Hi, I'm Kellie Kramer. And I'm Scott Siepker. Welcome to the prairie at
the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge. And our latest edition
of Iowa Outdoors. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Coming up on this episode of
Iowa Outdoors — We
traverse newly reclaimed wetlands across the state. Roll out into the
Mississippi River pools for a unique fishing
opportunity. Record the natural sounds
of Iowa's Great Lakes region. And explore another
Trail in a Minute. We'll have all
that and more. So sit tight, Iowa
Outdoors is about to begin. ♪♪ Funding for Iowa
Outdoors is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa's natural
wonders you'll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR's
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov. It's easy to take for
granted everything the outdoors provides. Today, we'll go fishing on
one of the manmade fishing havens on the Mississippi
River, as well as record our environment in a
manner you might not normally consider. But first, I hope you
brought your waders, because we're headed
to the wetlands. Over the last 150 years,
the majority of Iowa's native wetlands
have been destroyed. In fact, less than 10%
of our state's original marshes, fens and
bogs still exist. And while that loss is
great, those wetlands aren't necessarily
gone forever. There is an entire
network of farmers, conservationists,
homeowners and developers working together to
restore the lost benefits of Iowa's wetlands. ♪♪ We got a lot of
rain last night so I don't know how wet and muddy
it's going to be but we'll find out. ♪♪ Kevin Griggs: This
is a private developer's project. So their idea was they
purchased this piece of land and came up with a
design for residential development where they
could build houses on the higher areas. But this particular
property included quite a large piece that is down
in the flood plain of the Raccoon River and really
couldn't do a lot with it. So their original intent
was just to make an open space, an asset for the
homeowner's association, and we're going to make
some modifications to the site just to make it
a little bit wetter. We're going to put some
cross berms in here just to slow the water down as
it comes through the site. And then we're going to
plant it to native wetland species. Kevin Griggs is in the
wetland restoration business. More appropriately, his
non-profit business, the Iowa Ag Mitigation Bank,
works to restore wetlands, take the flood mitigation
credits from a site and send them to farmers who
wish to develop on flood plain land. Griggs: The way Iowa Ag
Mitigation Bank works is we work with farmers that
have a need for replacing wetlands on their
own property. So let's say that they
want to replace a one acre farmed wetland on their
property with a wetland someplace else. They have the ability to
do that themselves on their own property, but a
lot of people don't have the time, the experience
or the property available to do that. So the Iowa Ag Mitigation
Bank provides another solution. They're able to purchase a
credit for that wetland at a project that we have
already developed. In this case, this
particular one is going to be about 27 acres. This will provide the
opportunity to provide 27 acres of mitigation for
farmers that need to mitigate that
land themselves. In the flood mitigation
world, this West Des Moines site is a perfect
example of how an urban development can benefit
a rural partner. The urban property owner
retains the land use rights, while at the
same time a rural farmer benefits from those flood
plain reduction efforts. Griggs: We wouldn't
normally think of a development project within
the city of West Des Moines to provide suitable
mitigation for farmed wetlands in North Central
Iowa but this one, it just works. All the right features
came together, the right interest was there, the
right players and we're just going to
make it work. Until the late 1970s,
some government programs actually encouraged the
conversion of wetlands for farming and development. This indifference led
to over 90% of Iowa's wetlands being destroyed,
which means the Iowa we see before us today is
nothing like it once was. Sindra Jensen: So there
were stories of people being able to canoe across
Central Iowa because of the potholes that
were out there. So we have effectively
drained a lot of those. Our rivers we channelized
to straighten the rivers. We have reined them in
so that the flood plains aren't as big as they're
more the size they used to be. So we would have had
rivers that wave back and forth and had a nice flood
plain where it could have come out and flooded in
the vegetation and gone back in without
doing any damage. So we've altered that a
lot in Iowa but that is what it would
have looked like. Mitigating flood risk is
