The group met at the District office at 5 p.m. Following introductions by SWCD Chairman Tom Oswald the group gathered outside the office where Area Engineer Brian Meyers gave a photo presentation of a Little Sioux Flood Prevention structure located in Pilot 23 that is experiencing some concrete degradation.
Originally the group was to go to the actual site, but because of wet conditions they looked at recent photos of the site. Meyers also showed photos of a structure in another county that experienced chute failure due to concrete degradation.
The next stop was at a Little Sioux Flood Prevention structure in Willow 3 that has lost its hydraulic capacity due to heavy sedimentation. Because the structure no longer offers much flood protection, the road below could be jeopardized during a very heavy rain. Participants had a lot of questions including why the pooling area couldn't just be dipped out. Area Engineer Brian Meyers explained that because of the large size of the pooling area it would be quite difficult and expensive to do.
The group then travelled on to a couple of famous archaeological sites in the county. The first one was in Pilot 4 near the City of Cherokee's sewer plant. Sanford Museum Archaeologist and SWCD Commissioner Jason Titcomb gave a historical presentation about one of the oldest sites in Iowa discovered in 1973. Titcomb discussed how human populations have occupied the Little Sioux Valley for over 10,000 years, and the excavations at the Cherokee Sewer Site were an opportunity to examine this.
Additionally, the research was landmark because the archaeological project not only looked at the oldest archaeology in Iowa, but also focused on environmental reconstruction, and analyzed how humans were interacting with changing environments. The next archaeological site the group travelled to was in Cherokee 4 which Fred Jaminet owns. Titcomb pointed out a terrace adjacent to Mill Creek, which is the location of a prehistoric farming village from almost 1000 years ago. He explained how people lived in larger groups as corn agriculture was adopted as a main food source.
He further explained that most of these villages were occupied for a relatively short time period about 50 to 75 years, and that with in this time period a village could be occupied more than once. The lifestyle and organization of these prehistoric people was also explained, and how soil deposits can be affected by humans. Titcomb said this can explain why some sites have deep archaeological deposits.
The last stop on the tour was in Cherokee 7 at the Cosgrove farm. State Technician Randy Jipp explained that, through the EQIP program, the Cosgroves are able to restore declining habitats with financial incentives.
This land has never been tilled or grazed by domestic animals. Native species and associated wildlife are being enhanced through systematic prescribed burns and the interseeding of local ecotype.
Following the tour participants went to Danny's Sports Spot where they enjoyed a delicious buffet meal. The commissioners held their regular meeting following the meal.
The commissioners and staff would like to thank all of the landowners and tenants and the presenters and to everyone who came to the tour for making their conservation tour a success. For photos from the event, see the 'SWCD Tour' Photo Gallery