DES MOINES, Iowa – Nov. 21, 2017 – A $250,000 grant from Wells Fargo will enable Ducks Unlimited to provide Iowa residents and wildlife cleaner water, thanks to improved wetland habitats.
Iowa has lost more than 95 percent of its historical wetlands to human development. Wetlands act as nature’s kidneys, filtering pollutants from rainwater runoff before it enters local waterways.
Diminished wetlands in Iowa has led to severely degraded streams and rivers, which impact water quality for drinking and recreation. More than 50 percent of Iowa’s waters are ranked “poor” and 500 waterways are “impaired.”
Thanks to the Wells Fargo grant, Ducks Unlimited will work with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to restore vital wetlands to reduce nutrient runoff, improve water quality, reduce downstream flooding and provide waterfowl and wildlife habitat.
Mike Shannon, Ducks Unlimited’s regional biologist in Iowa, said part of the grant will pay for wetland restoration in heavily farmed areas through the state’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
“We’ll be putting these wetlands in agriculture landscapes to collect water drained off farm fields through tiling,” Shannon said. “By diverting water from tiles into these strategically placed wetlands, we can reduce nitrates entering the waterways by 40 percent to 75 percent. This is a well-recognized method to improve water quality in Iowa.”
The CREP construction work will occur in summer 2018. The grant will help fund about five projects that will help filter runoff from approximately 6,000 acres of farmland.
The Wells Fargo Grant will also support Ducks Unlimited’s Living Lakes Initiative in Iowa. The initiative enhances, restores and protects managed shallow lakes and wetlands from central Iowa through Minnesota. The grant will fund at least three new shallow lake enhancements totaling 500 acres. This work is scheduled for completion in summer 2019.
The grant was awarded through the Resilient Communities program, a $10 million, four-year partnership between National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wells Fargo. The program aims to increase community capacity to plan and implement resilience projects and improve the protections afforded by natural ecosystems by investing in green infrastructure and other measures across the United States.
“In addition to improving water quality and wildlife habitat in 37 north-central Iowa counties, the Ducks Unlimited project will help mitigate local and downstream flooding,” said Stephanie Rico, senior vice president of environmental affairs at Wells Fargo. “The Resilient Communities Program seeks to empower communities to take advantage of and enhance natural features like the Iowa wetlands to both improve quality of life in the region and lessen the impacts of extreme weather events.”
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org.