Midwest Book Awards, Nonfiction - Nature, winner

In the last 200 years, Iowa’s prairies and other wildlands have been transformed into vast agricultural fields. This massive conversion has provided us with food, fiber, and fuel in abundance. But it has also robbed Iowa’s land of its native resilience and created the environmental problems that today challenge our everyday lives: polluted waters, increasing floods, loss and degradation of rich prairie topsoil, compromised natural systems, and now climate change. 

In a straightforward, friendly style, Iowa’s premier scientists and experts consider what has happened to our land and outline viable solutions that benefit agriculture as well as the state’s human and wild residents. 

“As a lifelong Iowan, this tapestry of science, history, and personal stories moved me to think about our changing climate and my own actions. While many of our current circumstances seem dire, Connie and the amazing team of contributors gave me hope by shining a bright light on the path forward.”—Joe McGovern, president, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation 


“A must read for all Iowans. The careful scientific works and personal stories are enlightened reading regarding declines in Iowa’s environmental quality and how regenerative agriculture, ecosystem protection, and restoration can provide a viable middle ground to maintain and utilize diverse natural ecosystems in meeting the challenges of adapting to climate change, reducing flooding, and improving soil and water quality while maintaining diverse natural ecosystems.”—Daryl Smith, former director, Tallgrass Prairie Center


“This dynamic history of Iowa’s water, soil, and air, paired with specific ideas for preserving and protecting our natural resources, is an excellent text for teachers and students studying environmental issues. The scientific data balanced with personal stories of Iowa’s environmental scholars makes this book appealing to a wide audience.”—Barbara Ehlers, Upper Iowa University 


Tending Iowa’s Land is inspiring, as it is filled with examples of Iowans working to restore native plants, animals, and resources. May a host of other landowners join themand the impressive group of academics and other professionals in this bookin leading our way to a resilient, regenerative future.”—Teresa Opheim, director, Climate Land Leaders



Introduction xi

Iowa’s Life and Land: A Brief History ◆ Cornelia F. Mutel 1


Chapter 1. The Root of Our Problems: Iowa’s Degraded Soils ◆ Kathleen Woida 23

Farming for the Future: A Personal Story ◆ Ken Fawcett 31

Chapter 2. Slurries of Sediment: The Problem of Soil Erosion ◆ Keith E. Schilling 35

Working with Mother Earth: A Personal Story ◆ Seth Watkins 45

Chapter 3. Pushing the Limits: The Intensification of Agriculture ◆ Christopher S. Jones 49

Farming My Values: A Personal Story ◆ Levi Lyle 59

Chapter 4. The Regenerative Agriculture Movement: A Vision for the Future ◆ Lisa Schulte Moore 63


Chapter 5. Loving the Lakes: Water as a Recreational Asset ◆ Mary P. Skopec 81

Creating Iowa Project AWARE: A Personal Story ◆ Brian Soenen 89

Chapter 6. Tracing the Trends: Improving Iowa’s Water Quality ◆ Keith E. Schilling and Christopher S. Jones 93

Arsenic in the Well: A Personal Story ◆ Brian Hanft 103

Chapter 7. Rising Rivers, Raising Resilience: Flooding in Iowa ◆ Witold F. Krajewski 107

Conserving the Family Farm: Pat’s Story ◆ Jim Furnish 115

Chapter 8. Water-Centered Land Management: A Vision for the Future ◆ Larry Weber 119


Chapter 9. A Healthier, More Functional Planet: Global Implications of Climate Change ◆ Charles O. Stanier 137

Forty-Five Minutes of Sheer Terror: A Personal Story ◆ Carole Teator 147

Chapter 10. Choosing a Better Future: Climate Change in Iowa ◆ William J. Gutowski, Jr. 151

Clean Energy at the Universal-Local Level: A Personal Story ◆ Andrew Johnson 161

Chapter 11. Ongoing Transformation: Climate Change and Agriculture ◆ Eugene S. Takle 165

Curtailing Climate Change on the Farm: A Personal Story ◆ Francis Thicke 175

Chapter 12. A Soft Landing for Climate Change: A Vision for the Future ◆ Gregory R. Carmichael 179


Chapter 13. The Ties That Bind: Biodiversity’s Critical Importance ◆ Elizabeth A. Lynch 199

Preserving the Fen: A Personal Story ◆ Rebecca L. Kauten 209

Chapter 14. Knitting It Back Together: Iowa’s Tallgrass Prairie ◆ Pauline Drobney 213

Making a Difference: A Personal Story ◆ Ronald Eckoff 223

Chapter 15. Survival Struggles, Survival Hopes: Wildlife in Iowa ◆ James L. Pease 227

Wild Calls for Help: A Personal Story ◆ Marlene Warren Ehresman 237

Chapter 16. Iowa’s Rich Biodiversity Legacy: A Vision for the Future ◆ Thomas Rosburg 241

Regenerating Our Future: A Call to Action ◆ Jerald L. Schnoor 253

Contributors 263

Acknowledgments 273

Index 275

Winner - 2023 Midwest Book Awards in Nonfiction - Nature

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