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Sellers and Shanks receive conservation award at State Fair
John Sellers of Corydon and Martha Shanks of Derby received a special conservation award during a ceremony at the 2017 Iowa State Fair on August 15.
The award was given by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and was presented by IDNR Deputy Director, Bruce Trautman. The award was part of the DNR's Celebration of Conservation Day.
The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance nominated the two. Sellers is a long time conservationist in Wayne County and Martha Shanks was recognized in 2010 as a Rathbun Lake Protector.
Shanks

When Gene Shanks passed away in the spring of 2003, Martha, says she decided to carry on with as much of the farming operation as she was able. While not previously involved in the farm’s management, Martha and Gene shared the same goals, including soil and water conservation.
To learn as much as she could about how to farm the land, Martha went to field days and workshops, and contacted the Lucas County NRCS Field Office to ask as many questions as was necessary to get the information she needed. It has been said that Martha’s willingness to ask as many questions as it takes to get the answers that has led to a number of successful conservation practices carried out on her land.
She installed of 20,475 feet of terraces resulting in sediment reduction to Rathbun Lake by 320 tons per year and 1,739 pounds of phosphorus annually. She installed four basins further reducing sediment loss by 41 tons per year and 205 pounds of phosphorous annually to the lake. She has also installed 3 waterways, and has used cover crops as well as is looking at using them in the future as a forage source for her cattle.
She also participated in the summer incentive program and set aside 85 acres for conservation construction. With the help of her son, Wesley, they raise 85 acres of hay and maintain an 80 head Angus-cross cow herd.
Sellers

Sellers says conservation has been the cornerstone of his life. “My dad built the first terraces in Union Township back in the 1950s and I was elected to take over his seat on the SWCD board back in 1973.” Prior to his recent retirement, he practiced no-till farming, installed grassed waterways, seeded highly erodible land, and built seven structures on his farm which is mainly forages.
As part of his love of the land, he hosted field days on his farm and served on many state and national level boards and commissions including the Hay and Forage Advisory Board, Iowa Forage and Grassland Council, Leopold Center Advisory Board, Governor’s Energy Task Force, State Technical Committee for NRCS and in 1981 was named outstanding district commissioner.

Rathbun Lake Protectors Receive Award at State Fair

Gov. Kim Reynolds, Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp presented the Mitteness family with their award along with 80 other Iowa farm families. 

The award is a joint effort between the Office of the Governor, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to recognize the efforts of Iowa’s farmers as environmental leaders committed to health soils and improved water quality.

“This award seeks to recognize the exemplary voluntary actions of farmers to improve and protect the environment and natural resources of our state,” Gov. Reynolds said. “It also encourages other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building success upon success.”

“This award program is in its sixth year,” Lt. Gov. Gregg said. “To date, more than 450 families have received recognition. That number is a testament to the hard work our farmers are doing in and for our state.”

“Iowa is a national leader in conservation and water quality efforts,” Sec. Northey said. “These awards are an opportunity to recognize the farmers who are leading the way and highlight the significant investment they are making to better care for our air, soil and water.”

“We are honored to take part in recognizing some of Iowa’s best farmers who instill common practices to protect our natural resources,” Dir. Gipp said. “We hope that by recognizing the great work these farmers are doing, it will encourage others to follow suit and help protect the environment.”

The winners of this year’s Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award were presented a certificate as well as a yard sign donated by Monsanto and a commemorative program provided by the Iowa Ag Water Alliance. Hagie Manufacturing sponsored a recognition luncheon following the ceremony. Bob Quinn from WHO served as the Master of Ceremony.

All winners were chosen by a selection group representing both agricultural and conservation groups.

The selection group that approved the 2017 winners included:
·         Jim Gillespie, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
·         Bruce Trautman, Iowa Department of Natural Resources
·         Jim Frederick, Conservation Districts of Iowa
·         Jay Harmon, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
·         Sean McMahon, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance
·         David De Geus, The Nature Conservancy
·         Jeff Pape, Iowa Farm Bureau
·         Dennis Friest, Iowa Corn Growers Association
·         Wayne Fredericks, Iowa Soybean Association
·         Shelia Larson, Iowa Turkey Federation
·         Dan Wetherell, Iowa Pork Producers Association
·         Katie Oltoff, Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.




 Pictured L-R: Iowa DNR Director, Chuck Gipp; Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; Wayne County Rathbun Lake Protectors, Page and Rick Mitteness and their grandson, Thor; Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds; and Lt Governor Adam Gregg. 