something all Iowans are on board with. However, filling in
wetlands removes a long list of benefits that
comes with them. Jensen: So, wetlands, they
are an amazing ecosystem of wildlife and
flowers and grasses. And then there's the whole
water quality benefit of wetlands. Their water sits in them
and slowly goes back into the ground, back into our
aquifers, recharges our groundwater that a lot of
folks get their drinking water from. So they help settle out
all the contaminants and nutrients that you don't
want to drink so it makes it more cost effective for
the water treatment plants to treat those waters. And restoring wetlands has
the potential to bring back all of
those benefits. In Sac City, Kirby Roberts
was so enamored with the conservation aspects,
as well as the hunting potential for restoring
his wetland property, that over the course of
several years he actually established the largest
privately owned wetland in the state. Kirby Roberts: I bought my
first piece of ground in 1992. The big pond was here but
it was farmed all the way around it up to the water. I could see the potential
over here because there was water standing in the
fields, the corn fields. So I bought it and with
that I continued to buy and I bought a total of
eight times to accomplish my 220 acres. Griggs: Kirby has done a
fantastic job at restoring wetlands on his property. He is very, very
passionate about that. He has taken upon himself
to enter into several federal programs, the
Wetlands Reserve Program and a couple of other
ones, to provide some financial assistance to
help him restore those. We were actually able
to come in after he had finished all that
construction, purchase the permanent easement from
him and provide that permanent protection
for that site. In this case, permanent
means permanent. Wetlands that are restored
through the National Resource Conservation
Service can never be farmed or developed again. That may sound like a
negative for farmers, but the process does generate
revenue for otherwise unproductive land and the
entire restoration is taken care of. Jensen: We pay 85% of
the market value of the property, which can
be considerable. In Iowa we have such great
soils, our land values are fairly high, so
we'll pay for that. And then we also pay 100%
of the restoration cost. So we'll come in and do
the seeding and do the dirt work and pay
for all that for you. In all, the wetland
restoration process is a win. While it took generations
of native habitat loss to get to this point, these
modern conservation actions are helping bring
modern life into harmony with our natural
environment. Griggs: Certainly
conservation minded in that the purpose of the
Ag Mitigation Bank is to replace those low quality
farmed wetlands with a higher quality wetland
that is permanently protected. This property is a good
example of that because it was a flood plain wetland
before any development ever came to
West Des Moines. It was cleared and
drained for agriculture originally. This was the outskirts
of the Metro area. So in this case we're
able to do that. This is former
farm ground. Now it's going to have a
permanent protection on it, it's going to be
wetter than it was before and it provides
aesthetics. To build houses around
this large wetland complex is going to be fantastic
for those landowners. They will be able to watch
the wildlife and enjoy the scenery out their
back windows. Unlike our neighbors to
the North, fishing in Iowa is primarily about
rivers and streams. And while our state may
not be home to 10,000 lakes, we are bordered by
one of the longest, most powerful rivers
in the world. The Mighty Mississippi
River is a major thoroughfare for commerce,
agriculture, tourism and wildlife. While thousands of
tourists flock to take in the annual migration, the
depths of the Mississippi River inspire just as much
wonder to avid fishermen. ♪♪ Fishing the
Mississippi is something else. For starters, when you
consider the water levels, the powerful current and
the temperature bearings, when it comes to angling
there is no habitat like this river anywhere
in the Midwest. Scott Gritters: We've got
100 species of fish in the Mississippi and that's
one of the challenges of managing the thing. This is a fishery that
is out here, it's in the channel, it's
in the current. We have a whole other
fishery that is in these backwaters that are
slack water fish or your croppies, your bluegills. And so that's a whole
different fishery. Scott Gritters has spent
the better part of 30 years working on the
Mississippi and in Bellevue he is the perfect
guide for learning about the river as well as the
waters that form it. Gritters: Mill Creek here,
it's crystal clear, this is actually a trout stream
on the upper end and it breaks off into Little and
Big Mill trout stream. Thousands of creeks,
rivers and streams flow into the Mississippi. And the health of the
