This Earthcache will take you to a real gem in Northeast Iowa – Siewers Spring and the Decorah Fish Hatchery. The above coordinates take you to the parking area near the Hatchery. Siewers Spring is located at these coordinates N 43° 16.341 W 091° 46.829, just a short walk from the parking area.
Siewers (pronounced seevers) Spring, located near the town of Decorah, is Iowa’s second largest spring. Located in scenic Northeast Iowa, this area is a part of what is known as the Driftless Area, escaping the glaciers during the last glacial period. It is an area that lacks the glacial drift or materials left behind by retreating glaciers. Karst topography is evident in the area in the forms of caves, sinkholes, cracks and fissures in the bedrock, underground streams, steep hillsides, and cold water springs. These coldwater springs are cooled down during their underground journey. At Siewers Spring, water surges out of a limestone outcropping at 3000-5000 gallons of water per minute, forming the Trout Run trout stream, which is stocked regularly and enjoyed by anglers.
In the early days, Siewers Spring was used to power mills. Later, it became the water source used for the Siewers Spring Bass Hatchery. Because of the fractures in the surrounding bedrock, the water is muddy after heavy rains. That silt, combined with high nitrogen gas levels, made it an unreliable source of water for the bass hatchery. Improvements were made to the facility in the 1980’s and the hatchery is now being used to rear rainbow and brown trout to stock this area’s pristine streams. 1000-3000 gallons of water per minute from the springs is diverted through a siltation basin, aerated, and excess levels of nitrogen are reduced before it is used in the hatchery. With the water quality measures in place, Siewers Spring continues to provide the only water source for the Decorah Fish Hatchery. Visitors to the hatchery are able to see and feed various sizes of rainbow and brown trout.
A pair of Bald Eagles nest in a tree in the backyard of a home just north of the Decorah Fish Hatchery. The birds have been frequent visitors at the hatchery and its nearby stream, feasting on trout and small animals. PBS filmed a captivating Nature documentary on these eagles and you can see this fine video at Nature: American Eagle To film the eagles, a webcam was mounted right above the nest. The webcam, allows us to literally have a bird’s eye view of the lives of the eagles. The webcam has changed hands over the years and is currently run by a private company, which hosts the site in exchange for running an advertisement prior to the live feed. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, "During last year’s (2010) nesting season, the site recorded more than 325,000 unique visitors from 125 countries, and nearly 3.9 million site visits as viewers logged in repeatedly to check the progress of the three chicks hatched there in early April." You may watch the eagles at this website: Decorah Eagle Cam
To receive credit for this EarthCache, you will need to do the following:
- Measure the temperature of the water coming from the spring.
- Estimate the width of the opening of the spring.
- Email the above information to me.
- When logging this find, upload a picture of yourself or your group with your GPS clearly visible and the spring or falls in the background. If you are unable to take a picture of yourself, you may take a picture of your hand holding your GPS in front of the spring instead.
Logs that do not meet the above criteria will be deleted.
Special thanks to Brian Malaise, Fisheries Biologist, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Decorah Fish Hatchery, for granting permission to establish this EarthCache at Siewers Spring.
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