Each year since 1986, American Rivers has released its America's Most Endangered Rivers report to spotlight the nation's ten most imperiled rivers. This year, the Cedar River found itself at #5 on the Most Endangered Rivers List. The Cedar River harbors globally rare plant communities, provides critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and is a popular paddling and angling destination. However, outdated flood management and poor watershed planning are impacting public health and safety by causing pollution and increasing the risk of flood damage. The Army Corps of Engineers must prioritize lower cost, non-structural flood management solutions on the Cedar River. These natural solutions will help reduce flood damage, improve water quality, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and provide recreational opportunities and economic benefits while saving taxpayer dollars.
The Corps’ Iowa-Cedar River Basin Study must incorporate the lessons learned from the devastating floods of 1993 and 2008 and rebuild smarter and stronger by incorporating multifunction non-structural solutions that provide flood protection, improve water quality, enhance fish and wildlife habitat, and provide recreational opportunities and economic benefits to local communities.
As a concerned citizen, I urge you to develop a holistic watershed-wide plan that prioritizes natural solutions to protect citizens and communities in the Cedar River Basin. I respectfully recommend that you incorporate the following non-structural solutions into the Iowa-Cedar River Basin Study.
* Public purchase of open space, development rights, and conservation easements.
* Voluntary conservation incentives for agricultural practices such as cover crops and perennials that help to reduce soil erosion and improve water quality. Conserve and restore the landscape’s natural ability to store floodwaters by protecting and restoring wetlands and other critical areas.
* Stream restoration that reconnects streams to side channels, abandoned channels, oxbows, and other portions of the floodplain.
* Floodplain zones for flood frequencies beyond 100 years.
* Setbacks for levees and dikes: where levees and dikes are absolutely necessary, set them back far enough to help re-establish more natural conditions in the near-channel portions of the floodplain.
* Property tax reduction for open space set-asides.
* Restoration of wetlands to protect against future flooding.
Thank you for considering my comments and I look forward to staying involved in the Cedar River planning efforts as they progress.