Miller Creek Water Quality Improvement Project

It’s always a good time to make conservation plans. If you farm in the Miller or Rock Creek Watersheds (map on the reverse side) we have lots of conservation projects for you to consider. Even if you don’t farm in these locations, you can qualify for most of the funded conservation choices below.

Conservation Practices

Cover Crops –  We pay $30/acre for winter-hardy cover crops and $20/acre for winter kill cover crops. There is no acreage ceiling, we will pay for 1 acre of cover crops or 1,000.

No-Till/ Strip-Till –  We offer $10/acre for first time acres. Even if you are outside of the watersheds, we can obtain $10/acre for first-time strip or no-tillers. Other programs can pay you for four years…talk to us.

N – Inhibitor – Anyone farming in the Miller Creek Watershed can be paid $6/acre for implementing N-inhibitor. This is a one-time payment for acres on which it has never been applied. Nitrapyrin products only (e.g. N-Serve).

100% Funded Conservation Projects (Middle Cedar Watershed)

Constructed Wetlands – You may have a less productive low spot, a soggy end of a waterway, or other suitable locations. We will combine state and federal funds to pay 100% for all costs, including the land it occupies. This is a great opportunity to improve water quality and create excellent habitat for wildlife.

Saturated Buffers Under your control, tile drainage is diverted to a “distribution line” of perforated tile near a creek, where it drains through nonproducing land to the water. These work very well for removing nitrates and are easy to install. We pay 100%.

Oxbow Wetlands – An old bend of a stream can often be restored with tile water, making an excellent wetland assisting water quality and providing abundant habitat. We combine state and federal funds to pay 100% of the costs, and for the land on which it sits.

Woodchip Bioreactors – These sound technical, but they are simply an engineered storage pit filled with woodchips. Under your control, tile water enters and exits the pit where nitrates are removed by soil bacteria living on the chips. Once again, we pay for everything.


Talk to us! – We can connect you to NRCS resources and other funding opportunities to help you with your conservation goals.


Clark Porter, Environmental Specialist, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. 515-318-9857. E-mail: [email protected]




The next time you spill a cup of coffee outside, pay attention to where it flows. If it runs in the direction of a body of water named Rock Creek, you’re in luck (except for needing a new cup of coffee). There are, in fact, two Rock Creeks located in the region of Black Hawk and Tama Counties. Both watersheds are part of state sponsored water quality projects, and unique, enhanced funding is available for cover crops or other conservation practices.

One Rock Creek starts above Griffith Rd. in Black Hawk County, and spills into Wolf Creek in Tama County (below Buckingham). Cost-share funds are available to pay for cover crops and no-till/strip till anywhere in the watershed. There’s no acreage limit or wait-time to apply. State and federal funds can also be combined to pay for 100% of the cost for edge-of-field projects like wetlands or saturated buffers. To find out more, call Clark Porter, IDALS Environmental Specialist, at (515) 318-9857, or Jenna Curran at (319) 296-3262 extension 3.

The other Rock Creek starts near Dysart and ends east of LaPorte City. For anyone in the Watershed, targeted funds are available to pay for cover crops, strip-till/no-till, prairie strips, and more. Likewise, state and federal funds can be combined to pay 100% of the costs for edge-of-field projects. To find out more, call Rose Danaher, Benton-Tama Nutrient Reduction Project Coordinator at (515) 776-2764.

If you plan on protecting your soil, and Rock Creek is where your spilled coffee flows, then we can help you with cash flow. Go with the flow and give us a call.


Clark Porter, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Rose Danaher, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.



Black Hawk SWCD Newsletter

The Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District Spring Newsletter can be viewed using the link below.

Black Hawk SWCD Newsletter



DRC Selected as Prairie Rapids Audubon Society Grant Recipient

The Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District is grateful for being awarded funds and selected as a recipient of the Prairie Rapids Audubon Society (PRAS) grant. PRAS’s contribution will be utilized to continue the Dry Run Creek water monitoring program. Water monitoring is an essential component for any successful watershed improvement project and serves to collect data, track progress, and identify potential areas of concern. For the last six years, this has been accomplished through a partnership with the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Earth and Environmental Science Department and the Biology Department. This program gives UNI students an opportunity for experiential learning in the areas of laboratory analysis and field sampling. Both of these are essential in many science-based fields and will provide skills they can take into their future career paths.

