Labor Day weekend is just around the corner… planning to spend any time out on one of Iowa’s rivers? The latest episode of the Conservation Chat podcast features an interview with Molly Hanson, Executive Director of the nonprofit river advocacy group Iowa Rivers Revival.
Listening to this podcast, you will quickly hear how Hanson’s energy and enthusiasm runneth over – she is extremely passionate about the environment, ecology, and education … oh, and turtles, too!
Iowa Rivers Revival is a statewide advocacy group, working to restore Iowa’s river ecosystems to a healthier state of functioning. That may be through streambank stabilization work, in-stream work, and/or dam modification/mitigation. River restoration also involves working with citizens across the state – talking with farmers and landowners about in-field conservation practices, and working with urban residents to build awareness of issues like stormwater.
“Rivers are conveyor belts of water and soil – that’s what they are, and they’re constantly moving both of those things.”
Hanson comes to IRR from the naturalist/county conservation world, and it’s clear that education also continues to be a passion of hers.
“The education, especially of kids, is such a key piece. They’ve gotta get out there and see it for themselves and have their ‘aha’ moment … then they’re way more likely to care and to take care of it. Science teachers, mentors, family, grandparents: we’ve got to get kids outside!”
So I mentioned turtles earlier … One of Hanson’s other projects has involved working with IRR and other conservation groups to push for new legislation to protect four different species of aquatic turtles (snappers, spiny softshell, smooth softshell, and painted turtles). Many of these turtles are being commercially harvested and sent overseas, with no protected seasons or catch limits in our state. Hanson helped to champion a bill that will put regulations in place to help protect these species – every species has an important role to play in terms of biodiversity and overall ecosystem health!