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Iowa Water Trails Association 
July 2012  
In This Issue
Jun 9 Great Race on Iowa River
Jun 23 Dubuque WT Designation
Jul 13 Lizard Creek WT Designation
Jul 14 River Trash Bash Fort Dodge
Aug 14 Treetown Adventure Race
Aug 18 West Nishnabotna Breakfast--Environmental--Float
Thanks a Million!
Need Your Low Water Ideas
So, What's It To You?
What Is It?
Share Your Thoughts
Quick Links


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Tree & Creek StarkWelcome to the first issue of the monthly Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter.  Our purpose is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and encouragement among Iowans working to create, improve, enhance, or increase the utilization and benefits of our water trails. We will work diligently to gather information and publish relevant and interesting articles.  The real measure of our success, however, will be your willingness to share your questions & concerns, ideas & suggestions, and especially your successes & lessons learned. Great water trails begin as a trickle of water, ideas, and enthusiasm from many sources.  We look forward to hearing from you, and working with you. 

We encourage you to use the "forward this email" link to share this IWTA Newsletter with other friends of Iowa Water Trails, who can then use the "Join Our Mailing List" button to secure their own free subscription.  Your email addresses will not be shared.

What is it?  You better watch out for this one!  
Click on What Is It? to confirm your answer. Poison Ivy ID
June 9 Great Race a Winner-- 3rd Annual Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race
Grt Iowa River Race Logo 

The 2012 "Great Race" was just that, with 68 registrants, up from 62 last year, and 35 in the event's first year.  The 9.2 mile race was held on Saturday, June 9, 2012 along the Iowa River Water Trail from Sturgis Access in Iowa City to the Hills Access in Hills.  Lower than usual water levels tested the abilities of competitors to identify the channel and plan their course. 


Great Iowa River Race Rick Hill Lori Schrodemier
Competition paddler Rick Hill of Iowa City.

The race attracted local and nationally-known competitors, including some who have competed for the Olympics.  Calvin Hassel, for instance, is recognized as the fastest paddler in the U.S., and logged the best time of the day, completing the 9.2 mile run in 1:12:52 in the C-1 Canoe Class.  View race results and photos at http://www.ivrcd.org/canoe-race-results-and-pictures


The Great Race is organized by the Iowa Valley Resource, Conservation and Development (IVRCD) Council,a non-profit organization that provides unique services to a six county region of Iowa, Poweshiek, Tama, Benton, Linn and Johnson Counties.  Contact Lori Schrodemier at

Great Iowa River Race Pack Lori Schrodemier
Paddlers try to break out of a pack.

http://www.ivrcd.org/.  The race check-in and a pancake breakfast were hosted at the local Fin & Feather store in Iowa City. The quality of competitors, good volunteer involvement, and some solid media coverage will help ensure the ongoing success of this annual event. 


Planning is already underway for The Great Race 2013. 




(Photos courtesy of Lori Schrodemier) 

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June 23 Dubuque Water Trail Receives Designation
Dubuque WT Robertson
Boats & paddlers gather on the Dubuque waterfront.

The new Dubuque Water Trail was designated on Saturday, June 23, 2012, with numerous paddlers demonstrating their support in a flotilla of colorful canoes and kayaks. The trail is located in the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, and offers diverse views of open water, backwater sloughs, urban skylines, Ice Harbor, riverboats, and the high bluffs of the Mines of Spain area.


The 11 mile water trail includes 5 access points from AY McDonald Park to Massey Marina Park along the Iowa shore of the Mississippi River. Paddlers can include an optional 5 mile loop on Catfish Creek. The five access points allow paddlers to match trip length with the experience level of their group. Most access points offer safe drinking water, & some have shelters, camping, or toilets.


Dubuque WT A Robertson
Paddling downstream toward the Hwy 20 bridge.

The City of Dubuque website states, "The trail can be enjoyed by both the novice and experienced paddler. Whether paddling the shoreline of the main channel or enjoying backwater excursions, the trail is an exceptional sightseeing and recreational opportunity where history, nature, commerce and recreation come together." Download a brochure and map of the Dubuque Water Trail here: http://www.cityofdubuque.org/index.



The Dubuque Water Trail was developed through a partnership with the City of Dubuque, Friends of the Mines of Spain, Dubuque County Conservation Board, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.  The trail was funded by a Water Trails Development Grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


(Photos by Todd Robertson) 

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July 13 Lizard Creek to Receive Water Trail Designation
Lizard Creek Rapids Keith Garrett
Running rapids on Lizard Creek.

Lizard Creek Water Trail in Webster County will be designated Iowa's second water trail of 2012 during an 11:00 am ceremony on Friday, July 13, at the Fort Dodge City Access (Phinney Park), in Fort Dodge. The 13-mile Lizard Creek Water Trail will bring the number of Iowa designated water trail miles to 916.


