Land Cover (2016)
The map and pie chart below illustrate land use in the
Helmer Creek-Buffalo Creek Watershed. Land cover information for the entire Upper Wapsi River Watershed, as well as information on historical cover, land ownership, and livestock production, can be found on the Land
Cover/Land Use page.
The Helmer Creek-Buffalo Creek Subwatershed lays on the Iowan Surface and the East-Central Drift Plain. The physical characteristics of the Iowan Surface landform region contain numerous clues to Iowa’s glacial history. The Iowan Surface also contains some Karst features, such as sinkholes, influence hydrology and provide unique challenges with implementation of detention structures like ponds and WASCOBs. The East-Central Drift Plain also called the Southern Iowa Drift Plain is characteristic of it gently rolling landscape. For more information about the Southern Iowa Drift Plain, visit https://www.iihr.uiowa.edu/igs/southern-iowa-drift-plain/
Water Quality Sampling Data
The Upper Wapsipinicon River WMA monthly takes a monthly water sample snapshot at locations across the watershed. More information about water sampling in the Upper Wapsi River Watershed and results for Nitrate, Phosphorus, Total Suspended Solids, E. Coli Bacteria, Chloride, and Sulfate are all available.
Iowa DNR Water Sampling Results
Past and Ongoing Watershed Projects
The Upper Buffalo Creek Water Quality Project
- Project Period: 2010-2014
- Lead Entity and Partners: Buchanan SWCD funded by Iowa’s Watershed Improvement Review Board, IDALS, USDA, NRCS, FSA
- Major Accomplishments: Through this project, landowners and farmers implemented 68 grass waterways which lowered the sediment delivery to Buffalo creek. Many acres of cover crops, critical planting areas, filter strips, native plantings, contour buffer strips and upgraded animal waste storage facilities were implemented.
- Project Summary: Practices implemented through the Upper Buffalo Creek Water Quality project reduces sediment delivery by an estimated 4,400 tons per year (About a 20% reduction). Phosphorus levels were also reduces by an estimated 5,700 pounds per year. These reductions greatly improved the creek substrate and improved habitat for native mussel species. The Iowa DNR Statewide Mussel Survey showed that the total mussel population and number of mussel species has rebounded significantly in Buffalo Creek by 2013 as a result of the Upper Buffalo Creek Water Quality project. According to the Iowa DNR Statewide Mussel Survey, four of the live mussel species found are on Iowa’s threatened animal species list. As a result from this project five segments of Buffalo creek, representing 58 miles, were removed from the Iowa impaired waters list in 2014.
- Report: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-12/documents/ia_buffalo_creek_1634_508_1.pdf
The Middle Buffalo Creek Water Quality Project
- Project Period: 2015
- Lead Entity and Partners: Buchanan SWCD funded by Iowa’s Watershed Improvement Review Board and IDALS
- Major Accomplishments: Installed an additional 12 conservation practices in addition to the Upper Buffalo Creek project.
- Project Summary: This project provided cost-share funds for water quality project improvement practices. The Buchanan County SWCD partnered with the City of Coggon who was utilizing funds from the State Revolving Fund Water Resources Restoration Sponsored Project. However difficulties arose when SRF funds fell through. Therefore, the project ended after just one year of implementation. During one year the project was able to implement 27 acres of grass waterways, which lead to a sediment reduction of 1,100 tons per year and a phosphorus reduction of 1,300 pounds per year. During this project the Project Coordinator conducted outreach to landowners in Middle Buffalo Creek watersheds including a news release and information booth at the Buchanan County Fair.
- Final Report: http://publications.iowa.gov/26545/1/1246-022%20Middle%20Buffalo%20Creek%20FINAL%20Report.pdf
Helmer Creek-Buffalo Creek was last surveyed for fish species in 2001 by the Iowa DNR. The Fish Index of Biotic Integrity (FIBI) results showed Helmer Creek-Buffalo Creek containing many common and rare warm water fish species such as Smallmouth Bass, Bigmouth Shiner, Sand Shiner, and Golden Redhorse. Check out the Iowa DNR BioNet website to see the full results of the FIBI and others relating to river and stream biological monitoring.
No impairments at this time.
Precipitation and Soil Erosion
The Daily Erosion Project estimates soil erosion and water runoff occurring on hill slopes in Iowa and surrounding states. Compare Helmer Creek-Buffalo Creek subwatershed with other watersheds in the Upper Wapsi or with watersheds across the Upper Midwest at https://www.dailyerosion.org/map