Iowa BMP Mapping Project

The goal of the Iowa BMP (Best Management Practices) Mapping Project is to provide a complete baseline set of BMPs dating from the 2007-2010 timeframe for use in watershed modeling, historic occurrence, and future practice tracking.  The BMPs being mapped are: Terraces, Water and Sediment Control Basins (WASCOB), Grassed Waterways, Pond Dams, Contour Strip Cropping and Contour Buffer Strips.  We can't guarantee that mapped practices meet NRCS standards or that they are actually the indicated practice since no ground truthing is being performed. Data being utilized to digitize the BMPs include LiDAR derived products such as DEM, Hillshade and Slope grids; CIR aerial photography from the 2007-2010 timeframe, NAIP aerial photography and historic aerial photography.  BMPs are being collected by 12-digit HUC and finished products can be downloaded from this site.

This project has been funded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa Nutrient Research Center at ISU, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment and Iowa Nutrient Research and Education Council.

To supplement this project, the ISU GISF has created a tool to download the BMPs by watershed for the state of Iowa. Click here to use the tool. In order to download, you will be asked for some identifying information.

Click here to obtain previous versions of these maps.

A companion project from the 2010 baseline inventory data tracks whether or not a particular conservation practice was evident in imagery in the 1980s. The goal of this project is to assess a representative sample of HUC12 watersheds across the state in order to determine the trends in overall changes in practice levels from the 1980’s to 2010. Practices that are identified as partially existing are split at the relevant location and each piece is identified with the necessary status. No new practices are digitized from the 1980s imagery; only practices existing in the baseline inventory are evaluated. The evaluation procedure is being done on 25% of the entire state’s HUC 12 collection; random sampling is done by HUC 8 to choose which HUCs are processed. After a HUC 12 has QA/QC performed it is then evaluated for 1980s presence or absence and the Historic Occurrence map shown below is updated.


Iowa BMP Mapping Project Handbook and Tutorials

In Fall 2017, the GIS Facility received a mini-grant from AmericaView, a national remote sensing consortium, to develop a handbook and 3 tutorials to document the efforts of the Iowa BMP Mapping Project. The handbook provides an overview of the Iowa BMP (inventory) project and three companion projects. The handbook provides background on the project, information about the data structure and necessary input data, descriptions and images of the conservation practices, management considerations, and additional documents needed for project tracking for those interested in replicating the project. 


Visit our website for the handbook and tutorials: