Approximately 25% of Iowa’s land area was once in some form of a wetland ecosystem, a number that today has been reduced by upwards of 95%. Although extensive efforts have been made to restore these vital ecosystems, substantial work remains to regain the ecological function they once provided. These ecological functions include flood abatement and attenuation, water purification, ground water recharge, and provisioning of habitat for a rich diversity of plants and animals endemic to the state and often tied closely with wetland ecosystems. Despite the loss of wetland ecosystems in Iowa, a remarkable diversity remain and more are restored or created across the state each year. Among extant wetlands today we find a wide range of sizes, management, wildlife habitat, use by humans, and functions for other ecosystem goods and services like flood abatement and water quality.
Explore Iowa's wetlands from the air
With support from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Nutrient Research Center, Iowa State University educators created a series of videos exploring Iowa wetlands from the air. Check out the YouTube playlist at this link or choose from the list below to see the videos and learn more about the diversity of wetlands found in Iowa.
|Introduction to Iowa's Wetlands|
|Fen Wetland - Forever Fen, Franklin County|
Prairie Pothole Wetland - Bjorkboda Marsh, Hamilton County
|Urban Stormwater Wetland - Riverside Park, Webster City, Hamilton County|
|Oxbow Wetland - Waterford Park, Urbandale, Polk County|
|Vernal Pool Wetland - Eastern Iowa|
|Riverine Wetland - Sweet Marsh, Bremer County|
River Backwater Wetland - Pool Slough, Allamakee County
|Beaver Pond Wetlands - Boone County|
|Nutrient treatment wetlands|
|Wildlife habitat in Iowa wetlands|
|Recreation in Iowa wetlands|
|Finding an Iowa wetland near you|
Learn more about Iowa's Wetlands
Webinar on the Profiles in the Wonders of Iowa's Wetlands (recorded May 25, 2021)
|Learn more about wetlands and other aquatic ecosystems in Iowa in the article titled Aquatic Environments from the Iowa's Nature Series. The article is also available in Spanish.|
|Learn more about wetlands as a water quality practice in this article from the Iowa Watershed Approach project.|
|Learn about the major types of wetlands found in Iowa and their ecology and conservation in this short infographic.|
|Discover if a wetland is right for you with this Whole Farm Conservation Best Practices Manual. The manual includes information on wetlands (pages 26 & 27) as well as a decision tree on which edge of field practices is right for you (pages 53-56).|
Learn more about wetland conservation in Iowa
- Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
- Information on Iowa Wetlands from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
- The Soil and Water Conservation Society's Conservation Media Library features different resources on wetlands including over 50 photos of wetlands installed across Iowa.
- Many organizations are involved in wetland restoration and conservation in Iowa. Here's some of their websites
- Natural Resources Conservation Service
- The Nature Conservancy
- The Nature Conservancy has created an informative Oxbow Restoration Toolkit for Iowans interested in restoring these unique type of wetlands on their land.
- Ducks Unlimited
If you'd like to learn more about restoring wetlands on land you own or have influence over, visit with a local conservation professional from Natural Resources Conservation Service, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, or local organizations. You can find contact information for many of these professionals in your county with our contacts feature.