A 2000 South Winneshiek graduate is the new coordinator for the Upper Iowa River Watershed Management Authority (UIRWMA).
Matthew Frana of Conover is a 2000 graduate of South Winneshiek High School and has a master’s in ecosystem management from the University of Northern Iowa.
He recently was hired to coordinate the UIRWMA, and his office is housed at the Winneshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District office on Oil Well Rd. east of Decorah.
He comes to the position following six years of experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service: three in Osage, and one-and-a-half in Muscatine and one-and-a-half in Boone.
In his new role, Frana will facilitate watershed-planning activities, manage the implementation of flood resiliency conservation projects and share information with the public across the watershed to ensure the program’s effectiveness.
He will help identify suitable locations to install conservation practices designed to retain water and reduce flooding, as well as assist landowners as they work to reduce soil and nutrient loss while enhancing wildlife habitat.

In response to extreme statewide flooding in 2008, the state Legislature established the Iowa Flood Center at the University of Iowa to serve as a technical resource for Iowans.
In 2010, the Legislature created watershed management authorities, a mechanism for cities, counties, soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs) and other interested parties to cooperatively engage in watershed planning and management.
Entities collaborate to request federal Housing and Urban Development funds and to oversee usage of those funds to manage water flow and quality within the watershed.
Locally, John Beard of Decorah helped spearhead the organization of the UIRWMA, which consists of nine partner entities: the Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors, The Winneshiek Soil and Water Conservation District, the city of Decorah, the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors, the Allamakee Soil and Water Conservation District, the Howard County Board of Supervisors, the Howard County Soil and Conservation District, the city of Lime Springs and the Upper Iowa River Drainage District, located out of New Albin.
“The program represents a vision for Iowa’s future that voluntarily engages stakeholders throughout the watershed to achieve common goals, while moving toward a more resilient state. It is a replicable model for other communities where the landscape has lost its natural resilience to flooding. The program is not only about Iowans helping Iowans, but also about demonstrating Iowans’ commitment to agricultural stewardship, to the environment, to their neighbors and to the future,” said Richard Lewis, senior research editor for the University of Iowa, at a previous meeting.

Upcoming meeting
Frana said the UIRWMA Board is still in the process of selecting which of the 32 watersheds in the region will be targeted.
“The funding will be used to focus in on about four watersheds. That way we’re concentrating these practices,” said Frana.
Frana said implementation of projects will likely not occur until next year.
The public is invited to an informational meeting Thursday, July 20, at 4 p.m. in the basement of the NRCA office at 2296 Oil Well Rd., Decorah.
The meeting will provide information to landowners about the project, conservation practices being promoted and potential cost-share opportunities, as well gauge landowner interest to help determine where priority watersheds will be located.
“I’m looking forward to meeting everyone involved and seeing how we can all come together to accomplish the goals laid out by the IWA,” said Frana.