Big Creek Watershed landowners Steve and Rob Hansen have been working for more than a decade to transform their property from a marginal pasture into a wildlife area that will be enjoyed for years to come. Over the years, this father and son have planted thousands of walnuts, oaks, ash and willows to restore the timbered buffer that once surrounded Little Creek, which runs through their property.

Alongside their restored timber is five acres of native prairie planting enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). In addition to rejuvenating their property’s land use, the Hansens were interested in addressing some severely eroding sections of Little Creek running through their property. After seeing their trees falling into the stream year after year, they decided it was time to take action. The landowners also understood that because their land was located less than three miles upstream of Big Creek Lake, their streambank was directly affecting the amount of sediment entering the lake.

Steve and Rob worked for over a year with project coordinators and NRCS staff to plan their multi-phase stabilization project on the severely eroding section of their creek. They also utilized the Big Creek Lake Watershed Project Cost-Share Program to fund the project. Phase I of the stabilization was completed this fall and is stopping 109 tons of sediment from entering Big Creek Lake each year, along with 185 pounds of phosphorous. Phase II is planned to be completed in 2014 and will stabilize the next section of streambank.

The Big Creek Lake Watershed Project will continue its efforts to increase water quality and assist watershed landowners. As we move into 2014, project coordinators will continue constructing practices, educating the public and providing technical assistance to local landowners. Local residents and landowners can also look forward to spring events, including the annual Big Creek Appreciation Day, a wildlife management seminar and a woman’s landowner workshop.

The Big Creek Lake Watershed Project is brought to you by the Division of Soil Conservation, Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship and by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Nonpoint Source Management Program (Section 319 of the Clean Water Act).