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Iowa Water Trails Association 
August, 2012  
In This Issue
Aug 4 Treetown Adventure Race
Aug 9-19 State Fair WT Volunteers
Aug 11 Turkey River Rocks!
Aug 18 West Nishnabotna Float
Aug 18 Cedar River Rocks!
Aug 18 Floatzilla Quad Cities
Sep 22-23 Lower Wapsi Cleanup
Sep 22-23 Iowa Outdoor Expo
Oct 6 Iowa River WT Cleanup
Low-Water Ideas for WTs
What Water Trail Means to Todd
Who are Okee Dokee Brothers?
National WT System Launched
Jun 23 Dubuque WT Videos
Jul 7-14 Project AWARE Report
Jul 13 Lizard Creek WT Dedication
Jul 14 River Trash Bash Report
Jul 17 Linn Co Landowner Mtg
Jul 23 CIP History Float Report
Jul 24 StreamKeepers on Parade
What Is It? Answer
What We Need From You

Quick Links

Report Kills & Spills Logo  
Plant In Post
Grow Where You're Planted
Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and your input. Special thanks to all those who contributed events, reports, & articles, and to those who contributed their ideas for low-water activities and water trail definitions. Our mission is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas and encouragement among Iowans working to create, enhance, or utilize our water trails, and your input has provided a great start. Please note the Quick Link to our Submission Guidelines. We look forward to hearing from you.


This second issue of the IWTA Newsletter has grown substantially, and is full of ideas for the benefit of all of our Water Trails--music, video, low-water events, teachable moments, local events, national recognition, organizing efforts in Linn County, dedication of the Lizard Creek WT, cleanups, exploring history, planning the future, and even some parade floats. We encourage you to use the "In This Issue article links" in the left column to select from among the 9 Coming Events, 4 General Interest stories, and 7 Reports.


August will be a full month, with 31 days, many water trail events, the Iowa State Fair, migratory waterfowl beginning to gather, fawns losing their spots, the Perseids Meteor Shower peaking Aug 12-13, and two opportunities for a Full Moon Paddle-Aug 1 & Aug 31. We hope that you and your Water Trail can make the most of it all.


In response to your suggestions, we have added a more prominent Forward This Newsletter button, Social Media Share buttons, and Quick Links to an IWTA Newsletter Archive and to our Submission Guidelines. Thanks primarily to your sharing of the first IWTA Newsletter, the IWTA has grown rapidly to well over 300 subscribers.


Just a suggestion, but you might consider linking in some of that Okee Dokee Brothers "Can You Canoe" music to enjoy while you read the articles.


We sincerely hope you enjoy this issue.

What Is It?
Kildeer Open Beak 
This robin-sized bird was spotted looking for lunch on a mowed grassy strip between a corn field and a small creek near the Linn-Benton County line. 
What is it? 

Take your best guess, then click on
Aug 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 starts 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 is followed by a 12 mile bike ride, and then a 5k run. The course has one transition area from which participants will begin bicycling and running portions of the race. 


The race has solo, team, and relay categories. There are plenty of activities 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:  Or just type in  and click on the adventure race link. 



Aug 9-19 IDNR River Programs at Iowa State Fair; WT Volunteers Needed
If you attend the Iowa State Fair ( ), be sure to visit the DNR's historic aquarium, pavilion and courtyard, located at the west end of the State Fair Grand Concourse.  The aquarium, built in 1921, is filled with Iowa fish species and the focal point of the open-air pavilion built
around it. Inside, visitors are able to try interactive displays and hands-on activities, touch live reptiles and amphibians and shoot a bow at the new archery range. Conservation officers and other DNR staff are on hand to answer questions related to natural resources and the outdoors.Iowa State Fair Corndog


Outside the west gates of the building is a pond full of waterfowl and turtles -- a magnet to fairgoers of all ages. The courtyard also features a full-size replica of a bald eagles nest, recently renovated prairie, a water fountain, picnic tables, benches and plenty of shade. 


David Williamson, sculptor from Ogden, turns "trash into treasure" each fair weekend in the courtyard. Williamson uses metal trash collected from the DNR annual river clean up event, Project AWARE, to create sculptures and most recently to create gates for the pavilion. 


And, Iowa State Fair volunteers are needed for the Water Trails boothShifts are only 4 hours and you get a free ticket into the fair and a Water Trails volunteer hat. But more than that, you get to connect to fair goers and promote paddling!!!! This is a great way to connect with other paddlers and those just now thinking about getting into the activity. The Conservation Corps will be staffing many shifts and we are so grateful for their help, but we need some water trail and paddling people as well.


The IDNR Building is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and volunteers will staff the booth with an IDNR River Programs team member. We will have a SUP and canoe on display as well as looping video of paddling events. The low-head dam model will be on display, which is very important for the kids to see! Help spread the word!!!


