Waste Storage Facilities

Conversion from an over-grazed pasture to a riparian buffer vastly improved the water quality of this stream.

Cover crops reduce soil erosion, limit nitrogen leaching, suppress weeds, increase soil organic matter and improve overall soil quality.

Streambank stabilization connects the floodplain to the stream and can reduce sediment loading by 500+ tons annually.

This project is supported in part by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship-Division of Soil Conservation, through funds of the Watershed Protection Fund; Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Section 319 financial assistance and Watershed Improvement Review Board. Technical assistance is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Winneshiek SWCD. Other funding sources include Watershed Improvement Review Board, Watershed Protection Fund and Wetland Protection Fund.

Yellow River Headwaters Water Quality Project

Meandering through the hills and valleys of northeast Iowa, the Yellow River Headwaters (YRH) is the source of Iowa's largest cold water streams and one of its finest trout fisheries. Sentinel Burr Oaks stand watch over ridges of corn and soybeans while valleys feature lush pastures and tree-lined riparian corridors. Unfortunately the YRH is listed for a bacteria and sediment impairment. Through diligent work from landowners and producers the Winneshiek SWCD hopes to improve the culture of conservation.



The YRH Water Quality Project has been ongoing since 2009. Landowners and producers whom are the backbone of

the project have partnered with funders such as the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa

Department of Natural Resources and United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation

Service to invest more than $700,000 (27% of the total project investment) into stewardship practices throughout

the project. This commitment by landowners highlights water quality improvement for the watershed and has

resulted in a culmination of Best Management Practices (BMPs) which have achieved the following:

  • 13,5470 tons of sediment and 16,879 pounds of phosphorus reductions to the Yellow River annually
  • 2 miles of streambank stabilization
  • 3 miles of stream corridor fencing for a rotational grazing system
  • 16 miles of riparian corridor buffers
  • 2 nutrient reduction wetlands
  • 9 manure management systems
  • 12 miles of terraces
  • 1500+ acres of cover crops

Continued focusing of limited resource dollars to implementation of BMPs allows the project to objectively install practices within priority areas of the watershed to ensure the most return for water quality benefit and pollutant reduction benefits. The practices listed above ensure croplands and pastures continue to be profitable for producers yet applied nutrients and soil is less likely to become storm water run off. Improved soil retention within croplands and soil health strengthens the overall watershed's ability to accommodate adverse weather events and increases the stream's diversity.

Cost-share is available for the following practices:


  • Terraces
  • Sediment Basins
  • Grassed Waterways
  • Waste Storage - Livestock
  • Grade Stabilization Structures
  • Nutrient Management Plan
  • Heavy Use Protection
  • Cover Crop
  • Prescribed Grazing
  • Filter Strip
  • Diversion
  • Livestock Exclusion (Fencing)
  • Use Exclusion
  • Summer Construction
  • Pasture/Hayland Planting
  • Streambank Stabilization
  • No-Till/Strip-Till
  • Livestock Watering System
  • Nitrogen Inhibitors
  • Contour Buffer Strips
  • Wetland Creation


For specific cost-share rates and more information contact Sam Franzen, Project Coordinator, at 563-382-4352 Ext. 3 or samuel.franzen@ia.nacdnet.net.

Copyright © Winneshiek SWCD

Heavy use livestock crossings exclude livestock from the stream except to drink and pass between rotational grazing paddocks.

Sam Franzen,

Project Coordinator

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