PRAS is a local chapter of the National Audubon Society serving Black Hawk, Grundy, Butler, Bremer, Buchanan, and Hardin Counties. The mission of Prairie Rapids Audubon “shall be to engage in programs that provide, to members of the public, education about and appreciation for birds; increased knowledge and awareness of birds and birding; and conservation, preservation and restoration of natural bird habitat for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity.” You can find further information on their website at

We look forward to this new partnership with another wonderful community conservation organization. Past supporters of the Dry Run Creek water monitoring program include the Iowa Corn Growers, Black Hawk County Farm Bureau, Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance, and VGM Group. Thank you!

Pictured: Dre Presswood, Dry Run Creek 2020 water monitoring intern


Launch into Conservation!

If you wonder what it’s like to be Elon Musk and attract investors before you launch a project, we have some good news for you! We have cost-share funds to “invest” in your conservation ventures. Contact conservation staff from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, or the Black Hawk County Natural Resources Conservation Service. Call (319) 296-3262 or (515) 318-9857. We’d be happy to talk about any of the following:

Cover Crops – Sign up now while funding and seed are readily available. Our special watershed projects in Miller and Rock Creeks pay up to $30 dollars per acre. Other programs in the county will pay from $15 to $25. Federal programs pay cost-share too. You may be eligible for one or several of these opportunities. You’ve planned for your cash crop – now is a good time to plan for your soil health.

Edge-of-Field Projects – Wetlands, saturated buffers, and woodchip bioreactors remove nitrates from water leaving your farm. State and federal funds can be combined to pay 100% of the costs. Do a favor for those downstream when you want to, instead of later when you might have to. It’s appreciated, and it’s currently cost free. Call Clark Porter at (515) 318-9857.

Grassed waterways, prairie strips, no-till, nutrient management, the list goes on... Federal and state cost-share funds will invest with you in practices that preserve your farm and your legacy.

Dream big and contact us soon. You don’t have to pay us back. The only dividend we expect is healthier soil on your farm and cleaner water for everyone.


Clark Porter, IDALS Environmental Specialist, 515-318-9857

Jenna Curran, IDALS Conservation Assistant, 319- 296-3262

Tylar Midden, NRCS Soil Conservationist, 319-296-3262

Or visit the Black Hawk County Soil and Water Conservation District website at:


2021 Poster Contest

2021 Conservation Districts of Iowa

Poster Contest

  • Poster contest is open to all students grades K-12
  • Poster MUST reflect and include this years theme “Healthy Forests =Healthy Communities”
  • Entries are due by April 23, 2021 — Submit your poster to 2950 Southland Dr. Waterloo, IA 50701
  • All posters must have an entry form attached
  • Winning posters will be displayed in the NRCS/SWCD lobby and submitted for regional competition
  • The poster size can range from 8.5 x11 to 22×28 inches and any mediums can be used

See poster contest rules for more information!

Entry Form



Black Hawk SWCD Fall Newsletter

The Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District Fall Newsletter can be viewed using the link below.





Meet the Soil & Water Commissioners Running for Election

Vernon Fish

Vern is a retired professional conservationist and still teaches resource management.  Vern spends a lot of time paddling, hiking, skiing and mountain biking along Black Hawk Creek.  As a result he is dedicated to improving water quality and enhancing waterways in Iowa.  As a native Iowan, he also understands the many challenges facing producers who are trying to make a living and protect their valuable soil.  Our challenge is sustaining our agricultural heritage while enhancing soil health and maintaining our water quality.  Serving on the Black Hawk County Soil & Water Conservation District allows Vern to focus his skills and passion on this challenge.

Geraldine ‘Jeri’ Thornsberry

Jeri currently serves as chair of the Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District and she also serves as secretary on the board of Conservation Districts of Iowa, an association that represents all 500 elected commissioners throughout the state of Iowa. Jeri is passionate about conservation whether in the urban or rural sections of Black Hawk County. It is her wish that citizens in Black Hawk County continue to support conservation practices designed to promote sustainable agricultural practices on rural land while also expanding conservation practices in urban areas. She believes that we are all in this together.

