About The Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE).
Located in the heart of the Upper Mississippi River basin, the 24,000 square-mile unglaciated "Driftless" region of northeast Iowa, southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, and northwest Illinois is one of America's unique natural resource treasures. When glaciers retreat they leave behind deposits of dirt, gravel, and rock called drift. Since this area was not overrun by the most recent glaciation it is "drift-less". The landscape is characterized by craggy limestone and sandstone valleys, steep hillsides and abundant coldwater springs. More than 600 spring creeks interlace the 24,000 square-mile landscape and drain into the Mississippi River. The streams support populations of native brook trout and wild brown trout.

Throughout the Driftless Area, water quality 
has been degraded, stream temperatures 
have increased, stream habitat has been lost.”

In the early 1900s farming practices on the highly erosive soils resulted in devastating erosion. Hundreds of miles of once stable clean coldwater spring creeks were inundated with soils and fine sediments; in many areas 12-15 feet of soil accumulated in valley floors. Throughout the Driftless Area, water quality has been degraded, stream temperatures have increased, stream habitat has been lost, and the natural system's hydrologic cycle has been altered, with flooding becoming more frequent and severe.

A Driftless brookieChanges in land use and conservation efforts began as early as the 1930s and have contributed to the recovery of much of the landscape. However, the legacy of the decades of massive erosion still continues today, with most streams marked by steep eroding banks and incised channels. Furthermore, evolving land ownership trends and agricultural practices continue to present new challenges for the sensitive landscape threatening to reverse decades of improvement.

The TUDARE Project Region

The Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE) is founded on the work of TU volunteers. There are more than 15 chapters within and around the region that have worked with agency partners to restore sections of approximately 60 streams in recent years. The rivers and fishery respond quickly and extraordinarily well to straightforward techniques to control erosion, reconnect the floodplain, and improve in-stream habitat. These efforts have only scratched the surface of the need and potential for the region, though, and demonstrated the potential positive impact from a regional restoration effort.

Trout Unlimited is working to greatly increase the amount of watershed restoration activity in the Driftless and make it more effective by strategically linking restoration and protection efforts. The goals of TUDARE are to reduce soil erosion and pollution, benefit fish and their habitat, and expand recreational opportunities. TU also hopes to foster the development of a regional identity focused on the abundance of free-flowing coldwater streams, their contribution to region, and their reliance of good stewardship. TUDARE is helping TU advocate for strengthening national conservation programs such as the USDA Farm Bill Conservation programs and the National Fish Habitat Initiative.

A restored section of a Driftless streamTo accomplish this we are building alliances with other agencies and organizations in the region to marshal the necessary resources to develop and execute restoration projects. TU is also working with partners to prioritize all watersheds in the region based on the restoration potential and resource benefit, and develop a staged strategy for planning and implementation. We are working through our chapter network to build broad community support for immediate restoration work and long-term sustainable management, as well as to help the region capitalize on the economic opportunities that a restored landscape would offer.

For more information on TUDARE's overall operations, visit the TU National website or contact Jeff Hastings, TUDARE Project Manager, by phone (608) 606-4158 or email.

Driftless Area 

TU Chapters

Unlinked chapters do not have websites at this time. 

[ Iowa ]

(Iowa City/Dubuque)

[ Minnesota ]
(Minneapolis/St. Paul)

Win Cres 

(Red Wing)

Paul Bunyan 

Mid Minnesota 

[ Wisconsin ]


Ocooch Creeks 
(Richland Center)

Wisconsin Clearwaters 
(Eau Claire)
Feb 18, 2010, 12:13 PM
Feb 18, 2010, 12:12 PM