Rick and Page have been farming for 32 years. They grow corn and soybeans and seed down their remaining farmland in waterways, pasture, and hay and maintain five miles of field borders. They maintain a 150 head cow/calf operation and sell calves in the fall. The Mitteness family cares about keeping the soil on their farm and protecting water quality and want their conservation practices to be evidence of that.

They operate a rotational grazing system and run a corn, bean, and hay rotation and have installed five grade stabilization structures and installed 4,000 feet of terraces.

Rick has served on the Wayne County Fair Board, is a Farm Bureau member, a member of the Wayne County Cattlemen, and was sheep superintendent for 20 years. Rick and Page received the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award in 2016.

The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance recognized the Mitteness family as Rathbun Lake Protectors in 2016 and were happy to nominate them for the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award.  
Pictured L-R: Iowa DNR Director, Chuck Gipp; Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey; Clarke County Rathbun Lake Protectors, Marilyn and Robert Arndorfer; Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds; and Lt Governor Adam Gregg.  


Robert and Marilyn Arndorfer were selected as Rathbun Lake Protectors in 2016 and the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance was happy to nominate the Arndorfers for this award. The Rathbun Lake Protector award recognizes landowners for their stewardship practices that protect the drinking water source for 80,000 people.

The Arndorfers farm 800 acres in southern Iowa and are predominantly hay and soybean farmers.

The couple has cooperated with the Clarke county soil and water conservation district since 1989 and have completed either a state cost share construction project or ACP project each year from 1987 through 1999.


They were one of the first Clarke county landowners to participate with the Rathbun land and water alliance in 2005 to install terraces and basins on their farm. The commitment continues to as the couple has completed additional terrace work on their farm. 


Hunter Brothers receive Good Farm Neighbor Award

Mike and Laurie Hunter and Nick and Alyse Hunter of Chariton were presented the Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award at Mike and Laurie’s farm on Wednesday May 24.

The award is named in memory of Gary Wergin, a long-time WHO Radio farm broadcaster who created the award, and is given by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, and WHO Radio’s The Big Show.

Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, was on hand to present the award, which recognizes Iowa livestock farmers who take pride in doing things right, and go above and beyond as environmental stewards and animal caretakers.

“While it is a tremendous pleasure to be here today, Secretary Northey sends both his congratulations and his regrets as he couldn’t attend today as intended due to the gubernatorial transition ceremonies,” said Naig.

“Presenting this award gives us a chance to talk about the positive stories that are happening in agriculture, about responsible livestock farming in Iowa, and highlight the families who make it so successful,” Naig added. “I present this award on behalf of the coalition, the secretary, WHO Radio, in recognition of your commitment and dedication to the care of your livestock, community, and the environment.”

In receiving the award, Nick Hunter said the award is a great recognition but neither he or his brother Mike like having the accolades for what they do on their farm. “We got the good farm neighbor award, but basically we are neighbors to a lot of good farmers. That is really the award we feel we got.” Nick says.

Naig also recognized Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President, John Glenn, who nominated the Hunter families. “The Alliance is doing tremendous conservation work in this area for Rathbun Lake and is a model for what we can do in other parts of the state,” said Naig.

The Hunters farm together on a heifer development program and have a cow-calf operation.  They also raise corn, soybeans and hay and have a Christmas tree farm, selling about 700 trees each year. Their conservation works includes the installation of two sediment basins, 200 acres of filter strips along the Chariton River, nearly 20,000 feet of terraces, the use of contour farming, crop rotation, no-till and cover crops. 

In addition to the Good Farm Neighbor Award, the family has been recognized by the Natural Heritage Foundation and received the Rathbun Lake Protector Award for their conservation work.
The brothers are also very active in the community and have been involved in the Lucas County Cattlemen, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Soybean Association Board of Directors, Trees Forever, Chariton School Board, Lucas County Fair Board and 4-H Youth Committee.

As part of the event, The Big Show host, Bob Quinn, conducted a live broadcast of his show at the Hunter farm and interviewed the Hunter brothers about their operation as well as the award nominator, John Glenn, president of the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, Iowa State University Extension Beef Specialist, Joe Sellers, and Brian Waddingham, Executive Director of the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers.

 Iowa Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Naig, Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award recipients, Nick and Alyse Hunter, Mike and Laurie Hunter, and Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President, John Glenn.

Bob Quinn, center, interviews Gary Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award recipients Nick (left) and Mike Hunter, and award nominator, Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President, John Glenn.

