Kate Payne/IPR

The floodwaters have largely receded in Davenport, weeks after the Mississippi River crested at its highest level on record and flooded parts of downtown. The city is known for its progressive approach to flooding, giving the river more room to ebb and flow while other communities build walls. But the recent flooding is testing this philosophy of resilience.

Reunited: Wildlife Rehabber Brings Mother And Babies Back Together

May 20, 2019
Charity Nebbe

Wildlife rehabilitator Heather Bedard of Waterloo recently got a phone call about six baby raccoons that a homeowner had removed from a nest on his property. She asked him to help her reunite the babies with their mother and, although he initially refused, he eventually humanely trapped the mother.

The babies had been separated from their mother for four days, and Bedard was worried that the reunion would not go well. Turns out, she didn't need to worry.

"As soon as the babies made noise the mom perked up and you could tell she was frantic," Bedard says.

UNMIT /Martine Perret / Flickr

Early this month the UN's Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a summary of an upcoming 1,500-page report, where it states that one million plants, insects and animal species are on the verge of extinction.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Reporters in 14 newsrooms across the Midwest teamed up with InsideClimate News to explore local solutions to climate change.

The American Midwest is at a turning point as it confronts the global climate crisis. It's a landscape of opportunity, where investment is starting to pour into renewable energy, farmers are turning to climate-friendly practices, and automakers are introducing new electric vehicles. But its path forward is still cluttered with obstacles.

Kate Payne / IPR

Researchers and advocates have billed agricultural soil management as a powerful tool to capture and sequester carbon from the atmosphere and counteract global climate change. A coalition of international scientists has said the world must take drastic action in the coming years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, steps that will rely on key industries like agriculture. But on one farm in central Iowa, a scientist’s greenhouse gas research is leading to tough questions about how to manage her own land.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Smith

The UI's museum staff are offering to photoshop confetti into graduation photos for free, to encourage students to stop littering. 


Students across the country and across the globe are stepping out of their classrooms to demand action against climate change, including decreasing carbon emissions, supporting alternative energy sources and implementing climate change curriculum into schools. 

Kate Payne

Scientists at Luther College in Decorah have found signs of disease-causing bacteria and parasites in some northeast Iowa waters. The findings could be a concern in an area known for ecotourism and water recreation.


Animal waste and nitrogen-based agricultural fertilizers contribute to nitrate runoff, which ends up in creeks, streams, rain and, eventually, water systems. Nitrate, that mix of nitrogen and oxygen, can cause serious health problems if it’s too concentrated.

The best defense is filtering, which forests are great at doing. But a new study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service suggests forests are falling behind, and heavy rains brought on by climate change are making it worse.

Environmental Working Group / Iowa Public Radio

A survey of state data shows thousands of private wells in Iowa have been contaminated with nitrates and coliform bacteria. Under state law, most of Iowa’s private wells don’t have to be tested, and don’t have to meet water quality standards, leaving the residents who rely on them especially vulnerable.

Helaina Thompson / Iowa Public Radio

This conversation originally aired on June 29, 2017.

Iowa’s lakes play a huge role in the communities that have grown up around them. During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe takes a tour of Lake Delhi, open for the first full summer boating season this year after the dam burst due to heavy rainfall in 2010. We’ll hear from Steve Leonard, President of the Lake Delhi Recreation Association, and the engineer who is spending part of his retirement maintaining the dam.

Kate Payne / IPR file

The Upper Mississippi has been named the third most endangered river in the country, according to the national conservation group American Rivers, due to the practice of communities unlawfully building up levees.

Kate Payne / IPR

A handful of Iowa City students, parents and grandparents joined thousands of protestors around the world Friday in calling for action on climate change.


It’s been a spring to remember for the feathered residents of the North and Fish Hatchery eagle nests in Decorah.

Four eaglets have hatched in total, with only three surviving. The death of one eaglet at Decorah North follows a tumultuous year at the nests, leaden with heartbreak, missing mates, new courtships and even a couple housing renovations.

Hornick resident Dale Ronfeldt's garage in water in March 2019. A reporter joked with him that he had "lakefront property" and Ronfeldt joked, "you want to buy some?"
Katie Peikes / IPR file

As Iowans recover from devastating flooding along the Missouri River, Gov. Kim Reynolds is urging them to consider long-term sustainability. There are urgent short-term needs. But she says the state should work to ensure the same communities don’t flood year after year. 

guizmo_68 / Wikimedia Commons

This time of year nature lovers and ornithophiles alike can go out and witness the wild and wonderful mating displays of a strange looking little bird, the American Woodcock.  

"It's nothing I can define, it's nothing tangible, but boy, you spend a few evenings in the woods or on the edge of the woods watching these guys, and they just get into your heart like few other species can," says naturalist Greg Hoch.

