Over the years, Iowa farmers diverted creeks to create more farmland.
One landowner did the opposite—he returned a creek to its natural path, complete with brook trout. Michael Osterholm owns the land in Allamakee County. He learned about the original stream the former owner’s grandson.
The grandson remembered fishing on a creek on the land.
That got Osterholm curious. He mapped out locations on the corn field where the land got soggy. He got his hands on USDA aerial photos before the diversion in 1949.
Then he did something most folks don’t do on their own. He used his own money (several hundred thousand dollars) to restore the creek to its original path.
The effort took years, cleaning up the field, planting natural grasses, leveling the banks and placing rock where the stream joined up with Duck Creek.
Today, the brook trout are reproducing in Osterholm’s creek. He even allows some anglers to fish the creek, on a catch-and-release basis. The largest so far measured 17 inches long.
The name of the restored creek?
Brook Creek, of course.