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Environmental Specialist, Velvet Buckingham, who coordinates Rathbun Lake protection activities for the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance's Protect Rathbun Lake Project, attended the first session of Agronomy in the Field for Women. It was held on April 19, at McNay Memorial Research and Demonstration Farm south of Chariton. Participants learned about how to incorporate cover crops into an operation, their grazing potential, and how to terminate them in the spring.Agronomy in the Field for Women
The next session is set for May 17, from 5 to 6:30 at the McNay Research Farm, with the topic of corn and soybean planting, staging corn and soybeans, and taking stand counts. Sessions will also be held in June, July, and August. Topics to be covered at future sessions include forage and pasture management; pest management and identification (weeds, insects, and diseases), and water quality.

This series is designed to be hands-on and conducted in the field to see real-time conditions. Each session will be approximately an hour and a half long; you do not need to commit for the entire season to attend. There is no charge for this series, but please register online at http://eepurl.com/cw1tA9 or by contacting Extension Field Agronomist, Rebecca Vittetoe at rka8@iastate.edu or 319-653-4811.
Agronomy in the Field is sponsored by ISU Extension and Outreach in cooperation with NCR-SARE Partnership Grant Project ONC17-031. Local support is provided by Lucas, Marion, Monroe, Warren, and Wayne County Extension.


Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Board member, Kevin Luedtke, hosted a visit to the Rathbun Lake Watershed by Jamie Konopacky with the Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative in Cambridge, MA. 


Konopacky (left) discusses watershed policy development with Kevin Luedtke (right), Marty Braster, (middle) and Ralph Alshouse (far left) when she visited the Luedtke farm on Thursday, April 13. Konopacky traveled to area to obtain research to help identify and promote the development of the integrated watershed policy programming that can effectively restore nutrient impaired waterbodies. "I focus on making HUC 12 watershed plans the building blocks of watershed planning and evolving and aligning policies, data, and funding to support effective planning at that scale," she said. Her research focus is on the Farm Bill conservation and Clean Water Act programs and also on evolving Farm Bill conservation and state CWA programming with the focus on 319, MS4 and TMDL programming.

 Water Quality Funding Available in 5 Select Iowa Watersheds

DES MOINES, IOWA, Jan. 23, 2017—Iowa farmers in five select watersheds are encouraged to apply for conservation assistance through USDA’s National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI). The deadline for available funding is March 17.
The practices available for financial assistance will help improve water quality in the local watershed and beyond. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Initiative, and offers higher than normal payment rates for implementing practices such as cover crops, grassed waterways, prescribed grazing, livestock facilities, and nutrient management.
Farmers in the following Iowa watersheds are eligible for NWQI special funding this year:
  • Badger Creek Lake (parts of Madison, Dallas and Warren Counties)
  • Headwaters Wolf Creek (parts of Wayne and Lucas Counties)
  • Lost Branch-Chariton River (parts of Wayne and Lucas Counties)
  • Lower South Fork Chariton River (parts of Appanoose and Wayne Counties)
  • Wall Lake Inlet/Black Hawk Lake (parts of Sac and Carroll Counties)

NRCS worked closely with state and local conservation partners to select the priority watersheds. State agencies, key partners and technical experts chose the five watersheds where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to improve water quality.In 2016, landowners in Iowa received $620,200 to implement water quality improving practices. If you farm in one of these watersheds, contact your local NRCS for more information or visit the Iowa NRCS website at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.
Seated at table counter clockwise: RRWA CEO and RLWA President, John Glenn; Appanoose County SWCD Commissioner and RLWA Board Member, Chuck Moore; NRCS State Conservationist, Kurt Simon;  IDALS Field Services Bureau Chief, Vince Sitzmann; Lucas County SWCD Commissioner and RLWA Board Member, Kevin Luedtke; Appanoose County SWCD Conservationist, Margaret Cope; Lucas County Environmental Specialist, Brian DeMoss, Environmental Specialist, Velvet Buckingham, and RRWA Environmental Management Specialist, Marty Braster.  

Pictured L-R: RRWA CEO and RLWA President, John Glenn; Lucas County producers Kevin and Lori Luedtke; IDALS Field Services Bureau Chief, Vince Sitzmann; NRCS State Conservationist, and Kurt Simon are pictured in front of one of the large grade stabilization structures installed on the Luedtke farm that protects Rathbun Lake. 

RRWA Superintendent, Jer Buckingham (right) provides information about the new water treatment facility during Iowa Conservationist Kurt Simon's visit to the Rathbun Lake Watershed.

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DeMoss Visits Albia Fifth Grade Classes 
Protect Rathbun Lake Coordinator, Brian DeMoss visited the fifth grade classes of Albia Elementary School to discuss the importance of conservation. He presented a demonstration comparing no-till, tilled fields, and native grass plantings. The students were able to build terraces and ponds and plant trees using playdoh in the areas they believed needed the structures. 

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2016 Rathbun Lake Protectors were recognized September 22 at the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance's "Farm to Faucet Landowner Appreciation" held at Rathbun Regional Water Association's new water treatment plant. (Pictured L-R) Clarke County Robert and Marilyn Arndorfer, Lucas County Walter Faulconer, Wayne County Rick and Page Mitteness, Wayne County Ricky and Mary Davis, and Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President and Rathbun Regional Water Association CEO, John Glenn.


The Iowa EPC tours Rathbun Lake Watershed and Rathbun Regional Water Association 


Pictured in the control room of Rathbun Regional Water Association's
new water treatment facility are Iowa Environmental Protection Commission members,
Iowa DNR head and representatives,
Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners, and the staff of
Rathbun Land and Water Alliance and
Rathbun Regional Water Association. 

  
The Iowa EPC meets monthly in Des Moines and selected the Rathbun Lake Watershed as one of the two annual tours the group makes to learn more about environmental projects in the state. Four landowners who farm in the Rathbun Lake Watershed shared their conservation practices with the commission members. 
Pictured left to right are Dick and Connie Hines, Decatur County; Kevin Luedtke, Lucas County; Chuck Moore, Appanoose County, and Jim and Betty Sullivan, representing Clarke and Decatur Counties. 

 Jer Buckingham, RRWA Superintendent, shows tour participants the new water treatment facility.

Jim and Betty Sullivan explain how they utilized Iowa Low Interest Loan Program available through the Iowa Water Quality State Revolving Fund to implement terrace construction.

 Jer Buckingham, RRWA Superintendent explains the raw water intake from Rathbun Lake.

 Dick and Connie Hines of Decatur County explain the terraces they installed on their farm without cost share.

Kevin Luedtke, Lucas County, shows the EPC where his farm is located in the Rathbun Lake Watershed

Chuck Moore, Appanoose County, shared what he learned about what works and what doesn't with his cattle operation and watering systems.
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USDA Announces Water Quality Funding for Southern Iowa Watershed

Landowners in Headwaters Wolf Creek Watershed Have Until April 15 to Apply
CORYDON, IOWA, Feb. 26, 2016—USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial assistance to landowners in the Headwaters Wolf Creek Watershed in southern Iowa to implement conservation practices that improve water quality. The signup deadline is April 15.
The Headwaters Wolf Creek Watershed covers a small portion of northwest Wayne County and southwest Lucas County. NRCS worked closely with state and local conservation partners to select the new priority watershed. State agencies, key partners and technical experts chose Headwaters Wolf Creek, where on-farm conservation investments have the best chance to improve water quality.
Through USDA’s National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), eligible farmers receive higher than normal payment rates on such practices as nutrient management, cover crops, terraces, water and sediment control basins, filter strips, as well as forage and grassland practices.
Four other small Iowa watersheds will receive their third year of USDA-NWQI funding in 2016. The next signup deadline for these projects is March 18. These watersheds include:
·         Badger Creek (sections of Madison, Dallas and Warren Counties)
·         Lost Branch-Chariton River (sections of Wayne and Lucas Counties)
·         Lower South Fork Chariton River (sections of Appanoose and Wayne Counties)
·         Wall Lake Inlet/Black Hawk Lake (sections of Sac and Carroll Counties)

Nationally, NRCS will fund $25 million in assistance to farmers and ranchers in 187 priority watersheds who voluntarily implement conservation practices on their land to improve water quality. In 2015, landowners in Iowa’s four NWQI watersheds received $629,000 to implement water quality improving practices.

For more information about the Headwaters Wolf Creek Watershed project, call or visit the local USDA Service Centers in Corydon or Chariton. You can also visit the Iowa NRCS website at www.ia.nrcs.usda.gov.


