Iowa BMP Mapping Project

The Iowa BMP (Best Management Practices) Mapping Project provides an accurate inventory of BMPs which are essential to establish baseline conditions and document implementation resulting from the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy is a guiding document which uses science and technology to assess and reduce nutrients in Iowa waters and the Gulf of Mexico. This project fulfills the priority of the INRS document by providing a meaningful record of the in-field and off-field conservation practices for reducing erosion and nutrient loss. While individual organizations and programs often keep track of the practices that they install or advocate, the State of Iowa has lacked a comprehensive database of practices in each watershed. Our research is dedicated to completing this database for the entire state.

Click to view Watershed Status Map 04/11/2017


To identify structural management practices on the landscape, aerial imagery and LiDAR-derived products such as hillshade and slope are used. The images below show examples of how hillshade and slope are helpful for identifying terraces. The imagery provides a three dimensional view of the ground to supplement the natural color and infrared aerial photography (2-D).imagery-examples

Each semester since the spring of 2015, student interns have been digitizing six specific management practices in watersheds across the state. Over 725 watersheds have been completed. This project has continued because of strong collaboration among different funding partners, including AmericaView and state government agencies as well as private industry.  Completed data is available for download at:  If you have any questions or would like more information about this project, please contact Robin McNeely or Amy Logan.


A example of BMPs mapped in a watershed