The East Nishnabotna River Watershed (ENRW) encompasses 696,400 acres and touches 10 counties in Southwest Iowa. The ENRW is part of the Nishnabotna Basin, which drains to the Missouri River, a crucial water body that provides feeding, breeding, and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds and fish. The ENRW is located in the Southern Iowa Drift Plain Region, with broad rolling uplands and deep valleys adjoining woodland areas that provide abundant habitat for wildlife and recreation.
In the early 1900s, farmers began to transform the landscape from prairie to farmland. Channel straightening during this time altered the naturally meandering streams. About 75% of the lower 100 miles of the East Nishnabotna River were straightened. The fertile loess soils are intensively farmed and susceptible to erosion and streambank degradation. The predominant land use is for row crops, with about 76% of the watershed in a corn-soybean rotation.