You’re Invited – Public Hearing, 11/23/13


An open meeting to gather public input on projects, goals and priorities for Iowa’s rivers and waterways will be held at the Johnson County Fairgrounds ISU Extension Building on Saturday, November 23rd, from 9:30 am—1:00 pm.  Sign-in will start at 9:15.   The Fairgrounds are located near the “Airport” exit from Highway 218 (4265 Oak Crest Hill Rd. SE).  The event is sponsored by Iowa River Friends on behalf of the Iowa Legislature’s Study Committee on Rivers and Waterways.  The public is invited to contribute information and opinions about the topic of river restoration.  The Legislature’s Study Committee will include this testimony and information in their Des Moines meeting in December to analyze the input from around the state.

Residents and organizations from the counties of Johnson, Iowa, Linn, Cedar, Muscatine and Washington are especially encouraged to participate, though people from other eastern Iowa locales are welcome.  State legislators from the area as well as from the Study Committee have been invited.

Specifically, the Study Committee wants to determine:  What kind of river and waterway projects should the state consider supporting?  How should projects be prioritized?  What goals should define Iowa’s river investment program?  What improvements related to Iowa’s rivers should be measured?

At the beginning of the meeting there will be a short overview on river health issues in Iowa, and a charge from State Legislator Chuck Isenhart, a ranking member of the Environmental Protection Committee and liaison to the Watershed Planning Advisory Council.  Individuals and groups who wish to make input should address one or more of the preceding questions related to river and waterway improvement.  There will be opportunity for people to make written contributions to the Study Committee as well as oral comments on November 23rd.

For those who are unable to attend the meeting, you can submit feedback to the Iowa River Friends through the survey available here – Iowa Rivers & Waterways Survey. Responses to the survey are anonymously recorded and will be shared with the legislature’s study committee.

Iowa River Friends, formed early this year, is dedicated to improving, protecting, and enjoying the Iowa River, its creeks and streams.  I.R.F. seeks to include a wide variety of interests and stakeholders in its membership and governance, and to act as a bulletin board for information pertaining to the watershed.

For more information about I.R.F. or the public meeting, contact the Iowa River Friends’ Executive Committee Members:

Mel Schlachter, Chairperson, 319.351.4380 

Mary Skopec, Vice-Chair, 319.560.7365

Carol Sweeting, Secretary, 319.356.5164

Del Holland, Treasurer, 319.594.2957

Mary Beth Stevenson, Recording / Corresponding Secretary, 319.325.8593


One response to “You’re Invited – Public Hearing, 11/23/13

  1. Thanks so much for hosting this event, Iowa River Friends!

    Below is the feedback I provided during the gathering. I submitted a shortened version using the online survey.

    What would it take to for Iowa’s waterways to run clear and be drinkable again?

    Is this an impossible goal? They were drinkable for tens of thousands of years before European settlement less than 180 years ago. At that time the state was largely a bison farm, building massive amounts of soil, cleaning water, and perpetually supporting entire cultures.

    Every society that relied on annual crops for staple foods has collapsed. Major soil loss and polluted waterways are symptoms of a larger food system problem that is leading us to collapse. Let’s wisely use our limited energy and resources to address the food system problem rather than band-aiding waterway symptoms.

    Our current food system has two major goals: the creation of food and money. Because a healthy environment is not a goal of the system, polluted water is just one of many externalized costs.

    Three levels of change can be made to our food system: adaptation, reformation, or transformation.
    • Examples of system adaptation include contour plowing, river cleanups, bank stabilization, and teaching people how to use fewer pesticides.
    • Examples of system reform include the Conservation Reserve Program, riparian buffer strips, organic farming, and rain gardens.

    These are good and necessary actions and should continue to be supported. But… they simply do less harm; they do not seek to regenerate and restore the vast, healthy ecosystems that once existed. We unconsciously accept that doing less harm is the best we can accomplish because we believe the goals of the system cannot be changed.

    Transformation, however, involves radically changing the system so that it has new goals, one of which can be that Iowa rivers and all their tributaries run clear and be drinkable.

    The biggest action we can take to accomplish this goal is to transition from large-scale farms of annual crops designed to shed water to small-scale fields of perennial crops designed to keep water on the land for as long as possible.

    We will still have annual crops, but they will be integrated into woodlands, windbreaks, riparian buffers, and meadows that grow fruits, nuts, vegetables, and livestock while mimicking the water-cleaning and soil-building properties of healthy ecosystems. Landowners will think twice before removing a riparian buffer strip if it is steadily producing a valuable crop of chestnuts, hazelnuts, and aronia berries every year.

    To make the greatest impact toward this goal, I invite you to consider strongly supporting farms, organizations, and people who practice agroforestry, permaculture, and keyline design.

    Everyone wants a big goal—a vision—to rally around. No great change has ever happened without one. Let’s transform our food system so it goes beyond just doing less damage to a system that continuously improves the health of our people, climate, soil, and water.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s