Russell Wright

Russell was born and raised on a farm in Barclay Township in Blackhawk County. Russell has farmed with his parents ever since he was old enough to ride on a tractor with them.  Russell has a passion for conservation and leaving his land, and the earth, in better condition for his kids than when he got it.  To accomplish this goal he has employed several conservation practices on his own farm and hopes to encourage others to do so as well.  Since retiring from John Deere after 30 years, Russell now has the time to focus on spreading the message of conservation.  Russell enjoys being a parent, and now a grandparent, being outdoors and grilling/outdoor cooking.

News Uncategorized

Entering Dry Run Creek Watershed

When traveling on Grundy Rd off of West Ridgeway you may notice a new sign letting you know you are Entering Dry Run Creek Watershed! Thank you to Iowa DNR for financing the sign through DRCWIP, as well as the Black Hawk County Engineering Department for working with us by contributing posts and installing the sign, and the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors for approving the sign to be place at this location.

Pictured below (left to right) are Black Hawk County Soil and Water Conservation District Vice-Chair Sherman Lundy and Chair Jeri Thornsberry, Black Hawk Natural Resource Conservation Service District Conservationist Shaffer Ridgeway, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Conservation Assistant Jenna Curran, and Department of Natural Resources Dry Run Creek Watershed Coordinator Josh Balk.


Women Landowner Days: A Four-Part Online Learning Series

For over a decade, Women, Food and Agriculture Network has organized fun and informative meetings for women landowners providing information, connections, and encouragement they need to take good care of their land. In partnership with Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District, a FREE four-part online learning series is being offered from July-August 2020 for women who own or manage farmland in Black Hawk County, Iowa and are interested in learning about profitable farming methods that can help improve water quality and soil health.

The first meeting of this series will study the advantages for landowners and their farmer when shifting to soil-improving farming methods led by Dr. Jean Eells The second meeting features agronomist Sarah Carlson from Practical Farmers of Iowa to elaborate upon the limitations and opportunities of equipment when using cover crops and no-till methods as well as which farming basics are barriers to better soil and water quality and which are not. The third meeting covers the ins and outs of setting a fair rent as explained by Mollie Aronowitz of People’s Company. The fourth meeting is led by lawyer Ed Cox, who will discuss leasing options and considerations for when passing on the land some day.

There is no pressure to adopt any new management style—we simply want to offer you the resources, knowledge, and tools to confidently manage your land. The meetings will be held from 1:00-2:30PM CT on Zoom, a virtual meeting platform. Participation in all four meetings is required for registration:

Black Hawk County Learning Series
July 2 | July 23 | Aug 13 | Aug 20

To ensure a high-quality experience, we are capping participation at 20 per learning series, offered on a first-come first-served basis! Please reserve your spot by registering by 8PM Tuesday, June 30th at Zoom access information will be sent within the registration confirmation email. For any questions or additional information, contact Moselle at 563-223-3141 or [email protected] We hope you can join us!

Please note: This learning series is also offered in Polk County in partnership with Polk Soil and Water Conservation District from 1:00-2:30PM CT on the following dates:

Polk County Learning Series
July 1 | July 22 | Aug 12 | Aug 19

This program is funded in part by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer, Lender. If you need special accommodation to participate, please contact Moselle using the information above.

About Black Hawk SWCD

Black Hawk Soil and Water Conservation District has been promoting conservation of natural resources to the residents of Black Hawk County, Iowa since 1945. Cost-share and other incentive-based programs have been a cornerstone of the District’s long-standing success. With the evolution of urban conservation from our agricultural roots, we now have a watershed-based project related to urban watershed management and are developing programs to directly address stormwater management concerns in developing areas and surrounding cities in Black Hawk County. It is our vision to bring local jurisdictions together to address storm water concerns, using similar approaches, consistent and coordinated drainage data, and collaboration through a central storm water committee for the county.