Winneshiek County

Located in the scenic Driftless Region of northeast Iowa, Winneshiek County draws visitors with its vibrant culture and extensive recreational opportunities. Through partnership with the IISC, Decorah and Winneshiek County will work towards their future goals while preserving their unique cultural and environmental character. The partnership is led by Barbara Schroeder, Director of Winneshiek County Conservation, and Dean Thompson, Winneshiek County Supervisor.

Partnership Profile Image: Bluffton Bluffs, Larry Reis

Winneshiek County logo


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Northeast Iowa Mineral Mining - Legal Framework for State and Local Jurisdictions

College of Law students in the Community Empowerment Law Project (CELP) conducted a study to help officials in Winneshiek County and Northeast Iowa understand the implications of anticipated mineral mining activities, as well as legal safeguards for environmental protection and transfer of wealth. 


Blufflands Protection

Students in the Geographical and Sustainability Sciences program develop a methodology for mapping blufflands using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology.


Development of a Nonprofit Group for Winneshiek County Conservation Board

Students created a marketing plan that presents research conducted on the blufflands than Winneshiek County aims to protect. This marketing plan details not only the research but also provides recommendations for developing and promoting a new friends group for protecting these lands.

Winneshiek County logo

Land Cover and Conservation


Consistent with the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (INRS), Winneshiek sought to reduce phosphorus and nitrogen pollution from nonpoint sources. To achieve this goal, the County was interested in gaining information about land use and conservation practices in the area.

Marketing Economic Development

Students in the Entrepreneurial Management Institute explored, researched, and produced recommendations on ways that the Economic Development group could effectively market their programs throughout the county, create and maintain communication and public relations with smaller communities, and increase usage of the group’s resources for recruiting new businesses and retaining existing businesses.


MetroNet Plan

Students in the School of Urban & Regional Planning conducted an economic impact analysis of extending the current fiber optic system and provided recommendations on how best to continue enhancing the service and a 28E partnership between six stakeholders.

Trails Economic Impact and Master Plan

Urban and Regional Planning students created the Trails economic impact plan that provides research on the benefits of the current trails system in Decorah, Iowa and provides recommendations on how to continue expanding it as well as a presentation displaying research and results, and a poster displaying research and results.


Winneshiek County Public Art

Students from the School of Art & Art history developed two public art pieces. The first project emblematizes the Decorah eagles in a sculpture that celebrates the natural assets of Winneshiek County. The second playfully acknowledges the mythical gnome-like “nisse” of Norwegian culture through several small ceramic doors and windows that will be displayed in local parks for the mischievous “nisse” to use.


Economic Impact Study of Frac Sand Mining Industry

Winneshiek County sought to understand the possible economic impacts that the frac sand mining industry could have if it became established in the county. For this project, graduate students in the School of Urban and Regional Planning performed a comprehensive economic impact study that evaluated the short and long-term gains and losses to the county's economy that could follow from the industry’s establishment. The students assumed a single-mine scenario to contextualize mining impacts in three areas: county accounts, private accounts, and social costs.

Frac Sand Mining Industry Legal Analysis

Students in the College of Law conducted statutory and case law research to contribute to the development of the potential regulations being considered by Winneshiek County. In response to the potential entry of the frac sand mining industry into the area, Winneshiek County sought research and recommendations on best practices for interacting with the industry. This project brought together the University of Iowa Citizen lawyer program with county attorneys to provide legal research and analysis on regulatory options available to the county.


Interactive Art on Trout Run Trail

MFA students in the School of Art and Art History created 10 small statues of nisse, gnome-like figures from Scandinavian folklore, for the 2015 Nordic Fest Celebration.

Following the success of the "Gnomes on the Trail" event during the 2013 Nordic Fest celebration, the Winneshiek County Conservation Board aimed to create new gnome statues along the trail for trail users to interact with.


Mapping and Prediciting Potential Frac Sand Mine Locations

Researchers from the GEEMaP program, College of Engineering, and Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences collaborated to predict and map where frac sand mines may be most likely to occur in Winneshiek County if the industry enters the area.


Marketing the Upper Iowa River for Sustainable Use

Students in Marketing Field Studies class in the Tippie College of Business researched these multiple uses and images of the river through focus groups and meetings with community stakeholders. Based on their findings, they developed recommendations to encourage all users to interact with and communicate about the river in a sustainable way.


Neste Park Recreational Facility and Nature Center

Civil and environmental engineering students determined the best location for a new nature center and created preliminary 3D designs for the structure near Decorah, IA.

Neste Valley Recreational Area sits just 2.5 miles from Decorah and was sited to be its next destination park. The Winneshiek County Conservation Board envisioned a variety of recreation offerings at the park, including picnicking, camping, hiking trails and conservation education.


Neste Park Recreational Trails

Civil and environmental engineering students evaluated and designed new trails in Neste Park that complemented the planned Recreation and Nature Center near Decorah, IA.

Neste Valley Recreational Area sits just 2.5 miles from Decorah and was sited to be its next destination park. The Winneshiek County Conservation Board envisions a variety of recreation offerings at the park, including picnicking, camping, hiking trails and conservation education.


Stormwater Management and Utility Planning

Graduate students in the School of Urban and Regional Planning researched models of financing, established a budget, and developed a list of priority stormwater management projects based on their projected budgets and impacts to water quality and quantity in the community for Decorah, Iowa's implementation of the storm water management policies.

Transportation Infrastructure Impacts of Frac Sand Mining Industry

To estimate the impacts and maintenance costs of the frac sand mining industry on roads and bridges, transportation engineering faculty and students reviewed literature on similar case studies, evaluated the properties of the materials of pavement materials, and used design software to analyze the impacts of increased truck traffic for Winneshiek County.