The following days and shifts are open. Feel free to do two shifts on two different days if you'd like:

Saturday, August 11th: Need all shifts filled (9-1, 1-5, 5-9)

Saturday, August 18th: Need all shifts filled (9-1, 1-5, 5-9)

Sunday, August 19th: Need all shifts filled (9-1, 1-5, 5-9)


Please contact Todd Robertson ASAP as this will be first come, first served. Call his DNR cell at 515.979.9538 or email


Aug 11 Turkey River Rocks!  Elkader to Motor Mill
Turkey Motor Mill 
Celebrate the Turkey River and its natural and historical attractions at Turkey River Rocks! on Saturday, August 11. This special day of river activities begins in Elkader and ends at the Motor Mill historic site.


Registration and shuttle begins at 9 a.m. at Elkader City Park. A program begins at 10 a.m., followed by a scenic, three-hour paddling trip to Motor Mill, where there will be interpretive tours, displays and a post-float party with a locally produced meal and entertainment by the band Kindred Minds. After dark, campers can enjoy the Perseid Meteor Showers.

 Turkey Rocks Aerial

A fee of $20 per person includes paddling insurance, evening meal, entertainment and camping at Motor Mill. Participants should bring their own equipment, along with water, a sack lunch and snacks. A limited number of canoes and kayaks are available to rent in advance from (563-245-3802).


Get more details or register at You can register the day of the event, but early sign-up is encouraged by July 27 for a guaranteed meal & free t-shirt. Contact IRR at or 515-724-4093 with questions.

  Turkey Rocks Angler

Hosts include Iowa Rivers Revival, along with Main Street Elkader, Clayton County Conservation Board, Motor Mill Foundation, Northeast Iowa RC&D, the Turkey River Recreational Corridor, Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries, the Fayette County Conservation Board and the Clayton County Conservation Awareness Network. Additional sponsors include the Black Hills Energy and Freedom Bank.


Photos by Larry Stone


Aug 18 West Nishnabotna WT Breakfast-Environmental-Float.  Updated!
Invitation from Emily Haase, Project Manager, Golden Hills RC&D:

 West Nishnabotna Haase

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 tapped from the silver maples in the park earlier this year (breakfast is optional and on your own). 


We will start at 10:00 am with a discussion on aquatic species and exploration of the "conservation trailer". The conservation trailer demonstrates a wide range of watershed processes from upland runoff to stream flow through two exhibits: 1) a rainfall simulator which shows how different types of soil cover (such as grass, crop residue, bare soil, etc.) affect the amount of soil erosion caused by rain drops, and 2) a stream table which shows stream form and processes (such as meandering, channel instability, etc.) on an accelerated time scale."


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, plus appropriate shoes in case water levels dictate more walking than floating.


This event will be free to the public, but there are a limited number of canoes and kayaks, so it will be 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 & on the blog site found at         


Photo by Emily Haase

Aug 18 Cedar River Rocks!  Waterloo
Cedar Rocks Boats 
Join Iowa Rivers Revival and Iowa Senator Bill Dotzler for the 2nd year of Cedar River Rocks!, a pure river celebration, on Saturday, August 18th from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Participants will enjoy a picnic and program at 11:00 am before we float from Senator Dotzler's property in Waterloo (2837 Cedar Terrace Drive, Waterloo) to Gilbertville Park (south of D38 (Washburn Rd.) bridge).  Cedar River Rocks! provides an opportunity for anyone to enjoy this scenic Iowa River and learn more about river issues.


A shuttle will be provided at 10:00 am at the take-out location (it does not accommodate boats). The program will include Senator Dotzler, Cedar River Watershed Coalition activities, information about dam access and the Watershed Management Education Initiative by Black Hawk County Conservation Board Director Vern Fish and an update from Iowa Rivers Revival.


If interested, a group of paddlers can put in above the dam (new portage accesses have been constructed) and paddle to Senator Dotzler's before lunch - please indicate interest in RSVP e-mail-details will be included in follow-up correspondence.

 Cedar Rocks Wide

The cost to participate is $10 and includes food, drink, and insurance. Anyone is welcome to participate; register by contacting Iowa Rivers Revival Executive Director Rosalyn Lehman at or 515-724-4093.


A limited number of canoes and kayaks are available at no additional cost. When those are reserved, additional boats will be available from Crawdaddy Outdoors at $30 per day for canoes and $20 per day for solo kayaks.


Photos from IRR

Aug 18 Floatzilla in Quad Cities
Logo Floatzilla 
River Action's Floatzilla 2012 - the Quad Cities 3rd Annual paddlesports celebration - will be held Saturday, August 18. The event will include guided floats, a tradeshow, live music, food, free shuttles, and will culminate with a Guinness World Record attempt as the largest flotilla of kayaks and canoes on the protected backwaters of Lake Potter. Floatzilla will feature live music and food at Lake Potter. The Burger Boat will be on the water to grill your lunch to order [featuring burgers, brats, chicken, pork-t, and drinks]. Ever eaten a burger in a kayak?

