CSP Rule Comments Accepted Through January 20, 2015

Have you submitted your comments  on the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) rule yet? This is the last chance to share your thoughts before the rule becomes final. The Center for Rural Affairs put together a fantastic guide for farmers and concerned citizens to submit their comments. Take a moment today and submit your comments to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and be a part of making a good program better!

2015 Main Street Iowa Application Workshops

To be eligible to submit an application for Main Street Iowa designation, community representatives must participate in a Main Street Iowa Application Workshop.

Main Street Iowa will host three regional application workshops in March covering topics ranging from the basics of the Main Street Approach® and program services of Main Street Iowa to the mechanics of completing an application in 2015 for Main Street Iowa designation, selection criteria, application distribution and review.

Dates and Locations
Monday, March 23, 2015, 1 – 5 p.m.
Cliff’s Place
417 Main Street
Manning, Iowa

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 1 – 5 p.m.
Appanoose Rapids Brewing Company
332 East Main Street
Ottumwa, Iowa

Thursday, March 26, 2015, 1 – 5 p.m.
Cedar Falls Public Library (2nd floor meeting room)
524 Main Street
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Walk-ins will be accepted, but pre-registration is encouraged and appreciated to ensure adequate space and materials for participants. Those who pre-register will receive a digital copy of the 2015 Main Street Iowa Application prior to the workshop.

Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Application_Workshop to register.

Contact Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator at 515.725.3051 or michael.wagler@iowa.gov with questions.

1000 Friends of Iowa Announces 2014 Best Development Award Winners


MEDIA CONTACT: Siobhan Spain, 515-707-2783, awards@1000friendofiowa.org

January 8, 2014 (Des Moines, Iowa) – 1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 Best Development Awards. The awards program showcases projects that recognize connections between building development and quality of life. With a mission focused on responsible land use, 1000 Friends of Iowa promotes smart growth planning principles that help achieve communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable.

Please join 1000 Friends of Iowa in acknowledging the hard work of the 2014 Best Development Award winners, and promoting the good happening in our communities that make Iowa great:

1. New Residential: Madison Flats, Des Moines
Neighborhood Development Corporation cleaned up a contaminated site to build an apartment building and spark further developments in a blighted neighborhood with potential. Located across the river from Principal Park, Madison Flats is positioned to make a “catalytic impact in the Two Rivers District, encouraging other good projects in the area,” as one Best Development Award juror stated.

2. Renovated Residential (Co-Winners):
a. 1924 Leyner Street, Des Moines
The ambitious project by Indigo Dawn relocated a dilapidated Victorian-era bungalow and transformed it into a 1500 square foot home with a full basement, porch and updated amenities. It features include an insulated basement floor and walls; diverse stormwater management practices; and use of salvage and recycled materials.
b. 4818 Urbandale Avenue, Des Moines
Not deterred by gaping holes in the roof, a crumbling garage, and a bathtub ready to fall through the floor, David Barzen of Sterling Investments recognized that the 1920 Beaverdale Craftsman had “good bones.” The project is an example of how one person’s passion can make a difference that inspires a community. The neighborhood nuisance property is now home to a grateful family.

3. New Commercial/Civic: Viking Center, Stanton
A strong group of Stanton, Iowa, residents persevered over seven years to plan, build and dedicate the City’s Viking Center, a public building featuring a preschool, library, wellness center, walking track, gymnasium, multi-purpose community room and 625-person tornado shelter. In a community with a population of 700, over 400 people formed a “human chain” six blocks long, passing books hand to hand from the old library to the new center.

4. Renovated Commercial/Civic: Green Pilot Streetscape Project, West Union
A RAGBRAI event motivated community members to turn a standard streetscape infrastructure project into a downtown sustainable revitalization endeavor that included the renovation of 10 building facades; a district geothermal heating and cooling system; and a comprehensive stormwater management project. The Best Development Award jurors join the many voices concurring that this is simply an amazing story.

5. Mixed Use: 421 Main Street, Slater
In 2006, a dilapidated vacant building in Slater, Iowa, collapsed leaving a large clean-up bill, public safety and health concerns, and an economic development void. Learning from this trying event, City of Slater turned another nuisance property into an impactful opportunity. The renovated mixed use building acts as a beacon for other communities faced with similar challenges.

6. Leadership: Woodbine Main Street District, Woodbine
The work began in 2007 when the western Iowa town of 1,500 residents acknowledged their downtown, comprised of three square blocks with 10 vacant and decaying buildings, must be addressed. Prioritizing collaboration, pursuing diverse funding sources and accomplishing project after project has enabled Woodbine to reap the economic and community-building benefits of revitalizing existing assets.

7. Stormwater Management: Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project’s Green Alley Program, Dubuque
The urban municipality’s ambitious 12-phase 20 -year community flood mitigation project retrofits alley infrastructure within the city’s Bee Branch Watershed with pervious pavement. By allowing stormwater to soak into the ground, Dubuque is able to reduce stormwater runoff by up to 80%, replenish the groundwater, and lessen the amount of pollutants entering the storm sewer system and ultimately the Mississippi River.

The Best Development Awards are selected from a pool of applications each year and judged by an independent group of jurors. This year’s jurors included Ryan Peterson of Impact7G, Iowa State University graduate student Kristen Greteman, and City of Ankeny Community Development Director John Peterson. Plaques commemorating each 2014 Best Development Awards recipient will be presented to the winners individually.

1000 Friends of Iowa, founded in 1998, is a statewide nonprofit organization focused on land use education. Its mission is to unite Iowans in efforts to protect farmland and natural areas, revitalize neighborhoods, towns and cities, and improve quality of life for future generations.