DNR head presents $833,044 to Alliance at group’s 10th Annual Meeting
Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director, Chuck Gipp, presented the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance with a check for $833,044 at the group’s 10th Annual Protect Rathbun Lake Meeting held in Allerton September 9.
Gipp, who attended the meeting with nearly a dozen Iowa DNR representatives, said the contribution was provided through the Environmental Protection Agency’s nonpoint source section 319 grant funds, which is administered by the IDNR. “It’s a real pleasure for me to be here to present this check to the Alliance. These folks down here in the Rathbun area are doing a great job of improving water quality and soil conservation and these funds are to help them continue their efforts,” said Gipp.
The contribution adds to the nearly $30 million in financial support the Alliance has received from partners at the local, state, and federal level since the Protect Rathbun Lake Project began in 2004.
Funding provided by project partners since 2004 has helped the Alliance carry out the project’s water quality protection activities which includes the installation of best management practices, water quality monitoring, and landowner outreach. These practices protect Rathbun Lake, which is the water source for Rathbun Regional Water Association that consistently provides clean drinking water to 80,000 people in southern Iowa.
To date, more than 1.5 million feet of terraces and nearly 600 structures have been installed by landowners through the project, which have reduced sediment delivery to Rathbun Lake by 46,396 tons each year and 199,325 pounds of phosphorous annually.
The grant funds presented by the DNR at the annual meeting will assist landowners to install terrace systems, grade stabilization structures, and water and sediment control basins for 1,975 acres, which will further reduce the annual delivery of sediment by 2,965 tons and phosphorus by 11,850 pounds.
More than 150 attended the annual event, which was open to all landowners whose farms are located in the Rathbun Lake Watershed counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, and Wayne.
Three Rathbun Lake Watershed landowners were recognized as 2015 Rathbun Lake Protectors for their outstanding contributions – past, present, and planned – to the protection of Rathbun Lake. The Soil and Water Conservation Districts in each watershed county are invited to nominate individuals for the award which is given annually. Landowners who were recognized are as follows:
Clarke County
Betty Wallace and her son, Fred Wallace from Grand River. On the Wallace farm one grade stabilization structure and 6,400 feet of terraces were installed which treated 69 acres. These structures reduced the sediment to Rathbun Lake by 139 tons per year and phosphorus by 795.8 lbs. per year. The Wallaces practice no-till and have the north slope of the farm draining to Chariton Creek enrolled into CRP.
Lucas County
Keith and Angela Dachenbach of Russell installed two grade stabilization structures, 4,100 feet of terraces and seeded 35 acres of cropland on their farm. This treated a total of 119 acres and reduced sediment by 191 tons per year. The Dachenbach’s are preparing to install another 3,400 feet of terraces and two more grade stabilization structures this fall. They use a corn/bean/hay rotation along with native grass seedings and CRP on some of the steeper slopes on his property.
Wayne County
John and Catherine Witt of Iowa City. The couple lives in Iowa City but maintain a farm in Wayne County where they installed 5,450 feet of terraces through the Protect Rathbun Lake Project. This treated 36.4 acres, which reduced sediment to Rathbun Lake by 67 tons per year and phosphorus by 305 pounds per year. The couple practices no-till, grassed waterways, field borders, and hay seeding. The Witt’s have also agreed to allow their neighbor to back water onto their property from a structure that the neighbor is building.
An Honorary Rathbun Lake Protector award was presented to Mike McGhee.
In presenting the award, John Glenn said Mike started his career in 1976 with the Iowa DNR as a Fisheries Management Technician where he worked in an eight county area of Southwest Iowa.
“During his career with the DNR, Mike was instrumental in bringing together the many agencies and organizations that provide the staff and funds needed to protect Rathbun Lake. He was a leader in implementing water quality improvement projects, new lake developments, and lake rehabilitation efforts,” said Glenn.
McGhee was instrumental in establishing Iowa’s nationally recognized Lake Restoration Program. This program develops lake restoration projects that ensure a cost-effective investment for the State; foster a community commitment to lake and watershed protection; and provide significant improvement to the quality of Iowa lakes.
“There is no doubt that the success we have achieved to date in protecting one of Iowa’s most valuable water resources, Rathbun Lake, would not have been possible without the efforts and support of Mike McGhee,” explained Glenn.
Pictured L-R: Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director, Chuck Gipp; Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey; award recipients, Bruce George, John Sellers, and John Glenn;  Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds, and Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. 


Three Alliance Board members receive award from Governor at state fair

Bruce George of Allerton, John Glenn of Centerville, and John Sellers of Corydon received the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award during a special ceremony at the Iowa State Fair on Wednesday, August 19.

The award, which is given to recognize the efforts of Iowa’s farmers who are committed to healthy soils and improved water quality, was given by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa Sec. of Agriculture Bill Northey, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director Chuck Gipp. 

 “Farmers take pride in conservation efforts and preserving and protecting our natural resources. This award gives us all an opportunity to recognize their efforts as exceptional leaders,” said Branstad. “It is a pleasure to have the opportunity each year to recognize Iowans who go above and beyond to be good stewards of our land.”

Going above and beyond would be a good description of these three gentlemen. While they each have their own personal conservation achievements, they were instrumental in the formation of the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance in 1996. They are founding members of the Alliance and have continued to serve as board members to this day. In the nearly 20 years since the Alliance began it has grown to be recognized throughout the state and region as a model for watershed and water quality protection.

