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In 2021, the Raccoon was named one of America's Most Endangered Rivers ® due to unmitigated pollution from factory farms. The same year, watershed landowners in Greene County found themselves faced with a new confinement hog nursery a mile away – and got busy trying to understand its impacts on their water, and that of their Des Moines neighbors not far down stream. Under the guidance of a nationally certified Izaak Walton League (IWLA) Save Our Streams (SOS) trainer, IWLA Panora Conservation chapter and Raccoon River Watershed Association members and others learned how to take SOS samples on four affected creeks. Additional stream sites have been identified as vulnerable.


The neighbors in this part of the watershed, known as Squirrel Hollow in honor of Iowa’s second oldest county park, find themselves bound by this pending tragedy and are keen to move forward together despite considerable differences. They want to meet and work in person, not online. They reflect a mix of ages and professions, and their experiences as landowners range from born in place to returning to a family homestead. Some farm full time, or are retired and volunteer full time. They farm the gamut – conventional to certified organic. Many are raising young children or hosting grandchildren. All of them are concerned about their water. Last year, they bought t-shirts showing their unity; this year they are continuing to monitor the streams and have continued conversations. And they would like to demonstrate the various tests in a family environment as a way of discussing water as a conservation value. 


In the summer of 2022 The Panora Conservation Chapter of the Izaak Walton League received an Endowment Grant from the IWL to support the “SOS - Save Squirrel Hollow” program.  RRWA members continue to work in coordination with the Panora Conservation Chapter of IWLA to coalesce public interest into action to safe-guard manure-threatened creeks by way of SOS team development, monthly monitoring, data dissemination (IWLA Clean Water Hub, presentation) and public education.  This effort is part of a larger conservation effort by partners that include landowners, the Raccoon River Watershed Association, the Des Moines Chapter of the IWL and the Upper Mississippi River Initiative (UMRI)/Minnesota Division.  The data collected is stored in the Clean Water Hub.  


Your membership helps support efforts like this in the Raccoon River Watershed.  If you are interested in helping out or learning more, please join our mailing list.  Check this page for periodic updates and upcoming monitoring dates.  Please contact us at if you’re interested in participating with ongoing SOS monitoring.

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