Watershed Leaders Network

Boone River Watershed

North Central Iowa

Streams suitable for Topeka shiner minnows have cool to moderate temperatures and good water quality.

Restored Oxbows Are a Haven For Fish

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Iowa State University, and The Nature Conservancy routinely survey fish in restored oxbows in the Boone River Watershed.

The federally endangered Topeka shiner is one of thousands of fish representing 18 species that have been identified in 17 newly restored habitats on private agricultural lands. The Topeka shiner lives in pool and run areas of small to mid-size prairie streams. In Iowa, Minnesota, and portions of South Dakota, Topeka shiners also live in oxbows and off-channel pools.

After eroded soil is removed from this stream bed, the channel will retain water and support fish and other stream life. (Karen Wilke)

Boone River Watershed Strategy Includes Oxbow Restoration

An oxbow is a U-shaped river meander that gets cut off from the main flow of the river.

Since 2012, seventeen oxbows have been restored on private lands in the Boone River Watershed to provide wildlife habitat, floodwater storage, and to filter nutrients from water. See how they look in this video filmed on the Jake Peterson farm near Woolstock, Iowa.

Funding from Fishers & Farmers Partnership helped make this possible.

The Boone River is a popular site for recreation such as kayaking. (Lynn Betts)

Systems Approach To Water Quality and Good Farming

The Boone River is a half a million acre HUC 8 watershed located in north-central Iowa. Of those acres, agriculture makes up nearly 90% of the landscape.

The Boone River Watershed Project was organized to promote and assist with implementing conservation practices to reduce nutrients (primarily nitrogen and phosphorus) in water runoff. Our goal is to improve the water quality, hydrology, biodiversity, and habitat of the Boone River while maintaining or increasing agricultural productivity.

Since 2003, farmers and many committed partners in the Boone River Watershed have been working together to implement agricultural conservation practices that improve water quality and reduce flood risk while preserving agricultural productivity.

Agricultural practices promoted and adopted include: cover crops, nutrient management, reduced tillage bioreactors, saturated buffers, nutrient treatment wetlands and oxbow restorations. All of these practices are part of a systems approach to achieve nutrient and soil retention throughout a watershed on farm fields, at the edge of fields and within the stream/river corridor itself.

Learn more about work in the Boone River Watershed at: booneriver.org or on the group’s Facebook page.

Project partners:

Local farmers and landowners, The Nature Conservancy, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Iowa Soybean Association, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Iowa Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Iowa State University, Fishers and Farmers Partnership, North Central Co-Op, Agriculture’s Clean Water Alliance, Sand County Foundation, Hagie Manufacturing, John Deere, Pioneer, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Monsanto.