Through the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, the Protect Rathbun Lake Project was developed. To date, project staff has worked with nearly 600 landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed to implement best management practices that protect Rathbun Lake – the water source for Rathbun Regional Water Association that provides drinking water to 80,000 people in southern Iowa and northern Missouri. 

John Glenn
While Glenn serves as CEO of Rathbun Regional Water Association and president of Rathbun Land and Water Alliance, he is also an active farmer in Appanoose County. For more than 20 years, Glenn has practiced no-till planting on his farm and has installed numerous terraces to reduce erosion and contaminant run off. He has installed several CRP buffer ponds, two structures through IFIP as well as grassed waterways through CRP. He has served by appointment on the Environmental Protection Commission, currrently sits on the board of the Iowa Association of Water Agencies.

John Sellers and Bruce George have extended service with the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District, serving as commissioners for a combined total of more than 60 years.
While George and Sellers are retired from farming, the two shared a passion for soil sustainability and water quality protection during their entire farming careers.

Bruce George
George farmed for 22 years prior to retiring from farming in 2014 and he, too, has hosted numerous field days on his pasture.

While farming, he treated all but 40 acres of his 500 acre farm with conservation practices, installing most of the terraces using his own dozer. 
George says every place on this farm that needed a terrace to stop soil erosion, he put one in. He installed 9,000 feet of terraces and installed one structure with cost share. He also raised yearling cattle.
George serves on the boards of Farm Bureau, Grand River Mutual, and NRCS.

John Sellers
Sellers was a proponent of no-till farming, grassed waterways, and seeding highly erodible land. He was the coordinator for the Chariton Valley Switchgrass Project to promote soil sustainability and grew switchgrass himself because of the conservation benefits. He built seven structures on his farm which is mainly forages, but also has part of the farm enrolled in CRP.



During his farming career, John hosted numerous field days and has served on many boards and commissions including the Hay and Forage Advisory Board, Iowa Forage and Grassland Council, the Leopold Center Advisory Board, the State Technical Committee for NRCS and in 1981 was named outstanding district commissioner.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey says Iowa is a national leader in conservation and water quality efforts. “It is important that we recognize the farmers who are making a significant investment in conservation efforts and serving as examples in how we can continue to better care for our air, soil and water,” Northey said.
All winners from across the state of Iowa were chosen by a selection group representing both conservation and agricultural groups.

The selection group that approved the 2015 winners included representatives from the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship, Iowa DNR, Conservation Districts of Iowa, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Iowa Farm Bureau, Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Turkey Federation, Iowa Pork Producers Association and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.

Honey bees arrive at Honey Creek Resort State Park just in time for stewardship week

The explosion of flowering, blooming trees across southern Iowa are thanks in part to the arrival of warm weather and spring rain, but the National Association of Conservation Districts wants to make sure the hardworking pollinators receive their share of the credit for the annual floral display.  

NACD President Lee McDaniel says pollinators play a critical role in our everyday lives, and it’s important that we work to protect their habitat.

“While many pollinators may seem like just annoying insects, they are actually a very important part of the web of life upon which we all depend. Pollinators form the underpinning of a healthy and sustainable future for food and the environment, but they have shown disturbing signs of decline in recent years,” he says.

Three bee hives arrived at Honey Creek Resort State Park, located on Rathbun Lake in southern Iowa, just in time to help kick off the NACD’s 60th year of celebrating stewardship week, April 26 – May 3, with the 2015 theme: Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators.

Honey Creek Resort State Park General Manager, Andy Woodrick, says the decision to bring bees is part of the resort’s “go green” initiative and to provide the chef with local supplies for the restaurant.

The resort employs two naturalists, Jacob Ahee and Hannah Wiltamuth, who helped situate the newly arrived bees and their hives on April 24. Each of the three bee hives has two of the supers where the bees can produce and store their honey.  

Wiltamuth says programs that showcase the importance of pollinators will provide resort guests the opportunity to learn about the value of bees and their role as pollinators.

“Programs during honey harvest will allow resort guests to learn how to spin and strain the honey,” says Wiltamuth. “Guests who help with honey harvest will be allowed to take home some of the harvested honey.”

The rural location of Honey Creek Resort State Park is an ideal habitat for the bees due to the native Iowa prairie that surrounds the resort as well the agricultural crops and clovers in area pastures.

When pollinators shrink in number, many plants either produce less seed or no seed at all. The bottom line is, when pollinators start disappearing, plants start disappearing. Most plants depend upon pollinators to reproduce. While animals can travel and move around to find mates and reproduce, plants are rooted to one spot. Therefore, plants depend on pollinators to move pollen from their anthers to their stigma.