The official designation ceremony, in conjunction with the Summer of Paddling 2012, will feature speakers from Webster County Conservation, the City of Fort Dodge and the Iowa DNR, followed by lunch at noon. Food will be provided by Amigo's in Fort Dodge. RSVP for lunch by calling 515-576-4258. 


Todd Robertson, rivers programs outreach coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, described Lizard Creek as "a rugged and scenic creek, with small rapids and tight bends. Sandstone and limestone cliffs line the route in sections, adding to the scenic beauty of this intimate stream."  Lizard Creek Water Trail is classified as a "challenge" route and paddlers will need good boat control skills to navigate safely.  


Lizard Creek RR Bridge Keith Garrett
Heading under a RR trestle on "The Liz."

"Establishing this water trail was driven in large part by a dedicated group of paddlers at the local level, and their experiences can serve to help others who are interested in establishing water trails," Robertson said. The Lizard Creek Water Trail was developed with the support of the Webster County Conservation Board, the City of Fort Dodge, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and a local paddler support group. For more info, call the Webster County Conservation Board at 515-576-4258.


(Photos by Keith Garrett)

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July 14 River Trash Bash, Des Moines River WT in Fort Dodge
Webster Co Cons Logo 

An invitation from Karen Hansen, Naturalist, Webster County Conservation:


Join the FUN as the public participates in a Des Moines River Water Trail Cleanup on Saturday, July 14.  Meet at 8:00 am at the Hydro-Electric Park boat ramp in Fort Dodge.  The group will enjoy time paddling on the river while cleaning up the local Des Moines River Water Trail.  Participants will get muddy and wet picking up trash from the river and hauling it out by canoe.


Help with a good cause, be a steward of the land, and call to reserve a canoe from Webster County Conservation free of charge.  Paddlers may bring their own canoe if they wish.  Lunch will be provided for the volunteers at the end of the day.  Paddlers should bring their own reusable water bottles and snacks.  Call Karen by Wed, July 11 at 515-576-4258 or email at khansen@webstercountyia.org.


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August 4 Treetown Adventure Race, Winnebago River WT in Forest City 
Forest City Logo 

Thanks to Jeff Hovinga for the heads-up on this event:


Not satisfied with a simple paddling race? Want to boost the challenge by combining it with a bike ride and run? The folks in Forest City on the Winnebago River Water Trail have the answer. The Saturday, August 4 Treetown Adventure Race course will start with a 7 mile canoe/kayak race from Ambroson Recreation Area south of Leland, Iowa to Pammel Park in Forest City on the Winnebago River. This will be followed by a 12 mile bike ride, and then a 5k run. The course will have one transition area from which participants will begin bicycling and running portions of the race. 


The race will have solo, team, and relay categories. There are plenty of activities planned for non-competitors, and organizers are actively seeking volunteers. Proceeds, after event expenses are paid, will benefit the upkeep and expansion of Forest City Trails.


Information re registration & waiver, Friday evening check-in, T-shirts, rules & regulations, safety requirements, times & locations, and other FAQs can be found at: www.visitforestcity.com/VisitorsAndMeetings/Events/tree_town_adventure_race.asp.  

Or, just type in www.visitforestcity.com and click on the adventure race link. 


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August 18 West Nishnabotna Water Trail Breakfast--Environmental--Float

Invitation from Emily Haase, Project Manager, Golden Hills RC&D:


West Nishnabotna Haase
The West Nishnabotna exerting its will to meander.

We will be hosting an interesting, informative, and fun blend of activities on Saturday, August 18 along the West Nishnabotna Water Trail. Participants will gather at the annual pancake feed in Botna Bend Park, Hancock, IA, which features the syrup local organizers made from sap collected during a silver maple tapping event in the park this spring (breakfast is optional and on your own). 


We will start at 10:00 am with a discussion on aquatic species, a tentative fish assemblage presentation by DNR biologists, and presentations on soil conservation efforts in the watershed, water quality testing and algae blooms. Then, at 11:00 am, we will hit the water. Attendees should bring plenty of sunscreen & drinking water, and pack a sack lunch to enjoy on a sandbar.


This event will be free to the public, but there are a limited number of canoes and kayaks, so it will be on a first come, first served basis. RSVP's are needed by August 10th to me in the Golden Hills office, 712-482-3029. Further details are being finalized and will be posted on the West Nishnabotna River Water Trail facebook account and on the blog site found at http://westnishwatertrail.weebly.com/.          

(Photo by Emily Haase)

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Great Funding News.  Thanks a Million!
Iowa Capitol Bldg 

When all was said and done, the Iowa Legislature and Governor Branstad approved $1 Million in funding for water trails and low head dam safety. Other significant funding approved for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) included $6 M for lake restoration and water quality projects, $3 M for recreational trails, $12 M for REAP, $2.6 M for soil and water conservation, $6.7 M for cost share conservation programs, $1 M for the conservation reserve program, $2.5 M for soil and water conservation cost share, $1.5 M for the closure of agricultural drainage wells for this year and next, and $2.95 M for water quality monitoring.


