Right after the floods of 2008 (I was serving on the Cedar Falls City Council then), a large group of residents and public officials up and down the Cedar River watershed came together and committed to work hard to re-establish natural areas and processes that reduced flooding intensity and protected all of us. That group has been busy ever since and has gotten a lot done.
We now know that if, over the last many decades, we had not impaired the floodplains of the Cedar River, if we had given more room to the river, if we had restored more water holding capacity to the upstream soils, the peak flood elevation in downtown Cedar Rapids in 2008 would have been much lower, causing far less damage.
I was astonished to learn that plans are underway to destroy the 27-acre prairie that was established along the river just south of downtown Cedar Rapids. That prairie is a giant sponge and benefits people locally and Iowans downstream. My friend Wendell Berry says that the Golden Rule applied to our behavior in a watershed would be “Do unto people downstream as you would have people upstream do unto you.”
We need to restore as many natural areas all along the Cedar River watershed as the number of sand bags used in 2008. Destroying a 27-acre prairie is not wise. I strongly urge the residents of Cedar Rapids to ask their City Council to consider changing their plans.