Boone River

Iowa's Boone River is an important part of the Upper Mississippi River basin.

The Boone River is considered an area of significance because of its aquatic biodiversity. It was identified in the Upper Mississippi River Basin Plan as an area with significant plant and animal life.

Why you should visit:

For its size, the Boone River is a relatively intact watershed. The river itself is boulder strewn and a favorite canoeing stream. Canoe rentals, available through Webster City outfitters, make it easy to view the picturesque deep valley that contains the river.


Webster City is the best area to visit this stream, but from Webster it runs through five counties.


The Boone River originates in Hancock County, Iowa and flows nearly 100 miles south before joining the Des Moines River just north of Stratford.


The river can be hazardous in spring during high water, so be cautious when planning boating trips. However, the river is usually very gentle and easy to canoe.

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site:

Boone River is significant because it is a biologically important tributary to the Des Moines River. Further, working in this region enables the Conservancy to find solutions for much larger problems, such as hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico. Hypoxia occurs when run-off from farm fields causes large vegetation blooms that remove all oxygen in the water and kill plant and animal life. This is particularly a problem at the mouth of the Mississippi River. By improving the quality of this small river, we will improve the entire river system.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

On the Boone River, a Des Moines River tributary, the Conservancy is working with partner organizations, such as the Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource, Conservation and Development Council, the Iowa Soybean Association and area landowners to establish science-based conservation goals for the watershed involving water chemistry, physical habitat improvements and hydrology, which deals with how water flows through landscapes. Participants recommend and test alternative farming practices. Partners determine financial incentives to support these practices. The goal is to conserve native freshwater biodiversity in ways that are scientifically and economically sound and of benefit to the agricultural community.

Download the Spring 2015 issue of the Boone River Watershed Review, which highlights recent successes along the Boone.

Download this poster (3MB PDF) of the Boone River Oxbow Assessment, Outreach, and Restoration Project.


Why Strip-Till and Cover Crops Matter

Learn how farmers are stewarding the soil.

Restoring Oxbow Lakes

Sediment removal benefits fish and landowners.

How Bioreactors Make a Difference

Removing nitrogen improves water quality.

What to See: Plants

While visiting the Boone River notice the black walnut, basswood and silver maple trees. Rare species in the area include creeping yellowcress and tall cottongrass.

What to See: Animals

Threatened species in this area include the cylinder and strange floater freshwater mussels, the blackside and fantail darter and the federally-endangered Topeka shiner.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines


Briggs Woods Park - one mile south of Highway 20 on Highway 17, on the southeast side of Webster City.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

comments powered by Disqus

Read our guidelines on posting comments


Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.