This is a kid-friendly, family event and new this year, KIDS FLOAT FREE with a paying adult. Every boat counts, so tell a friend, and see you on the river. Park rules are NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES at Sunset Park. Thanks for your cooperation.


In addition to the world record attempt [at 2 p.m. at Lake Potter], the festival will include guided floats [launches start at 8 a.m.] on the Quad Cities Water Trails and beginner-friendly paddling lessons and programs. **Note - IL DNR and IA DNR have given a waiver for all boats in FZ. You do not need a current license for your boat.**


The registration fee is $20 starting August 1. Registration includes one Floatzilla t-shirt per paddler, commemorative boat decal, registration wrist bands, freFloatzilla Shoree parking, and free shuttle to off-site parking for 'paddles' from Moline and east Moline. T-shirts and decals subject to availability for any registrations after August 8. CLICK HERE to register for Floatzilla 2012. For more information, contact River Action,the event coordinator, or call 563-322-2969. Help us fill Lake Potter with paddlers.


Photo from Floatzilla website

Sep 22-23 Lower Wapsipinicon River Cleanup, Clinton & Scott Counties
Tree & Tire Stark 
The 2012 edition of this annual effort will be held Sep 22 & 23, cleaning up 22 miles of the Wapsi River, mostly in Clinton County, from Walnut Grove Park in Toronto, to Allen's Grove Park in northwestern Scott County. Registration forms are now available.


On Saturday, volunteers will paddle 14 miles from Walnut Grove Park to Sherman Park, with an extra trash drop-off point at Syracuse Wildlife Area. Syracuse is 8 river miles from Walnut Grove, and shuttles will run from Syracuse to Sherman Park for anyone who wishes to end their day at that point. Saturday evening, the Clinton County Conservation Board naturalists will offer some interesting, fun, and free environmental education programs about the river and the land around it.


On Sunday, volunteers will paddle 8 miles from Sherman Park to Allen's Grove Park. There may be an extra trash drop-off point midway.


Participants can bring their own food, or pay for catered meals in advance with their registration. Organizers will offer all three meals on Saturday, and breakfast & lunch on Sunday. You may choose any or all of the meals. There are also convenience stores and restaurants in the surrounding towns that you can drive to in the evenings. A limited number of canoes, paddles, and orange "keyhole" PFDs will be provided free if you don't have or don't want to use your own.


T-shirts will be offered for sale, which you would pay for in advance with your registration and pick up the Saturday morning of the event. More details to follow as they become available. Please note the new domain name: and new coordinator email address:


Photo by Gregg Stark

Sep 22-23 Iowa Outdoor EXPO for Kids & Families, Des Moines
Logo Iowa Outdoor Expo 
The Des Moines Izaak Walton League will host the fourth annual Outdoor EXPO for Children and Families on September 22-23. The EXPO is free, and will be held at Des Moines Izaak Walton League and Water Works Park, 4343 George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines. Hours are Saturday: 9am - 5pm & Sunday: 10am - 4pm.


Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing week by bringing the entire family for a fun day discovering new and exciting ways to enjoy Iowa's outdoors. It's an outdoor experience where visitors fish, shoot, canoe, see and touch wildlife and learn about recreation in the great outdoors.


Once again Mike Delaney will organize a water sport village. Last year, Mike and his volunteers put 700 people on water boards and in kayaks and canoes with the help of Iowa Falls Outfitters, Canoe Sport Outfitters, Central Iowa Paddlers, Skunk River Paddlers, Iowa DNR, Polk County Conservation and the Raccoon River Watershed Association. The EXPO drew about 3,000 attendees last year, and this year's event will be much larger. If you would like to volunteer to help, please contact Mike Delaney at or 515-277-3279.


You can find an EXPO event poster, video, map, and additional links for volunteers, exhibitors, & sponsors at:


Oct 6 Iowa River WT Cleanup, Iowa City
Iowa R Cleanup Map 
Mark your calendar for a Saturday, October 6 cleanup along 9.5 miles of the Iowa River WT from Sturgis Ferry Park to Hills Access. There will be free primitive camping at the Izaak Walton League access for the weekend.
More details coming soon. More info at
Best Low-Water Ideas for WT Activities from Our Subscribers; Making Lemonade
Dried Mud Wapsi Stark 
Here are some of your Ideas for Low-Water Activities on/in/around Water Trails; we hope that you will submit even more ideas to share next month.


Outfitters on the Wapsi and elsewhere are suspending operations. IDNR officials reported 37,000 fish killed, with an estimated $10.1 million value, along a 42-mile stretch of the Des Moines River in SE Iowa. With existing drought declarations spreading, open-burn bans in place, August and September before us, spotty showers a cause of celebration, and a long-range forecast for more of the same, it looks like "Low Water Activities" could be a valid topic for the balance of the 2012 paddling season.


