additional three-years. The Lower Skunk River Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative supports the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy and the Iowa Water Quality Initiative by working with producers in the project area to implement conservation practices.

The project demonstrates and accelerates the adoption of conservation practices that have been proven to be most effective in reducing nitrate-N and phosphorus-P in streams, providing cost share assistance to implement practices such as cover crops, bioreactors, saturated buffers, wetlands, and terraces implemented with alternative tile outlets.

The project has expanded its original area into Henry and Lee counties, adding Des Moines county for the first time. The previous project area included parts of Henry, Lee, Jefferson and Van Buren counties, totaling approximately 135,000 acres with 46 percent of those acres in row crop. The expansion of the project will bring roughly 204,000 acres, making the total project area nearly 339,000 acres, increasing the farmable acres to almost 70 percent. This will provide more than $6 million in funding opportunities including state, partner and farmer contributions to implement conservation practices in southeast Iowa.

Said Miranda Haes, LSR project coordinator, “By expanding the project area we are able to build on what we have learned over the past six years, creating momentum and increasing the use of nutrient management practices, benefiting not only Southeast Iowa water quality and soil health goals, but also the entire state.”

Farmer participation has increased nearly doubled since the beginning in 2014. To date there have been 14,378 acres of cover crops implemented, nearly 170,000 feet of terraces built, three alternative tile outlets, a saturated buffer, a bioreactor, a wetland creation, and three grade stabilization structures installed.

For more information on the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy, Water Quality Initiative, and the Lower Skunk River Water Quality and Soil Health Initiative, visit or contact Miranda Haes at 319-385-2824, Ext. 3.