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by Roger Ross Gipple

What many call Iowa was once one of Earth’s most biodiverse places. More recently it has lost much of that wildness along with considerable precious top soil. Air and water quality are degraded. The future of life here is compromised. But a vision now exists which provides reason for optimism.

Iowa consists of approximately 36 million acres. Much of that was previously developed for agricultural use, transportation routes, and urban centers. We have tragically over domesticated this place and now step back to make room for the unpredictable and the unfamiliar by restoring natural systems. We become more thoughtful regarding how our being here impacts life…present and future…human and beyond human. The state’s rural areas are redefined according to their highest and best use with agriculture’s most productive land (approximately 25%) managed in such a way that annual crops are harvested even as top soil is replenished. Iowa’s steepest hillsides and most frequently flooding river bottoms (another 25%) are permanently in woodland, wetland, and grassland having no agricultural presence. The remaining 50% is in perennials which may be grazed, harvested, or burned. Across the state, people and product mobility are less important as we make peace with who we are and where we are. Unlike yesterday, citizens balance today with tomorrow by focusing on needs rather than wants. The trend toward centralization and complexity is reversed. Liberation abounds.

This is one state’s role in the BIG RIVER CONNECTIVITY Vision for a wilder, more beautiful, more biologically diverse, and a more enduring Mississippi River Watershed. Iowa is Ground Zero!