Project name: Fox River
Watershed size: 321,280 acres
Year began: 1999
Year Complete: Ongoing
SWCD Contact: Davis
Purpose: Improve water quality, reduce flooding


Soil and Water Conservation District(s): Davis, Van Buren, Appanoose
Other partners: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Fox River Ecosystem Development Board


The Fox River Water Quality Project is a continuation of efforts begun in 2003 when grants from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) were first used to keep sediment out of the river.

Photo of technicians in Davis County
IDALS technicians finish checking a grade stabilization structure in Davis County.


Conservation districts in Davis, Van Buren and Appanoose Counties have worked with guidance from a 10-member board of landowners, businessmen, county supervisors, and conservationists to install best management practices in high sediment delivery areas. Sheet and gully erosion on cropland, and overgrazed pastures are primary causes of erosion and sediment in the Fox.

The Fox River Watershed offers funds from IDALS to landowners in the watershed based on a priority system that gives highest priority to applications that will result in the the greatest reduction of sediment reaching the river. A secondary goal is to reduce the ammonia and nitrogen that reaches the river.

As of 2008, more than 60 grade stabilization structures and 116 water and sediment control basins had been built in the watershed. Landowners had contributed more than $800,000, and IDALS had contributed more than $2 million from the Watershed Protection Fund. Other partners contributed about $320,000.

The project is expected to reduce the amount of sediment reaching the Fox River by 8,500 tons annually. Other practices landowners are using include prescribed grazing, timber stand improvement, terraces, and conservation buffers along the main channel of the Fox River.

Photo of surveyors in Van Buren county
Technicians checking a grade stabilization structure in Van Buren County.