The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District had a busy and exciting 2017! We welcomed two new commissioners; Kyle Riley and Katie Rock. Kyle Riley is a consultant for HR Green and was a leader in the creation of the Mud, Camp, Spring watershed management plan. Unfortunately, Kyle had to leave the board in late 2017, but we valued his valuable input and look forward to continuing to work with him outside of the district.

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Katie Rock began as a grant administrator at Drake University when she started her terms with Polk Soil and Water Conservation District. She now works for the Center of Rural Affairs as a Policy Associate. Katie provides valuable input and expertise in all aspects of our work but especially helps advocate for our natural resources at the policy levels

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Our long-time board chair, Chip Mathis, was also re-elected. Chip has been a valuable part of our board for many years now and we look forward to continuing to work with him!

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Long time employee, Zach DeYoung, left the district for another career opportunity with Apex Companies as a project manager. Zach worked for the district for 7 years and will be greatly missed. Zach was appointed as an assistant commissioner on the board, so he will continue to be involved with the district! We welcomed Julie Perrault as the new Easter Lake Watershed Coordinator to fill Zach’s shoes. Julie graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in WHAT. She has been busy during her first year installing conservation projects, coordinating lake cleanout, and engaging the community with public outreach.

We had two retirements in our office; conservation assistant Pam Swartz and NRCS district conservationist Paul Miller. Pam worked in our office for 15 years and was the first face you saw when you walked in. Paul was with the NRCS for 35 years and built relationships with many of the farmers in the county. Much of the conservation seen throughout Polk County would not be on the landscape without their hard work!

The Polk SWCD installed a wide range of conservation practices on the urban and rural landscape this year. Below is a table highlighting these practices.


Place

Amount

Terraces

2,749 feet

Acres with Improved Environmental Quality

5,353 acres

Conservation Systems Planned

3,752 acres

Cover Crops

3,438 acres

Wildlife Habitat Applied

24 acres

Denitrifying Bioreactor

2

Stream Buffer

14 acres

Mulch Till/Strip Till

384 acres

No Till

1,675 acres

Grassed Waterways

31.3 acres

Continuous CRP Contracts

(14) 221 acres

Wetland

2

Rain Gardens

1

Soil Quality Restoration

25

Bioretention Cell

3

Woodland Restoration

20+ acres

Rain Barrels

14

Streambank Stabilization

7,000 feet

Native Landscaping

0.13 acres

Water and Sediment Basins

8

Saturated Buffer

1

Along with installing practices, district staff worked to educate the public about our natural resources and how they can protect them. Outreach ranged from large events like Big Creek Appreciation Day to smaller presentations at homeowners’ association meetings. Staff also gave a tour of urban practices to 200 commissioners from across the country! Polk SWCD works hand in hand with many partner organization to educate the large population in Polk County. In 2018 alone, Polk SWCD and partner organizations held 64 educational events reaching 54,500 people!

Each year, the Polk Soil and Water Conservation district presents awards to individuals exceling as conservation stewards. The district would like to commemorate them for their often unnoticed soil and water conservation work. The district also presents a $300 scholarship to a graduating Polk County student who is pursuing a degree in the environmental field. Criteria used in judging the yearly applications is scholastic achievement and leadership which includes service, character and self-motivation.

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To view our annual report, visit the link below! (file uploaded on drive)

The Polk SWCD already has many exciting things planned for 2018 and cannot wait to see where the next year brings us!

Iowa is America’s most biologically altered state.