A major tributary to the Upper Iowa River, Silver Creek is located in Howard and Winneshiek Counties in northeast Iowa. The watershed consists of row crops, grassland, timber and the city of Cresco (pop. 3,868). The land area is 22,410 acres (13,104 acres in Howard County and 9,306 acres in Winneshiek County). Silver Creek is on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) 303(d) "Impaired Waters List" due to high bacteria levels. The Howard SWCD in cooperation with the Winneshiek SWCD have been awarded an Iowa DNR Section 319 project grant to improve the water quality of Silver Creek.
Several funding sources with cost-share up to 75% are available for the following practices in the watershed. Neil Shaffer, Project Coordinator, may be contacted at 563-547-3040 ext. #3 or email@example.com.
Grassed Waterways - Construct and seed waterways to eliminate ephemeral gully erosion
Manure Storage Structures - Construct stacking pads and storage basins to better manage application of manure
Pasture Management - Field days, grazing systems, fencing and watering systems to enhance pastureland
Urban Landscapes - Rain gardens, bio-retention and infiltration basins, native landscapes and shallow wetlands
Septic Systems - Septic system installation-upgrade
Native Grass Seeding - Seed native grasses and flowers along streams and critical areas to filter nutrients
Terraces - Construct terraces on the contour to eliminate sheet and rill erosion
Wetland Creations - Return degraded and former wetlands to their naturally functioning condition
DNR Watershed Management Plan
The watershed encompasses the North Branch Turkey River and Chihak Creek. The planning grant implementation began during the spring of 2015. Hunter Slifka, District Technician, has been spearheading the local project. A land use assessment of all 41,530 acres was completed in May 2015. Visual data for tillage, planting method, residue level, crop rotation and native cover were collected in order to generate soil loss maps of the entire watershed. A survey sheet was sent out to all of the land owners and operators of the watershed with a large number of surveys returned. A RASCAL stream assessment was completed by walking 38 miles of the stream and the larger branches. This assessment documented stream corridor conditions including: water clarity, stream bank stability, stream bottom, habitat conditions and existing buffer width. A fish survey was also conducted on both Chihak and the Turkey River Branch. Information gathered from the surveys will help determine what practices are needed, setting goals and a timeline for writing an implementation proposal in the future.
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