If you were part of efforts to lobby our elected officials in support of those funding levels, please consider sending a brief "Thank You" to those same officials. The funding is truly appreciated, and our waterways will need the same kind of support and funding in the next budget.


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Best Low-Water Ideas for Water Trail Activities?  Please Share Yours!
Dried Mud Wapsi Stark

Late June along the Wapsipinicon, northern Linn County.


It's already hot and dry in many areas of Iowa, and the normally low water level months are still to come. We'd like to gather and share some ideas that organizers can use to maintain interest and activity along their water trails when water levels may impede paddling.


Have you utilized stream-walking with kids?  Presentations about historical features not normally visible? Shore activities?  The effects of low and warmer water on aquatic life?  Whatever you may have done, or considered doing to inform and entertain your public, please email your suggestions to iowawta@gmail.com We'll share your ideas in the August issue of the IWTA Newsletter. 


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What Does "Water Trail" Mean To You?
IWTA Logo edited jpg 

There are a lot of Water Trail "definitions" floating around (sorry about that), many of which try to list the specific facilities or characteristics to objectively determine whether a stretch of water is a water trail.


We're hoping that some of you might be willing to share something reflecting the broader impact of water trails, maybe more from the heart than the mind, an expression of the meaning of water trails from your viewpoint.


This won't be an activity which float's everyone's boat, but whether you can express your thoughts best in a few carefully-chosen words, a finely-tuned sentence, a couple of paragraphs, or a poem, we'd like to receive and share your thoughts in future issues. Please contact us at iowawta@gmail.com.


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WhatIsItWhat Is It?
Poison Ivy Berries Stark
Poison Ivy vine with berries, Bremer County.
We have probably all heard the admonition, "Leaves of three, let it be." Whether it's due to increased reluctance to use chemicals, budget cutbacks, climate change, or something else, Poison Ivy seems to be thriving in many of our parks, and certainly at many of our water trail accesses.
Favoring a woodland edge habitat, Poison Ivy challenges us by growing in different forms, displaying an inconsistent leaf shape, and having some imitators in the neighborhood.  Poison Ivy has compound leaves, with one leaf made up of 3 leaflets.  The center leaflet is usually more symmetrical, but the two side leaflets often resemble mittens.


Poison Ivy grows as a woody vine or sub-shrub throughout the continental U.S. and is a member of the anacardiceae, or Cashew family. The chemical Urushiol causes the red, itchy rash which can erupt in blisters, and is present in all of the plant's parts, but particularly in the sap. The allergic reaction can vary widely by person, or even over the lifetime of one individual. Washing the skin quickly with dishwashing soap and water may be useful at home, but since Uroshiol may be absorbed by the skin within 3 minutes, this may not offer much help along the water trail. Some sources recommend washing without soap, an easy treatment along any water trail.  Paddlers should also consider that the oil can be transferred to skin via clothing or the fur of pets.


Poison Ivy can grow as ground cover (a knee-high patch of foliage), a skinny free-standing shrub (one stem and a few branches), or as a vine (eventually as thick as your arm, attached to a tree). Poison Ivy can be confused with Virginia Creeper, a similar-appearing vine, but the early 3-leaflet growth of Virginia Creeper fairly quickly expands to 5.


In the early part of the year, the leaves of the Box Elder, a member of the Maple family, has leaves which strongly resemble Poison Ivy (until the early 3 leaflets eventually become 5-7). This is most confusing when there is a vine in a Box Elder tree, or when the tree seeds are sprouting. Look at the leaves (group of 3 leaflets) to distinguish the difference.  Box Elder leaves branch directly opposite each other on the twig, while

Poison Ivy Patch Stark
Poison Ivy patch near Wapsipinocon River, Bremer County.

Poison Ivy leaves alternate.


A person's reaction to Poison Ivy may range from a mild rash to weeping sores which persist for two or more weeks, and may require a trip to a doctor. Calamine lotion can help reduce the itching.


Practicing awareness, identification, and avoidance is an excellent alternative.


(Photos by Gregg Stark)

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We Hope That You Have Enjoyed This First Issue of the IWTA Newsletter
Red Admiral Stark
Red Admiral resting on a sandy access,
Alcock Park, Frederika, IA.
And we encourage you to use the "Forward this email" link to share it with others interested in creating, sustaining, or simply enjoying our Iowa Water Trails. 

Your contribution of water trail events, information, questions, and ideas is key to making this monthly newsletter a valuable resource for us all.  Please drop me an email at iowawta@gmail.com.  

Watch for our August issue, which will include a report on Project AWARE, info about a just-scheduled Aug 18 Cedar River Rocks! event, DNR exhibits at the Iowa State Fair, and your ideas for working with low water levels.


Gregg Stark
Editor, IWTA Newsletter