We're impressed by the responses which came with a positive attitude-kind of a "When the weather man gives you lemons, make lemonade" approach. When small streams become too shallow for floating, they become excellent routes for "stream-walking," where kids of all ages can search for minnows, crawfish, and other critters and treasures. Anglers get a chance to better identify bottom and shoreline structure favored by their quarry. Some may get to see the rock which attacked their outdoor motor prop earlier this spring.


Larger rivers like the Cedar, often overlooked by paddlers as too large to be interesting, still have easy-to-paddle channels and growing expanses of sand and gravel bars to explore. The Bends and Beaches WT on the lower Wapsi in Clinton County has about the normal number of bends, but many more acres of beaches encroaching on its channel. Chuck Jacobsen, Interpretive Naturalist with

Clinton County

Cedar River Sandbar Palo
Growing sandbars on the Cedar River near Palo

Conservation, reports "I consider paddling the Wapsi River at its current level to be challenging, and recommend that paddlers look towards a backwater of the Mississippi instead. We made a trip up to Harpers Ferry last week and had a great time."


Lower water levels expose more trash during cleanup events and make it easier for participants to remove larger items, offset somewhat by making it more difficult to float fully-loaded canoes and john boats. The lower water levels also sometimes expose glimpses of history, including remnants of rock or crib dams for early mills, or even the fish weirs of Native Americans. Your local county historical society may be able to help you identify and explain these sites for a local paddling or hiking event.


You might expect WTs with controlled water levels to automatically be a good destination, but contacting the local conservation department is still advised. Water levels at Odessa WT are controlled, but more for the benefit of migrating waterfowl than paddlers. Water levels there were lowered in July to expose mudflats that will rapidly vegetate with seed-producing moist-soil plants, and the areas will be re-flooded this fall to provide food and cover for migratory birds, primarily waterfowl.  


Recent DNR reports indicated that the weather has taken a toll on Iowa's water conditions. By mid-July, streamflow conditions for a majority of the state were below 25% of normal; detailed reporting at Multiple fish kills occurred in July due to lower water flows and higher water temperatures. The DNR reported that "The combination of low water and high temperatures stresses fish, especially those susceptible to warmer water, like sturgeon, northern pike, yellow perch and walleye. Channel catfish and bullheads, two species that are more tolerant of warmer water, are also showing signs of stress." By late-July, the DNR had to suspend trout-stocking on five streams due to water temperatures. Brian Malaise, hatchery manager at the Decorah trout hatchery explained, "The trout stocked earlier in the year in those streams have become acclimated to the warmer water and can find springs with cooler temperatures, but trout being taken from 50 degree water at the hatchery cannot be stocked in 70 to 80 degree water without some mortality."


While the impacts of low stream levels, low flow rates, and high temperatures are generally negative, naturalists at the county and state level point out that this is very much a "teachable moment" to help the public understand the short and long-term effects on life in or along the streams, and the role of humans in mitigating those effects. Water trails can serve as laboratories to explain how lower flows and higher temperatures reduce a stream's ability to provide oxygen and support life.


Another option is combining short floats with land-based activities. A good example is the Des Moines WT History Float sponsored by Central Iowa Paddlers. The float was only a mile, but included historical perspective on development along the river and a tour of an 1898-built mansion. A full report on the Jul 23 event can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.

For anyone already planning to paddle the new Dubuque Mines of Spain WT, or for those who simply cannot deal with the heat, but want to learn more about rivers, how about visiting the "Amazon Voyage: Vicious FLogo Amazon Voyageishes and Other Riches" exhibit at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium through October 31? It has been billed as "a visit to the Amazon jungle, but with air conditioning and emergency exits." The exhibit is free with museum admission.


"The Brazilian Amazon is one of the world's greatest rivers; full of exotic animals, plants, and cultures," said Jerry Enzler, the Museum's executive director. "This exhibition brings the Amazon to life with beautiful art, hands-on experiences, great science, and fascinating stories," said John Sutter, the Museum's marketing director. The adventure begins with this warning from Captain Mo, who operates a riverboat on the Amazon: "There are thousands of river creatures we enjoy, but seven that enjoy us." Museum visitors board his boat, the Victoria Amazonica, and prepare to meet the seven perils: electric eel, stingray, piranha, anaconda, caiman (cousin of the alligator), piraíba (giant catfish), and candirú (parasitic catfish). Look deeper to learn about the biodiversity of the Amazon region, the scientific field research and resource management being practiced there, and the ways people celebrate the Amazon River.