In addition to honey bees, there more than 100,000 species of insects, that work hard as pollinators. There are also over 1,000 species of other animals such as birds, reptiles and mammals, including bats that pollinate plants.  Your local conservation district can assist you in maintaining or developing habitat for pollinators. 

Additional Pollinator resources are located in the NACD Local Heroes – Your Hardworking Pollinators educators guide found at: www.nacdnet.org/education/resources/local-heroes

NACD represents the nation’s 3,000 conservation districts, which were established to encourage resource conservation across the country.
           
For more information about Stewardship Week and conservation, contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District or visit nacdnet.org.
Honey Creek Resort State Park Naturalist, Jacob Ahee, holds the queen, which arrives separately. 
The queen is placed in her box between the 2nd and 3rd frames.  Jacob dumps in the rest of the bees. In the queen box is a small plug made of marshmallow.  The other bees will eat the plug to get her out of the box while she emits pheromones.  By the time they get to her they will have accepted her as their queen.










Rathbun Land and Water Alliance featured on The Iowa Minute

Watch The Iowa Minute which featured the conservation work carried out by landowners in the Rathbun Lake Watershed through the Protect Rathbun Lake Project.




Rathbun Lake Watershed Landowners receive Governor's Award
Six Rathbun Lake Watershed landowner couples were honored at a special ceremony at the Iowa State Fair where they received the Iowa Farm Environmental Leader Award from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad.

This is the third year for the award, which is a joint effort between the Governor, Lt. Governor, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources to recognize the efforts of Iowa’s farmers as environmental leaders committed to healthy soils and improved water quality.

Those recognized were as follows:
Pictured with award recipients from left to right are Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director, Chuck Gipp, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.  

Appanoose County - Doyle and Barb Ewing of Plano

Clarke County - Jason and Amy Boyer of Weldon
Decatur County - Joe and Joanie Boggs of Weldon

Lucas County - Mike and Laurie Hunter of Chariton
Lucas County - Nick and Alyse Hunter of Chariton 

Wayne County - Ron and Darla Main of Corydon

In presenting the award, Governor Branstad said the award seeks to recognize the exemplary voluntary actions of farmers that improve or protect the environment and natural resources of our state while also encouraging other farmers to follow in their footsteps by building success upon success.

“It recognizes those that have taken steps in their farming operations to serve as local leaders in environmental stewardship on their farms, utilizing a variety of techniques and best management practices. As environmental leaders, these farmers have adopted best management practices and incorporated environmental stewardship throughout their farming operations,” said Branstad.

The nominations were submitted by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance.

“True stewards of the land, these landowners recognize that improved water quality and soil sustainability reaps benefits that extend beyond their fields to reach the citizens of Iowa and beyond, and have made environmental stewardship a priority on their farms. We thank them for their efforts,” says Branstad.

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Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Recognized by Governor

(Watch interview with KTVO on the Media and Podcasts tab) The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance received two awards at the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award ceremony held July 15 at the Wallace Building in Des Moines – the Water Quality Special Project Award and the Environmental Education Special Project Award.

Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President John Glenn and Vice-President, Kim Francisco represented the organization in accepting the awards.

The awards are coordinated by the Governor's Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Department of Public Health, and the Iowa Waste Reduction Center.

“The innovations that have been made by the award recipients to benefit Iowa’s citizens both economically and environmentally are to be commended. They showcase the commitment being made to make Iowa a better state now and into the future,” said Gov. Branstad in presenting the awards.

The Water Quality Special Project Award: The Protect Rathbun Lake Project was created by the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance in an effort to protect land located in the Rathbun Lake Watershed and Rathbun Lake, with the primary goal to reduce sediment and phosphorus delivery to Rathbun Lake and water bodies in the watershed. GIS technology was used to create a model that identifies priority land, determined to have the greatest potential to deliver sediment and phosphorous to Rathbun Lake. More than 500 landowners have partnered with the Alliance to install more than 550 sediment basins and grade stabilization structures and 1.3 million feet of terraces. Currently, more than 41,000 tons of sediment and 175,000 pounds of phosphorous are prevented from entering Rathbun Lake annually. The ultimate goal is to treat 30,000 acres of priority land which will reduce annual sediment and phosphorus delivery to Rathbun Lake by an estimated 90,000 tons of sediment and 360,000 pounds of phosphorus.

