River Restoration

Iowa DNR River Restoration Toolbox

The Iowa DNR’s River Restoration Toolbox is LIVE on the website and IRR is a proud partner of this work.

Iowa’s River Restoration Toolbox is a series of best management practices developed to assist designers in stream stabilization and restoration projects in Iowa with proven techniques with emphasis on incorporating natural materials, such as logs, stone, and live plantings. Among the dozens of techniques described in the Toolbox are longitudinal peaked stone toe protection, j-hook vanes, rock arch rapids, oxbows, riparian corridor restorations, and tree/shrub plantings. It delivers a consistent, relevant assessment method and reviewable design checklists to aid decision making among multidisciplinary teams (i.e. – restoration practitioner, engineer, project manager, funder, biologist, etc.). The toolbox also provides detailed drawings and specification requirements to make natural stabilization projects more biddable.

For more toolbox information you can look at our toolbox page here: River Restoration Toolbox
Check the Toolbox out here: Iowa DNR River Restoration Toolbox

A vision for a statewide river restoration program

A River Restoration Program for Iowa should provide a framework for targeted in-stream and stream-side restoration, preservation, enhancement, and beneficial use of Iowa rivers. A program can be based on existing models, such as Iowa’s successful lake restoration program, and on best practices learned from other states.

Iowa’s rivers face complicated challenges. A program run by professionals with input from communities and affected landowners is crucial to restoring river structure and function and improving water quality. The quality of our waterways affects the economic vitality and quality of life for all Iowans, now and into the future.

What is river restoration?

River restoration is a process of restoring rivers and streams to healthier, naturally-functioning ecosystems. Healthy streams can:

– Improve water quality.
– Help landowners prevent loss of stream bank, land, and infrastructure.
– Help the state and counties address damage to bridges and roads.
– Reduce flooding and flood damage.
– Cultivate a healthier ecosystem for fishing, hunting and wildlife.
– Increase and improve economic development.

Iowa Rivers & Waterways Study Committee

In May 2013, the Iowa Legislature established an Iowa Rivers and Waterways Interim Study Committee to consult with interested parties in considering options for restoring the quality of Iowa’s rivers and waterways. And to develop recommendations for an initial plan to prioritize river and waterway projects, and provide defined goals and measurable improvements. Interested parties may include engineers, local watershed partnerships, persons who farm near rivers and waterways, anglers, boaters, and other interested parties.

More information and Interim Committee presentations

River Restoration Priorities 

Lead a highly informative and credible public outreach campaign about the benefits of river restoration for local communities, landowners, water quality, and river habitat.

Offer statewide training opportunities about river restoration techniques and practices for community leaders, field and technical experts, and the general public.

Develop crucial partnerships to cultivate statewide expertise and initiate river restoration projects throughout the state.

Create a framework for an Iowa River Restoration Program. River restoration helps improve water quality, reduces streambank erosion, reduces flooding, improves habitat, and strengthens the economy.


An Introduction to Natural River Restoration Webinar (Oct 21, 2015)

Des Moines Register op-ed, March 1, 2013:  A Call to Iowa to Revive Our Rivers

Funding from the McKnight Foundation has provided substantial support for Iowa Rivers Revival to raise awareness and provide training opportunities about natural river restoration and its many benefits.

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