river is informed by these tributaries. Mississippi River Pool
13 is loved so deeply by fishermen because streams
like Mill Creek just south of the lock and dam
are looked after. Still, the interconnected
nature of the main channel and all of Iowa should
not be taken lightly. Gritters: We're at the end
of every raindrop that hits in Iowa comes through
here so if we can keep that water clean the whole
way through, wherever it lands to whatever stream
it gets into, whatever river it moves into next,
and it ends up in the Mississippi we are better
off, we are all the way through the system so all
of the interior fish and the other fish living
in the Mississippi. Of course, there is
another rather large element in Bellevue that
pretty much defines the fishing. Lock and dam 12 has been
in place for nearly 100 years and it's not
going anywhere. Luckily it was built with
the underwater inhabitants in mind. Gritters: The dam is here
and it's always going to be here and we're just
going to have to live with the lock and dam system. One thing about the
Mississippi lock and dams versus other dams is that
the fish can migrate through it as opposed to a
big urban structure like the Saylorville,
Coralville or Red Rocks this doesn't always block
the fish migration, which is a good thing. This river is
still a river. You can tell, we're in
floating current, this is not slack water. This is still the
Mississippi River. It's not the
Mississippi Lake. While Scott is focused on
addressing issues of the pool 13 ecosystem,
fishermen can simply enjoy it. Junior Miller: I tell
everybody it's as close to heaven as I'm going to get
without going through the Pearly Gates in eastern
Jackson County. I love it here. How fortunate are we to
have fishing and hunting, outdoors. Junior Miller is a staple
of the Eastern Iowa fishing community. Having fished in lock and
dam pools for over 30 years, Junior knows every
secret there is to angling on the Mighty Mississippi. Miller: Well, fishing in
still water here you've got some current going on
here and this time of the year these walleyes really
relate to this water because the big
fish are here. But that's the thing here,
you've got current going on. Sometimes there's
a lot of current. When you get high water it
really gets wild out here. Only the Good Lord knows
what's going to happen on the water level, you know. Spring and summer may
be more popular fishing months due to warmer
temperatures and noticeably active fish. But Junior says the fall
is prime time to drift out onto the river
and cast a line. Miller: The fish are here
and they will catch fish. And they're getting into
their, I call it the spawn mode. I compare them to
salmon or something. They keep working
their way up stream. Gritters: A lot of these
river fish they migrate. Even bluegills go to
those wintering spots. Every year they go
to certain areas. Come this time of year the
sauger move up to the tail water. One benefit of the
Mississippi is the fish population is
self-perpetuating. Unlike inland waterways
that depend on stocking, the massive nature of the
Mississippi allow for large populations to
sustain themselves. Of course, that also
depends on fishermen and women following take
home regulations. Gritters: This is
a little sauger. With the sauger fish, the
limits are pretty loose. Gritters: There's no size
limits to the sauger so we could keep a fish this
size if you wanted. But walleye in this
section of the Mississippi River we can keep them
from 15 to 20 inches is when you can keep them. You can also keep one
over 27 inches, just one. Beyond size, the bag and
possession limit is the most important
number to remember. A single fisherman can
take home a total of six fish daily, with only
12 walleye and sauger combined allowed in your
freezer at one time. So if an abundance of fish
and a beautiful, unique surrounding sounds
interesting to you, the Mississippi lock and
dam pools are waiting. Gritters: One of the
things is we need to keep the Mississippi looking
like a great wildlife refuge. We want to leave
that legacy. But it is a place to go,
it is definitely a place to come to. ♪♪ Throughout the run
of our program we featured dozens of artists who are
masters at capturing the perfect outdoor photo. But it's time we admit
we have been severely neglecting an important
part of every outdoor experience, the sound. What does Ledges State
Park sound like? Or how about
the Loess Hills? Believe it or not,
acoustic ecology is an art form interested in
studying and preserving these sounds so that we
can remember them for generations to come. (vehicle sounds) So a
couple of times during the two week class we get up
incredibly early in the morning so that we can get
out and record what is known as the dawn chorus. The dawn chorus is this
