Iowa Rivers: Vital Ecosystems in a "Sea of Agriculture"

Jul 18, 2017

Rivers are a vital part of Iowa's ecosystem.

Charity Nebbe interviews Jim Pease while canoeing the Skunk River
Credit Emily Woodbury

“Rivers in Iowa are the most important corridors of habitat, the ribbons of habitat, that we have left," says  wildlife biologist Jim Pease.

Over the past four summers Pease has paddled 1800 miles of Iowa rivers. On these trips he’s learned a lot about habitat, water quality, and human impact on the water ways. 

"We have drained 95 to 98 percent of the wetlands, we converted 99.9 percent of the prairies that were once here, even the woodlands are down to probably 30 or 40 percent of what was once here. So the rivers are the only corridors of habitat that we have left, and they are the most critical because of the connection through the landscape in what is otherwise a sea of agriculture."

On this special edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe paddles down the Skunk River in Story County with Pease to learn about the wildlife Iowa rivers support and the challenges they face.