Photos by Gregg Stark

What "Water Trail"  Means to Todd Robertson
IWTA Logo edited jpg 
In July, we began askingd subscribers to share their personal definitions of what a water trail means to them. We're looking for something beyond the "stretch of water to paddle" most frequently cited--maybe a description, an event, or a story which conveys what a WT means to you, or what you hope it could mean to many people. We're hoping to share one such example each month, so please contact us at to voice your thoughts.


While preparing the Iowa Water Trail Master Plan, the Iowa DNR River Program developed a working WT vision through a series of Iowa Water Trail Advisory Committee meetings, public meetings around the state, and lots of ongoing input and revision. One iteration of that vision, included in the Master Plan, states that:



...provide recreational opportunities to experience the variety found on Iowa's streams, wetlands, and lakes developed and managed in ways that protect and enhance Iowa's aquatic and riparian resources

... demonstrate broad stakeholder engagement in planning, development and management

...provide users with information to plan a trip that meets their expectations and contributes to strong local economies

... provide an entry point to education and awareness about what challenges face Iowa's waterways


Todd Robertson, dedicated paddler, ardent supporter of Iowa waterways, and Outreach Coordinator for the IDNR River Program, penned this excellent definition quite some time ago:

.....Water trails can help re-connect Iowans to their history, heritage, geology and wildlife. A water trail promotes an ethic of caring that makes us more aware of our surroundings and environment and can be thought of as educational venues. Whether they are used for relaxation, health and fitness, education or just for spending time with family, water trails provide in-state destinations for recreational river users that can even help boost local economies.


Who Are the Okee Dokee Brothers?  Pickin' Paddlers or Paddlin' Pickers?
Okee Dokee CD 
The Okee Dokee Brothers. If you don't know them, maybe your kids or grandkids do. Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, childhood friends from Denver who now reside in Minneapolis, perform Bluegrass/Americana Folk music, enthusiastically sharing their passion for the outdoors. It's family music with a goal to inspire children and their parents to get outside and experience nature. They believe this can motivate kids to gain a greater respect for the natural world, their communities and themselves. By appealing to the musical needs of the entire family and recognizing that kids deserve quality music, The Okee Dokee Brothers are working full-time to advance the family music genre.


On June 1, 2011, The Okee Dokee Brothers began a month-long canoe trip that would lead them from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, MN to the arch in St. Louis, MO. The audio CD "Can You Canoe" and its accompanying video DVD (included free) document their 30 days of camping, canoeing, filming and songwriting. The main target may be kids, but any paddler will thoroughly enjoy the adventure, the scenery, the humor, the music and the message.

Okee Dokee Roller Coaster
Justin (l) leads the audience on a roller coaster ride.


During a recent performance at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, "the brothers" displayed a remarkable ability to entertain and captivate their young audience members, holding their attention for 45 minutes without a single sign of boredom. The audience was up high and down low on cue, role-playing a roller-coaster ride, buzzing with Rosita the Mosquito, and anxious to audition for an impromptu percussion section.


The Okee Dokee Brothers will be participating in a Wilderness Inquiry float on the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to East River Flats on Sunday, Aug 5. Info on schedule, registration, shuttle, parking, etc. at:

Okee Dokee Percussion
Joe (r) auditions a new percussion section.


Caution: The catchy lyrics & melody of "Can You Canoe" can easily become lodged in your brain. ". . . I want to float down the river with you . . ."


Check out The Okee Dokee Brothers home page, "Can You Canoe" song and video trailer, tabs for other music, videos, performance schedule, & contact/booking info at:


Photos by Gregg Stark

Return to Top 

National Water Trails System Launched.  Which Iowa WT Will Be First To Be Dedicated?
Article by Kim Shafer, National Park Service []


In February 2012, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unveiled the National Water Trails System, a new network that will increase access to water-based outdoor recreation, encourage community stewardship of local waterways, and promote tourism that fuels local economies across America. Secretary Salazar signed a Secretarial Order that establishes national water trails as a class of national recreatiLogo NWTSonal trails under the National Trails System Act of 1968. The order sets the framework for Secretarial designation of water trails that will help facilitate outdoor recreation on waterways in and around urban areas, and provide national recognition and resources to existing, local water trails.


The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized the creation of a National Trails System composed of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. Although National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may only be designated by an Act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture.


The Chattahoochee River National Water Trail in Georgia was the first to be designated as a National Water Trail under the new system. In recent months, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area Water Trail in Minnesota, the Alabama Scenic River Trail, the Okefenokee Wilderness Canoe Trail in Georgia, the Mississippi River Water Trail near St. Louis, Missouri, and the Kansas River Water Trail have been added to the National Water Trails System.


As a subset of the national recreation trail designation, trails in the National Water Trails System must meet the four criteria for National Recreation Trail designation as follows:

  • The trail (and its access points) must be open to public use and be designed, constructed, and maintained according to best management practices, in keeping with the anticipated use. Water trail access points that demonstrate state-of-the-art design and management are especially encouraged to apply for national water trail designation.
  • The trail is in compliance with applicable land use plans and environmental laws.
  • The trail will be open for public use for at least 10 consecutive years after designation.
  • The trail designation must be supported by the landowner(s), (public or private), on which access points exist.