Additional details about each winning project and 1000 Friends of Iowa’s smart growth priorities can be found at www.1000FriendsofIowa.org.


Press Release: 2014 Best Development Award Winners

2014 Best Development Awards Recipients

1000 Friends of Iowa is pleased to present the recipients of the 2014 Best Development Awards! Take a moment to learn more about each recipient and join us in congratulating them!

  • New Residential: Madison Flats, Des Moines
  • Renovated Residential: (Co-Winners) 1924 Leyner Street, Des Moines & 4818 Urbandale Avenue, Des Moines
  • New Commercial/Civic: Viking Center, Stanton
  • Renovated Commercial/Civic: Green Pilot Streetscape Project, West Union
  • Mixed Use: 421 Main Street, Slater
  • Leadership: Woodbine Main Street District, Woodbine
  • Stormwater Management: Bee Branch Watershed Flood Mitigation Project’s Green Alley Program, Dubuque


Excellent article on livable communities by Robert Steuteville, Better Cities & Towns

What is a livable community, anyway?

by Robert SteutevilleBetter Cities & Towns

A walkable community is the most common term to describe the alternative to drive-only suburbia. Walkability is easy to explain but uninspiring. Walking is so basic to human life that we often take it for granted. Perhaps a better term is livability.

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Iowans should invest in water quality

Quad City Times, September 17, 2014

by Tony Thompson and Jennifer Terry

Farmers are “stewards of the land”. Most Iowans have heard this expression growing up—the notion that farmers responsibly care for the land in order to leave it better than they found it for future generations. These are the true environmentalists, and there are still Iowa farmers who fit the stewardship image.

Many Iowa farmers have been practicing good stewardship on their land for decades—sometimes with, sometimes without government incentives. They use their own money to build wetlands and ponds in order to create habitat and keep rain water—and the soil and nutrients it carries with it—from washing onto their neighbor’s fields. They ensure there are buffers alongside streams, and they plant crops a reasonable distance from waterways. They see the land as more than just a commodity.

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Article by Peter Coy Highlights Negative Consequences of Land Use Policies

The County Map That Explains Ferguson’s Tragic Discord by Peter Coy

What does a map have to do with a riot? Everything, in the case of Ferguson, Mo., where a police officer shot dead a black teenager, some residents looted and rioted, and police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

The map of St. Louis County, the home of Ferguson, looks like a shattered pot. It’s broken into 91 municipalities that range from small to tiny, along with clots of population in unincorporated areas. Dating as far back as the 19th century, communities set themselves up as municipalities to capture control of tax revenue from local businesses, to avoid paying taxes to support poorer neighbors, or to exclude blacks. Their behavior has ranged from somewhat parochial to flatly illegal.

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One Family, Two Views on How to Run Iowa Farm

by John Biewen and Rob Dillard

NPR, April 28, 2008

It’s a good time to be a farmer in Iowa. Corn prices, at $5.91 per bushel as of Monday, are soaring in part because of growing demand for ethanol, a corn-based fuel that the federal government supported when it passed the energy bill late last year. And with help from chemicals and biotechnology, Iowa farmers produce 150 bushels of corn per acre, nearly double the yield in 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Griffieon family has owned a farm in Ankeny, Iowa, since 1868 — spanning six generations — and has witnessed the growth.

Craig and LaVon Griffieon and their three children raise corn, soybeans and livestock on 1,150 acres. Their stock of antibiotic-free Limousin cattle has roamed the farm since 1960. For more than a decade, they have also offered pasture-raised poultry.

For the first time in years, the Griffieons say they’re doing well financially, but they’re ambivalent about the direction of American agriculture.

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IA’s Topsoil Rule: Changes Could Worsen Flooding by John Michaelson, Public News Service-IA

(06/27/14) DES MOINES, Iowa – In an agricultural state such as Iowa, topsoil is one of the most valued natural resources. But concerns are being raised about possible changes to the state’s rules about replacing topsoil at construction sites.

As it stands now, if one acre or more of land is disturbed during construction of a home or business and there’s at least four inches of topsoil present, it must be restored unless that isn’t feasible. Some developers want that requirement eased because of cost, so options are now being considered, according to Adam Schnieders with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

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Looking for the straight scoop — Will Iowa’s topsoil rule get bulldozed? by Todd Dorman

Some folks are looking hard for more dirt on Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.

I’m just looking for some in my yard.

Nearly seven years ago, we moved from an older neighborhood in Ames to our newish, late ’90s subdivision on the north side of Marion. When the first spring in our new digs arrived, we set out to do some landscaping, flower beds, bushes, etc.

What we found out fast was that our sod was sitting on thick, compacted clay subsoil. Whatever topsoil had existed before this cornfield became a housing development was pretty much gone. It was an unpleasant surprise. I later learned that builders often strip the topsoil to make it easier to use heavy equipment on a worksite and speed up building. And in many cases, they don’t put much, or any, of it back. Sometimes, the topsoil is sold.

Now, whenever I plant anything in our yard, in fertile Iowa, for Pete’s sake, I have to buy dirt in a bag from a store. And having any decent grass means dumping a bunch of chemicals on my lawn. This is not an unusual story in the sprawling subdivisions of suburban Iowa.

“Most subsoils in Iowa are clay-based. The permeability is low to begin with,” said Joe Griffin, who leads the wastewater permitting program for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “And then run over it a few times with large equipment, that does not increase the permeability. When they’re done building the lots, they put a layer of sod on, which has a layer of topsoil on it. But it’s a small layer, three-quarters of an inch to an inch.”

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People United for Responsible Land Use