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Brenda Brink of Huxley speaks in front of the Capitol at Wednesday's lawsuit announcement.
Grant Gerlock / IPR

State agencies should be required to take greater steps to improve water quality in the Raccoon River according to a new lawsuit filed Wednesday by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and Food and Water Watch.

The river provides drinking water for much of the Des Moines area, but it often carries excessive levels of nutrients from the farm fields that drain into it.

Christine Warner Hawks via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/christinehawks/14392501295/in/photolist-nVPkd4-TMTEXb-dFC3GW-aNDnvB-aNCVqT-asc5dz-bkyHJA-4RrZCb-4Rny6e-aseJa3-4qwnsL-aNCVHc-Gmyfpj-9bD6Jx-GuKwPM-268UxNo-dTM9Aj-Rr6swT-58v5mx-9k7rVZ-2aBNPnG-pkHJmC-rB5EDN-Rr6sse-67B8ga-qhwZdF-T

The Des Moines Water Works plans to do more testing for toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, after high levels were detected at a nearby military base. Groundwater contamination at the Iowa Air National Guard base in Des Moines is nearly 200 times the federal government’s health advisory, according to a recently published military analysis obtained by Iowa Public Radio.

Don Graham via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/23155134@N06/43926581151/

Iowa officials suspect chemical contamination at a military base in Sioux City could be reaching other wells in the area, including the private drinking wells of local residents. Recently published test results show a class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, were detected at the base at levels 100 times federal guidelines.

Katie Peikes/Iowa Public Radio

Gov. Kim Reynolds has issued a total of 43 countywide disaster proclamations in response to flooding that began on March 13. 

The impact has been widespread, but communities in southwestern Iowa continue to experience the heaviest impact, with many community members finding themselves displaced and assessing the damages of homes, properties, and businesses.

On this episode of River to River, we hear stories from three communities who continue to feel the effects of last week's flooding. 

This program features conversations with: 

Kate Payne / IPR

Tuesday is the last day for current and former residents of Muscatine to file a claim in a class action pollution case. Lawyers expect to receive approximately 3,000 requests from potential beneficiaries by the deadline.

John Grimm via flickr creative commons / https://www.flickr.com/photos/awesomecool/

The Green New Deal has broad-based support among Democratic voters, according to a new Iowa poll. Ninety-one percent of likely Democratic voters favor candidates who support the Green New Deal, according to the Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Democratic caucusgoers. 

Wikimedia Commns

Due to deep snow, plenty of ice, wild winds, and frigid temperatures, it has been a long, hard winter for all of us in Iowa. That includes the non-human residents. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Wildlife Biologist Jim Pease about the possible impact of harsh winter weather on wild animals here in Iowa.

Courtesy of Iowa DNR

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is working to control an invasive aquatic plant and improve access for boaters in the Iowa Great Lakes region.

Courtesy of CDC.gov

Iowa environmental officials are working on a plan to find out how many public water systems in the state are having problems with an element called manganese. High levels of this contaminant were recently found in a west-central Iowa city. 

josquin2000 / Flickr

Conservationists are bashing a plan to cut off state funding to buy public lands, at the state and local level. Critics are calling the bill “potentially disastrous” and a “direct attack on conservation”, and say the plan could undermine wildlife habitat, economic development and water quality.

Justin Hofman/National Geographic


Plastic is cheap, easy to manufacture and endlessly flexible. Over the last 70 years plastic has completely transformed the way we live. This innovation has created a global pollution crisis that threatens humans and wildlife, from the smallest of plankton to blue whales, with more than 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into oceans every year.

On this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with the co-leaders of National Geographic's "Source to Sea" plastics initiative, environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck, and marine biologist Heather Koldeway about the causes of this crisis, and steps we can take to reduce plastic pollution at home and around the world.

Monumental change is needed to reduce the impact of plastic on our planet's waterways, but Jambeck and Koldeway say small, everyday lifestyle advancements can help you do your part to reduce single use plastic waste.

Draft Final Site Inspection Report for PFOS and PFOA at Sioux City ANGB

An Iowa Air National Guard official says the agency supports further testing for groundwater contamination at a base in Sioux City. Preliminary results from a U.S. military report show high levels of toxic PFAS chemicals are present and may be spreading offsite. 

josquin2000 / Flickr

Officials at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have decided not to set numeric standards for water quality at the state’s recreational lakes. Environmental groups wanted specific limits on phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorophyll-a and water clarity.

Don Becker via USGS / https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rescued_Flood_Victims,_Coralville,_IA_(2593492801).jpg

The National Weather Service is raising certain flood stage categories along parts of the Iowa River. The revisions are intended to ensure flood warnings better reflect the impacts communities are seeing on the ground.