In addition to the national recreation trails criteria, a designated water trail must incorporate the following best management practices:

Recreation Opportunities: The water trail route has established public access points that accommodate a diversity of trip lengths and provide access to a variety of opportunities for recreation and education.

Education: The water trail users are provided with opportunities to learn about the value of water resources, cultural heritage, boating skills, and outdoor ethics.

Conservation: The water trail provides opportunities for communities to develop and implement strategies that enhance and restore the health of local waterways and surrounding lands.

Community Support: Local communities provide support and advocacy for maintenance and stewardship of the water trail.

Public Information: The public is provided with accessible and understandable water trail information, including details for identifying access and trail routes; cultural, historic, and natural features; hazards; and water quality. The water trail is promoted to the community and broad national audience.

Trail Maintenance: There is a demonstrated ability to support routine and long-term maintenance investments on the water trail. Facilities are designed, constructed, and maintained by incorporating sustainability principles.

Planning: Maintain a water trail plan that describes a vision, desired future conditions, and strategies to strengthen best management practices.


To learn more about the National Water Trails System and the application process, please visit: resources for water trail development can be found at:


logo and photos from Kim
June 23 Dubuque Mines of Spain WT VIDEOS
Dubuque WT A Robertson 

We're sorry that we didn't have these videos to share with last month's report on the Dubuque WT dedication, but thanks to John Wenck, here they are, dragon boat drumbeat and all:


Photo by Todd Robertson 

Jul 7-14 Project AWARE 2012 Report
Project AWARE Removes Tons of Trash from the Iowa River

"Somewhere between breakfast, getting out on the river-getting extremely dirty-and another exhausting day, the magic happens," explains AWARE coordinator Brian Soenen. Looking back at what you've done; feeling the pain from all the work...people internalize that. There is something about it that gets in your blood and keeps you coming back for more."
Logo Project AWARE
"It's a lot of fun. We're getting a lot done. Somebody has to do it," states Darrell Brotherson of Cedar Bluff; one of the volunteers who helped pull garbage out of the Iowa River all of last week in north and central Iowa. "Not a better group in the world to do it than us. Take a look at these people."

Nothing surprises veterans of AWARE, which marked its 10th year targeting the Iowa River from about Clarion to Marshalltown. A very low-flowing Iowa River, by the way. On one hand, more trash is visible. On the other, you can't haul out as much. "You're riding lower in the water. You're dragging bottom before long. The volunteers work incredibly hard to get it in; still filling boats with garbage," applauded Soenen. It also meant shoProject AWARE Volunteersrter routes on some days; since the floats were slower and there was more walking than in previous years.


Metal posts and scrap metal make up a lot of the volume. Thousands of beverage containers are sorted along the way. And tires. LOTS of tires.  "This year was dubbed 'the Year of the Tire,' smiled Soenen. "We pulled out 1,350 of them; nearly 60 tons of trash altogether. That's a record."


Project AWARE photo 

Jul 13 Lizard Creek WT Designation Report
Excerpted from an article by Emilie Nelson in The Messenger, Fort Dodge. Read full article at

 Lizard Crk Ded Sign

After nearly four years in the making, the Lizard Creek Water Trail was officially dedicated to the community as a state-designated water trail Friday. The dedication of the 13-mile trail through Webster County brought the total number of water trail miles to 916 in Iowa, Todd Robertson, Outreach Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources River Program, said during the program attended by about 40 people.


Lizard Creek has been a popular place for local paddlers to take to the water for many years, and the designation of the waterway as an official trail and the addition of four public access areas along the route will make the creek a destination for paddlers from around Iowa and the surrounding states, Robertson said.


The project has been a collaborative effort between the DNR, Fort DoLizard Crk Ded Tan Shirtdge Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Webster County Conservation and local paddlers. "This is something that one agency cannot accomplish by themselves," said Ryan Maehel, Fort Dodge Parks & Recreation administrator.


Maehel said the project would not have been possible without the donation of land by landowners Ken and Jane Rasch, Joseph and Sue Cunningham, and Tim and Michelle Lentsch, all of whom now have an access point on their property. "Without land donations this may not have happened," said Pat Sheehan, a park ranger for Webster County Conservation.


Clark Fletcher, a Webster County supervisor and local paddler, said the access at the Des Moines River near Phinney Park, which includes a trail, parking lot and picnic shelter, will be an attraction for many paddlers. "The majority of people from out of town will come through this area and will see this access and parking lot," said Fletcher. "We have been working on this for four years and if it weren't for those who saw the potential we wouldn't have this today."Lizard Crk Ded Dark Shirt


Ryan Maehl, Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation administrator, said the designation of the water trail is just one of many new improvements and attractions to be brought to Fort Dodge in recent years.