time in nature where the wildlife and their
vocalizations becomes incredibly rich. And so it starts a little
bit before first light and it continues
through sunrise. In order to capture this
really dynamic time in the soundscape we need to get
out there and get our microphones running. That lets us capture this
transition of nighttime to daytime and that is when
this dawn chorus is the most rich. Welcome to a common
morning for the acoustic ecology students at Iowa
Lakeside Lab in Dickson County. Fueled by plenty of
caffeine, an ample supply of double A batteries
and led by Iowa State University Interactive
Design Professor Alex Braidwood — This was
written quite a while ago so I don't really
appreciate the word poor. But it says poor towns are
quieter than prosperous towns. This is a class
unlike any in Iowa. Braidwood: So, acoustic
ecology really looks at the idea of the soundscape
and what the soundscape can communicate. And so it's about studying
this space, this idea of what is sound, what is the
role that sound plays and what are the things that
we can do in order to maintain a healthy
environment? And sound not only is an
indicator of that, the wellness of an
environment, but also if you're able to protect
certain elements of the soundscape you're going to
kind of end up saving some other things
along the way. Where you're at you'll
get that transition from insects to birds. Yes I think so. Or just like a lot of
insect, it's up for debate at this point. Back in the van the
classroom portion of the course begins. The chapter about the
biophonic orchestra because it's where he
starts laying out his niche theory and that is
this kind of translation, that's this spectral
division that you're talking about where
insects have operated more in the higher pitch
region, the birds are sort of in the middle range,
which is about the same place the human voice
exists, and then there's other things that are
down in sort of the low frequencies in the
infrasonic range. Braidwood: So once the
recorders are running we all come back to the van,
we close the van up as quietly as we can, we make
sure that we're outside of the recordings and then we
use that time, that hour and a half or so as
basically a seminar portion of the class where
I have assigned some readings, students come
with questions and we use it as like a
reading group. We talk about the theory,
we talk about our own experiences, we talk
about some of the other information that has come
about from the videos that we've watched or the
book chapters that we're reading. And I bring coffee. So I know it's early but
it tends to be this really engaged time where
chatting about sound and sound studies, it tends
to be a pretty dynamic conversation. As the sun starts to peak
over the horizon, the conversation starts to
dissipate and soon enough it's time to get out of
the van, gather the field yrecorders and see what
sounds the have captured. Braidwood: It's usually
excitement, especially these dawn choruses
where they have left the recorders out there
running and don't know exactly what
it's capturing. And so then what we do,
we come back, we have breakfast and then we go
back into the lab and start analyzing and
looking through what was recorded. And so as they're
listening they will find things that they
didn't know was there. Maybe they got a goldfinch
that vocalized really close to the microphone or
maybe this morning some deer ran through
the water. (nature sounds) Braidwood:
And so it's a real sort of exciting thing to not know
what is going to be there and then be able to listen
through and hear what you did in fact collect. The acoustic ecology class
is only one of the courses held at the Iowa Lakeside
Lab right on the waters of West Okoboji Lake. Focused primarily on
biological research, the Board of Regents funded
laboratory also hosts an artist in residence
program of which Alex is the director. Braidwood: So the
majority of the activity that happens here is
related to the sciences, biology, field study
courses, ecology, aquatic ecology, lake studies,
things like this, but then alongside of all of that
and integrated with all of that is an artist in
residence program where I have the ability to bring
anywhere from three to six artists per season from
around the country here to make their work. And the focus of the
residence program is people who are working at
the intersection of art, science and nature. When an artist isn't
creating, they are urged to join the courses
being held at the lab. (nature sounds) For
Christine Carr, a photographer participating
in the artist in residence program, taking part in
the dawn chorus outing was too tempting to pass up. So getting up at 4 was, I
was a little hesitant at first, but the walk from
my room over to the van was amazing. And so experiencing
the campus at 4 a.m. is incredible because you
can see the stars, it's really dark and
it's really quiet. Having the experience
at 4 a.m or having the recordings of sound at
that time of day is basically opening up my
world to a lot of new things so that has
been a lot of fun. Those new experiences
don't end with a dawn chorus. Following breakfast, Alex
and crew loaded up special hydrophones designed to
record sounds from objects or materials that come
in contact with it. As the name might suggest,
it is best used in underwater sound
recordings. Braidwood: We can
translate ideas of underwater noise to
impacting whale calls and migratory patterns and
things like that, but it is also valuable to just
think about in a lake like this what is the impact
of all the recreational vehicles. And of course it's
incredibly fun to be on the lake and that is a
good portion of what it does. But it's worth thinking
about what is happening underneath the
water acoustically. And so we took kayaks out
because we like to try to be, we like the idea of
the silent sports, so we took kayaks out, we put
hydrophones in the water and gave everybody a
chance to listen and record for a while of what
is happening underneath there. (underwater sounds) Braidwood: And you can hear some activity. We're at the point in the
season where some docks are going in so you can
hear the mechanical sounds of the docks being put in,
there are some fishing boats came by, some
power boats came by. And so we get to hear the
sounds that those things are making under water. Of course, hydrophones are
specific and expensive recording equipment. But heading out into the
back yard and trying your own hand at acoustic
ecology doesn't truly require top of
the line gear. In fact, Alex says gear
should be the last thing you consider. Braidwood: You start
by going outside. You can use the voice memo
app on your phone, it doesn't matter. If you want to go outside
and record sound just go outside and record sound. Tag it, put it on the
Internet, share it with people, play it back to
yourself when you're trying to fall asleep. As you get into it
recording equipment doesn't have to
be expensive. There are some really
great intro level things that you can do for less
than people pay for cable television a month. And so getting out
and just doing it is absolutely
where it starts. (nature sounds) It's time
for IPTV's Trail in a Minute where we show you
a first person view of a different Iowa hiking,
biking or water trail each episode. It's an opportunity
to relive a previous experience or plan
a future adventure. And it's a pretty cool way
to view the Iowa outdoors. Take a look. ♪♪ On the banks of
the Cedar River, the Cedar Cliff Trail inside
Palisades Kepler State Park is a wonderful mix
of challenge and beauty. ♪♪ Starting with an
upper and lower segment, we suggest taking the
right fork as the upper track gives you a better
idea of what is ahead, climbs, switchbacks
and excellent views. ♪♪ While a round
trip is only two miles, everyone will need a break
from all of the up and down. Thankfully there are
plenty of benches and overlooks to stop
and appreciate the surroundings. ♪♪ The stone wall and
gazebo offer a perfect spot to post a selfie and
make your friends jealous of your adventure. But once you have found
your bearings the trek continues with a more
challenging part of the path. ♪♪ As the narrow
stone staircases begin, be sure of your footing. The stones can be slick,
even on dry days. Plus the trail shrinks and
expands randomly from four feet to two feet. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ You'll know you've reached the turnaround point after
a steep descent down a dirt path. If you're looking to trek
on, there are many paths to choose. If not, take a breather by
the river before hitting the trail back home. ♪♪ That wraps up this
episode of Iowa Outdoors. We encourage you to get
outside and enjoy Iowa's parks and recreational
opportunities. If you're planning any
outdoors travel, check out our extensive
video archive at iptv.org/iowaoutdoors. While our episodes will
continue to bring you outdoor adventures over
the Iowa air waves, be sure to follow us on
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for extended
features and extra content. And feel free to tag Iowa
Outdoors in your online posts. Who knows, you might
make it onto the show. For now, we'll leave you
with more images of Iowa's outdoor environments. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Funding for Iowa Outdoors is provided
by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa's natural
wonders you'll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR's
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov.

EP 809 | Iowa Outdoors
Tagged on:                                                 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *