Press Release
Iowa Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership Named Midwest Region Endangered Species Recovery Champions
Media Contacts

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service applaud the efforts of the Iowa Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership whose work has advanced conservation and recovery of imperiled species. The Iowa Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership has received the national Endangered Species Recovery Champion Award for their work to recover the Topeka shiner, a small fish listed as endangered in 1998. The strategic approach of this partnership to restore oxbow habitat for the Topeka shiner has improved the status of this species to the extent that the agency recommended upgrading its status to threatened in the most recent 5-year status review.

This partnership has been an innovative leader in the conservation of Topeka shiner. Together the team has completed more than 70 targeted oxbow restorations in Iowa since 2019, with more than 40 additional projects in various stages of completion. To achieve this amazing work the team engaged partners across sectors by working with farmers, private landowners, local, state, and federal government agencies, and partner organizations. Engagement and outreach efforts included in-person field days, virtual events, webinars and generating outreach materials, where the team shared lessons learned, reached thousands of people and fostered widespread awareness.

“The Iowa Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership is a model for everyone interested in community and organizational collaboration,” said Will Meeks, midwest regional director for the agency. “Not only has this team worked across organizations and communities, but they have joined together different parts of our own agency. By incorporating Ecological Services, Fisheries, and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, this partnership has demonstrated the effectiveness of the Strategic Habitat Conservation model through biological planning, conservation design and delivery, and outcome-based monitoring.”

These oxbow restoration projects have not only provided habitat for the Topeka shiner and other species but also improved water quality on over 3,500 acres by targeting priority watersheds identified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Iowa Department of Agriculture.

The Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership is made up of individuals external to and from within the agency. Those honored with the Endangered Species Recovery Champion award from outside the agency are Brandon Iddings of Iowa Soybean Association, Karen Wilke of The Nature Conservancy, and Grace Yi and Brad Woodson of Practical Farmers of Iowa. Honored with the award from within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are Darrick Weissenfluh of Iowa Private Lands Office, Kristen Lundh of the Illinois-Iowa Ecological Services Field Office, and Jenna Haag, Heidi Keuler and Louise Mauldin of the Midwest Fisheries Center.

Learn more about how oxbow restoration efforts are contributing to Topeka shiner recovery.

The Topeka Shiner Recovery Partnership joins other recovery champions across the country whose efforts are helping keep endangered and threatened plants and animals from extinction. Learn more about endangered species recovery champions.

Story Tags

Endangered and/or Threatened species
Freshwater fish
Habitat restoration