"In the past 10 years we have done so much to improve the quality of life," Maehl said. "This is one way that we are getting out and getting back into nature."


Photos by IDNR River Program

Jul 14 River Trash Bash Report, Des Moines River WT in Fort Dodge
Webster Co Cons Logo 
Report from Karen Hansen County Conservation Naturalist,


Muddy & Messy, They Make It Cleaner--Although the recent River Trash Bash in Webster County was muddy and messy, it was also successful, and a heartfelt "thank you" goes out to all the people involved. The 24 participants included some folks who have cleaned up the river in previous years and some who had never been involved before. It's great to see both long-standing and new supporters. In a mere 3 mile stretch, starting north of Fort Dodge, we pulled about 25 tires, 2 or 3 barrels of non-recyclable trash, and half a flatbed of old metal.


 Special thanks:

  • to all the participants for the blood, sweat, and ruined clothes sacrificed for a good causeto Mark Campbell, owner of Amigo's, for the pizza and pop served to the participants after the clean-up
  • to Fort Dodge Park & Rec for their help with the trash and the beneficial partnership they provide
  • to Don Pirie for his endless support of river clean-ups since we started.

We've hosted an annual clean-up since 2005 and plan to continue the tradition. The Des Moines River is an important natural resource running through our county. It's encouraging to see the support of those who care. Events like these are only successful and fun with the work of so many people. This great stewardship event shows how the public has taken ownership of what they value. Thanks so much.


Jul 17 Linn County Water Trail Stakeholders (Landowners) Meeting Report
Report by Gregg Stark:

It was 100 degrees outside Horseshoe Lodge at Pinicon Ridge County Park in Central City, and it wasn't about to get any cooler inside. Linn County Conservation officials had invited 200 landowners from along the Wapsipinicon River to discuss the possibility of pursuing development and formal designation as a water trail, and it appeared that about half that number attended, in spite of the heat.


Among those coordinating the meeting, making presentations, and answering questions were Peter Hoehnle, Director of Iowa Valley Resource, Conservation & Development office; Aaron Batchelder, Linn County Conservation Wapsi District Park Ranger; Dennis Goemaat, Deputy Director Linn County Conservation; and John Wencke, IDNR Water Trail Coordinator.


Wapsi WT Mtg
Peter Hoehnle & John Wenck facilitate discussion of landowner concerns.

It quickly became apparent that many attendees felt, "if it brings more of the problems we already have, we don't want anything that will increase the number of paddlers or tubers."


Landowners cited a litany of objectionable behavior, including drunk & disorderly, trespassing, vandalism, public nudity, gunshots, unruly dogs, loud music, bridge jumpers, trash, and broken glass, with no sign of improvement.


Organizers noted that this was probably the first time that landowner input was solicited before development of an Iowa water trail was initiated. Along with airing the concerns of landowners, the meeting did clear up a number of misconceptions. Water trail designation does not restrict stream use by any type of craft, with or without power. Landowner property rights, as defined in Iowa code for meandered, non-meandered, and navigable streams would not change. Canoes and kayaks over 13' in length are currently required to be registered, the same as powered craft.


It is unclear how many attendees clearly understood the concept of a water trail or the potential benefits of creating a community effort, attracting more responsible paddlers, improving public facilities, and increasing education & enforcement. It did appear, however, that nobody was satisfied with the status quo.


Unfortunately, the experiences of landowners along the Wapsi in Linn County are not unique in our state. Perhaps you are addressing similar situations in developing your water trail? Or maybe you have a success story about how development of your water trail has reduced such problems? Or maybe you have some advice or encouragement for the development of an effective community of stakeholders? Organizers in Linn County would certainly appreciate your input, and we would like to share it here in the IWTA Newsletter. Please contact us at


Photo by Gregg Stark 

Jul 23 CIP Des Moines River WT History Float Report
 (IWTA asked organizers of this Central Iowa Paddlers history-centered event to share their report as an example for consideration by other groups and Water Trails.)
Report by Steve Parrish:

 DM History CIP

On Sunday evening I read a CIP email about a history tour of the Des Moines River scheduled for the next day. I thought "Hey, I can do that float, even if it's going to be over 100 degrees." Good call on my part! The trip involved meeting new paddlers, learning local history from a new perspective, and seeing sights on the river banks that escaped my attention in the past. But the icing on the day's 102 degree cake was the visit to a Victorian mansion near the 6th Street Bridge. Our hosts, Ellen King Huntoon and Curt Systma, treated us to a wonderful summer spread of food and drink, and a tour of their 1898-built mansion.