The Environmental Education Special Project Award: With the ultimate goal to treat 30,000 acres of priority land in the Rathbun Lake watershed, the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance knows that it is essential that landowners in the watershed are educated and informed on the issue of sediment and contaminant delivery to the lake. The Rathbun Lake Protector Program employs a variety of outreach activities that help educate potential cooperating landowners, critical to the overall success of the project. Rathbun Lake Protectors are featured in press releases at the local, regional, and state level in agricultural publications and programs. Field-level signage is installed on the land of Protectors to both recognize them for their award and to educate and encourage other landowners to participate. Plaques engraved with the names of the Protectors are displayed in each Soil and Water Conservation District office and each fall at the Protect Rathbun Lake Annual Meeting, landowners are recognized as Rathbun Lake Protectors and receive awards for their conservation efforts. To date, nearly 550 landowners have worked with the Alliance to install conservation practices in the watershed, preventing more than 41,000 tons of sediment and 175,000 pounds of phosphorous from entering Rathbun Lake annually.

(L-R) Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Vice-President, Kim Francisco, Rathbun Land and Water Alliance President, John Glenn, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources Director, Chuck Gipp. 



Brian DeMoss receives IDALS-DSC certificate of recognition 

Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District Environmental Specialist, Brian DeMoss, received a certificate of recognition from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation (IDALS-DSC).

DeMoss, who also serves as Protect Rathbun Lake Project Coordinator, was surprised with the award during the quarterly meeting of the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Board held March 28 at Pin Oak Marsh Lodge Education Center near Chariton. 

Matt McDonald, IDALS-DSC field services representative who nominated DeMoss for the award, said during the past few months DeMoss has been assisting the Monroe Soil and Water Conservation District in going through their unfunded cost share applications, which required contacting landowners for 182 applications.  

“He completed 86 estimates and all this work was done on his own personal time and at no expense to the Lucas County District who employs him or to the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance,” McDonald said in his nomination. “He donated his Friday afternoons for two months straight as well as receiving phone calls after work hours from landowners.”

Presenting the award in McDonald’s absence was Brandon Dittman, also a IDALS-DSC field services representative. Dittman added that the work carried out by DeMoss was much appreciated due to the need this spring of getting priority projects ready for spring work to get the state's cost share dollars spent effectively. 

“The Monroe office would have spent a lot of extra time doing the work that Brian did on his own time. His work ethic is extraordinary and the landowners reap the benefits for his work,” continued Dittman.

Through the Protect Rathbun Lake Project, DeMoss works with Rathbun lake Watershed landowners in the counties of Clarke, Lucas, and Monroe to install best management practices such as terraces, grassed waterways, and grade stabilization structures.

The Rathbun Lake Watershed covers 354,000 acres and is located in the six southern Iowa counties of Appanoose, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Monroe, and Wayne.

Lucas County SWCD Environmental Specialist, Brian DeMoss, (at left) receives a certificate of recognition from Brandon Dittman, IDALS-DSC field services representative. DeMoss received the award at the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Board meeting held at Pin Oak Marsh Lodge Education Center near Chariton on March 28. 
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August 2013
Iowa Ag Secretary makes return trip to Lucas County
For the second time this summer Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, visited Lucas County; this time to view two watershed projects - the Lake Morris Project and the Protect Rathbun Lake Project. Brian DeMoss, Project Coordinator for the Rathbun Land and Water Alliance's Protect Rathbun Lake Project, helped coordinate the visit.
"It was a great opportunity to show Secretary Northey two watershed projects that are both protecting municipal water supplies, with different upstream land uses, different impairments, different goals, and using different practices and techniques to reach those goals - and both within Lucas County," explained DeMoss.
Lucas County Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioners and staff and landowners from both projects visited with Secretary Northey as they traveled from Morris Lake to the Brad Reece farm south of Chariton.  
Kim Williams, Project Coordinator for the Lake Morris Project which was completed in the fall of 2012, explained to Secretary Northey how successful the solar powered circulation devices have been in reducing and preventing blue green algae blooms in the lake.
The group moved to a structure built on the Brad Reece family farm south of Chariton which resulted in a 25 foot deep pond that covers eight to nine acres of surface water. Brad and his wife, Cathy were one of the first landowners in Lucas County to be recognized for their work to protect Rathbun Lake. Their soil saving practices prevent approximately 800 tons of sediment per year from being delivered to Rathbun Lake. Rathbun Lake supplies 80,000 people with drinking water.
Northey at Brad Reece Farm Photo CaptionL-R: Standing on the dam of a large grade stabilization structure that was built as part of the Protect Rathbun Lake Project are Lucas County SWCD Commissioners, Arnie Schneider and Rick McBroom; Lucas County NRCS Secretary, Connie Carpenter; landowner, Brad Reece, field technician, Jeff Pfeifer; Lucas County SWCD Commissioner and Rathbun Land and Water Alliance Board member, Kevin Luedtke; Ty Luedtke; PRLP Coordinator, Brian DeMoss; and Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey.