Protection of Prairie Creek ensures water quality benefits for Boone River

Posted on May 8, 2018 in Blog

Prairie Creek

Twisting through Humboldt County is a babbling stream known as Prairie Creek. For many species of birds and fish, including the federally endangered Topeka Shiner, Prairie Creek provides excellent habitat, and its direct relationship with the adjacent Boone River allows it to play a major role in water quality.

So when Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation received the opportunity to protect 390 acres of floodplain surrounding Prairie Creek, the project became an instant priority.

“The water quality benefits are a huge part of the land’s importance,” said Ross Baxter, INHF land projects director. “Prairie Creek flows into the Boone River, which is a significant natural resource, so any protection of the tributaries is important. If we can restore and keep the surrounding land in native vegetation, it will reduce sediment and runoff flowing into Prairie Creek, which ultimately would deposit into the Boone River.”

The land, mostly made up of woods and floodprone crop ground, provides a sanctuary for many forms of wildlife in the area. According to Baxter, when the area floods regularly, the land is a popular spot for waterfowl and other birds to rest during their migratory travels.

“Prairie Creek floods pretty regularly in the spring, which provides a great resting place for migrating birds,” Baxter said. “One day when we were out there, about 30 acres were seasonally flooded, and probably over 1,000 ducks and geese were out there, including a pair of trumpeter swans.”

Because of the land’s location in Humboldt County, it provides public rare access to wildlife habitat in an area that otherwise has little outdoor recreation land to offer. This new natural space will provide public access for bird watching, hiking and hunting to Iowans. The area will eventually transfer to the Humboldt County Conservation Board for ongoing ownership and management.