The actual paddle was a short jaunt from Prospect Park to the Birdland Marina, not much more than a mile. John Wenck filled us in on the history of that busy stretch of the Des Moines River, and we paddled and walked the river banks to see remnants of that history. As John did his talk and we looked at historical photos, the whole story came alive for me. Particularly as we stood at the crow's nest balcony of the mansion, towering over 100 feet above the shore, I could visualize how nature and commerce collided and compensated in a rapidly growing city like Des Moines. I could imagine how the 6th Street Bridge transitioned from metal to brick to its current structure, even as we could see the new construction going on for the bridge. This tiny stretch of urban waDM History CIP Outsideterway was home to an ice house, amusement park, bath houses, and a constantly changing stream of commercial and recreational ventures. To imagine this growth from the viewpoint of the river provided a way of seeing history few can experience.


My thanks to John Wenck, CIP, the DNR, and particularly our hosts at the mansion. Imagine--while most people were hunkered down in their air-conditioned houses, 12 happy paddlers had the joy of pleasant waters, good food and company, and incredible views of the historic Des Moines River!


Photos by John Wenck

Jul 24 Forest City Streamkeepers Promote Winnebago WT in Puckerbrush Parade


(Does your WT need a little more visibility, publicity, promotion, & support?)

Report & photos thanks to Robert Schwartz & friends:

 Purckerbrush Golf Cart

On July 14, 2012 Forest City held its annual Puckerbrush parade. This year's Grand Marshall for the parade was the Forest City StreamKeepers, a volunteer organization that helps maintain the Winnebago River Water Trail north of Forest City. The theme of this year's parade was Treasure Island, so volunteers put their canoes and kayaks on top of golf carts and in the back of the lead pickup truck and decorated them with a pirate theme.


Russ Garfin, the group's leader, said the parade was a great way to draw attention to the mission. The local paper also wrote a front page article about the Streamkeepers in conjunction with the event. According to Garfin, "Our participation sparked interest in the organization and we are already getting new volunteers. The Streamkeepers haPurckerbrush Pickupd so much fun being in the parade that the group is planning on doing it again next year."


Pictured on the golf cart are Jeff and Colleen Hovinga. Jeff leads the StreamKeepers, and has organized the Aug 4 "Tree Town Adventure Race" (see details elsewhere in this newsletter). The triathlon includes a kayak/canoe race, 5K run and bike race in and around Forest City.


WhatIsItWhat Is It?
Kildeer Quarter 

Some of you may have guessed sandpiper, but this is a killdeer. The killdeer is a shorebird, but is frequently seen around urban turf areas and parking lots, and has a reputation for nesting almost anywhere, from a simple ground scrape to graveled rooftops. The killdeer is famous for its "broken wing" display, used to draw a predator away from its nest.


According to the "All About Birds" website: "These tawny birds run across the ground in spurts, stopping with a jolt every so often to check their progress, or to see if they've startled up any insect prey. Their voice, a far-carrying, excited kill-deer, is a common sound even after dark, often given in flight as the bird circles overhead on slender wings.


"Killdeer have the characteristic large, round head, large eye, and short bill of all plovers. They are especially slender and lanky, with a long, pointed tail and long wings. Brownish-tan on top and Kildeer Profilewhite below. The white chest is barred with two black bands, and the brown face is marked with black and white patches. The bright orange-buff rump is conspicuous in flight.


"Killdeer spend their time walking along the ground or running ahead a few steps, stopping to look around, and running on again. When disturbed they break into flight and circle overhead, calling repeatedly. Their flight is rapid, with stiff, intermittent wingbeats. Look for Killdeer on open ground with low vegetation (or no vegetation at all), including lawns, golf courses, driveways, parking lots, and gravel-covered roofs, as well as pastures, fields, sandbars and mudflats."

Kildeer info, audio, & video at "All About Birds" website:


Sandpipers share many general characteristics with killdeer, but their breast coloring is mottled or spotted, not the clear horizontal bars displayed on the killdeer. "Look for Spotted Sandpipers nearly anywhere near water-along streambanks, rivers, ponds, lakes, and beaches, particularly on rocky shores. This species is one of the most widespread breeding shorebirds in the United States and is commonly seen near freshwater, even in otherwise arid or forested regions."


Photos by Gregg Stark

We Hope That You Enjoyed This Issue of the IWTA Newsletter
Leopard Frog 

We are very pleased with your contributions to this, only the second issue of the IWTA Newsletter.  We hope that you will continue to email your events, reports, ideas, and suggestions to


For our September issue, we are particularly seeking your input regarding the following:

  • Dealing with landowner and stakeholder concerns
  • What a water trail means to you
  • Low water activity ideas
  • Fall color events

If you are not a subscriber, please click on the "Join Our Mailing List" button to become one.  And, we hope you will continue sharing the IWTA Newsletter with your friends via the "Forward this email" or "Share on Social Media" buttons.

Thank you for your support and encouragement.



Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter