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Iowa Water Trails Association 
September, 2012  
What WT Means to Carol Sweeting
Sep 6-7 IDNR Canoe School
Sep 8 West Nish Stream Stomp
Sep 8 Paddle Odessa WT
Sep 22-23 Iowa Outdoor EXPO
Sep 22-23 Lower Wapsi Cleanup
Sep 28-29 Iowa River WT Cleanup Hardin Co
Oct 6 Iowa River WT Cleanup Iowa City
Oct 6-7 Overnight on Pool 14
Oct 7 Jones Co Fall Colors Outing
Nov 3 Louisa Fall Colors Paddle
Is Amana Indian Dam Extinct?
Nominate River Town of the Year
Environmental Education Grants
Friends of the White River
Iowa Mussel Corps Needs You
Aug 4 TTAR Race Results
Aug 9-19 IDNR Exhibit Report
Aug 11 Turkey Rocks! Report
Aug 18 Cedar Rocks! Report
Aug 18 Floatzilla Report
What Is It?
We Need your Input


Report Kills & Spills Logo  

Wow!  Do we have news for you!


Mussel-building?  Indian Dam extinction?  Canoe school?  WT cleanups?  Fall color floats?  Stream  stomps?  River Town of the Year?  TTAR race results?  Rockin' River reports?  It's all in here, plus our regular "What Is It?" quiz and "What a Water Trail Means to Carol Sweeting."


TTAR 2012 009

We encourage you to use the "article links" in the left column to select from among the 11Coming Events, 5 General Interest Stories, and 5 Reports. 


Thank you for your support, your encouragement, and especially your submissions of events, reports, photos, and ideas.  It takes a while to grow a network of Water Trail supporters, but we're on our way.  The fall color float season will begin in Iowa during September, and we would like to help promote your scenic WT event in our next IWTA Newsletter.  Please note the Quick Link to our Submission Guidelines.  We look forward to hearing from you.


Unfortunately, the recent low water levels caused the cancellation of two WT events in August. The Aug 18 West Nishnabotna WT Float was canceled, but replaced by a Sep 8 event.  The Aug 29 Lower Des Moines WT Geology Float was canceled, and rescheduling plans are currently uncertain.


The first day of autumn (autumnal equinox) occurs Sep 22, a little reminder to get out and enjoy nature's ever-changing displays along our Water Trails.  We hope that you and your Water Trail can make the most of the season.

What Is It?
BFly Larva 038

This yellow-black-white striped caterpillar was found in mid-August on a common milkweed plant in a sunny spot close to the Cedar River in Linn County. 


What Is It? 


Make your best guess, then click on
What "Water Trail" Means to Carol Sweeting
IWTA Logo edited jpg


Our thanks to Carol Sweeting, paddler, Iowa River cleanup organizer, and Public Information/Volunteer Coordinator with the Iowa City Public Works Department, who shared these evocative thoughts on what a Water Trail means to her:


"What a water trail means to me is an opportunity to forget the rest of my life.  When I climb in my kayak and paddle along, with each stroke I feel the pressures of life washing away.  At some point I start hearing more clearly, identifying birds by their voices, fish jumping in the water and sometimes a far-off voice.  My sense of smell becomes keener--the musky smell of a bottom wetland, some critter that's gone on to the promised land, wildflowers blooming up on the bank, and an occasional skunk that's marked his territory.  


My favorite experiences are the sights; it's like looking at a "Where's Waldo" picture. Fowl families and deer are more visible, others you have to have a keen eye for, like water snakes, otter slides, and blue herons feeding.  During a paddle in 2008 I saw a coyote trotting along a bank at almost eye level, just a few feet away.  Then it comes rushing back like a leaf in a rapid-- "Life"--back to reality at the take out."



We continue to ask 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 want to share one such example each month, so please contact us at 


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Sep 6-7 Canoe School by IDNR--Last Call for 2012!

Summer is winding down but there are still openings for the final Iowa DNR School of 2012! This 2 day canoe class is for naturalists and trip leaders, and the cost is only $25.  Two certified American Canoe Association/IDNR instructors will teach you the skills to guide your group safely downriver, along with paddling skills to share with your participants. You will stay overnight at Briggs Woods or in town.  


The class will include classroom learning, flat-water skills on the lake, and then moving-water skills on the river the final day. You will learn a lot and will have a blast doing it!! Reserve your spot NOW as we have only a few openings left and this is for Thursday and Friday, September 6th and 7th. Call or email instructor Todd Robertson with any questions: or 515-979-9538.  


More information and printable registration form at 

Sep 8 West Nishnabotna WT "Stream Stomp"

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


The public is invited to a "Stream Stomp" along the West Nishnabotna Water Trail, starting in Botna Bend Park, Hancock, IA at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 8.


West Nish Emily Haase
Meandering stretch of the West Nishnabotna

We will begin 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 begin "stream stomping" to look at 

different aquatic flora and fauna.  Attendees should bring plenty of sunscreen & drinking water, and pack a sack lunch to enjoy on a sandbar, plus appropriate footwear for safely "stream stomping."


This event will be free to the public, and will not include canoes and kayaks.  If you have questions, please contact 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          


Photo by Emily Haase

Sep 8 Paddle Odessa WT, Louisa County

Invitation from Katie Hammond, Director, Louisa County Conservation Board:


Odessa WT Brfg
Julie Ohde briefs Odessa paddlers in 2009

This is the first in the "Peddle-Paddle-Walk-Trot" series of Louisa County trails events.  PADDLE through beautiful Burris Ditch on the Odessa  Water Trail.  This paddle will follow part of the South Trail of the Odessa Water Trail. It will be an out and back along the winding curves of Burris Ditch to the old pumping station and back. The put-in location is just before the Toolesboro Boat Landing on the Mississippi River.  A limited number of canoes & kayaks are available.  Registration is required by Sep 6. 


When: Saturday, September 8, 2012, 9:00 am - 2:00 pm 
Where: Odessa Water Trail, Burris Ditch Access 
Who: Everyone 
Cost: $15/kayak (solo) or $20/canoe (double); no fee if you bring your own boat but donations are accepted.
To register: Registration required if you want to borrow a boat. 
Register online or call 319-523-8381 Download packet (.pdf)

Photo by Gregg Stark

Sep 22-23 Iowa Outdoor EXPO For Kids & Families
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. 


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


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Sep 22-23 Lower Wapsipinicon River Cleanup, Clinton & Scott Counties
Tree & Tire Stark


The 2012 cleanup 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

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Sep 28-29 "Hey, We Missed a Spot!" Iowa River WT Cleanup, Hardin County
River Cleanup Nick w Refrig
"Leave no trash" paddling ethic

Invitation from Mary Hyland:


Project AWARE 2012 on the Iowa River in Wright, Franklin, Hardin, and Marshall County was a huge success with over 1,300 tires and 60 plus tons of trash, of which 86% was recycled.   However, due to low water levels and high trash levels we had to skip a section of river between Eldora and Union. 


The Iowa River Greenbelt Resource Trust is hosting a "Keeping It Clean" event for this section on September 28th and 29th.  Eldora City Ramp to 290th Street Bridge (North edge of Daisy Long Park).  Register by September 18th to avoid a late registration fee.  Information and registration materials are at     


Schedule for Iowa River "Keeping It Clean," September 28 & 29, 2012:

Friday September 28th

4:00 pm/ongoing     Arrive at Daisy Long County Park, set up camp & register

Ongoing - Registration 

7:00 pm - Dinner    Catered by Camp David Restaurant - Iowa Falls

8:00 pm - Welcome & Introductions

Saturday September 29th   (8 miles)

Eldora City Ramp to 290th Street Bridge

7:00 am - Breakfast and lunch distribution

8:00 am - Plan for the day and safety talk

8:30 am - Shuttle (Rock-n-Row Adventures) from Daisy Long to Eldora City Ramp

8:45 am - Depart


Halfway point & trash pickup location (if available) to be determined

8 miles - Arrive at 290th Street Bridge (approx time on river 5 to 6 hours depending on water levels)

Pack, say goodbye, and depart for home.

Volunteers arriving on Saturday morning - please be on site by 7:00 am to register.

Daisy Long County Park amenities include modern restrooms, running water, electricity, & shelter.  Emergency Storm Shelter - Hardin County Savings Bank, Union


Who gets credit for this photo of Nick & friend? --editor 

Oct 6 Iowa River Cleanup, Iowa City, Johnson County

Iowa River Cleanup
Dan's partially-loaded canoe

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 


Photo by Dan Ceynar

Oct 6-7 Clinton County Overnight on Pool 14, Lock & Dam 13, Mississippi River
Logo Clinton Co Con

Paddle campers will meet at Lock & Dam #13, load boats and depart downstream by 9 AM. The group will cover approximately 15 miles of the Mississippi River's gentle, mainly backwater, currents, and travel through its largest island. We will camp in the vicinity of the mouth of the Wapsipinicon River and continue on early Sunday morning to L&D 14.


We have a limited number of paddle craft and equipment, 2 person tents, dry bags, cook sets and mess kits, free for your use. Call 563-847-7202 to register/reserve county equipment 


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Oct 7 Jones County Annual Fall Colors Canoe Outing, Maquoketa River
Invitation from Michele Olson, Jones County Naturalist:


Sunday, October 7, Maquoketa River, Pictured Rocks to Hwy 136 Access.

8:30 AM:  Meet to shuttle vehicles to take out.

9:30 AM:  Introductions, orientation, and launch from Pictured Rocks Access.


Pictured Rocks Access at 2010 dedication

This year's outing will cover approximately 12 river miles on the scenic Maquoketa River.  You will pass boulders, cliffs, and forestsrested limestone bluffs as you travel through the Pictured Rocks and Indian Bluffs Wildlife Areas. 


Participants will need to bring lunch and snacks, beverages, camera, warm aquatic footwear, dry-bags, extra clothing, sunscreen, etc.  


Paddlers will also need to bring their own canoes and kayaks or contact local canoe outfitters to inquire about canoe rentals and shuttle service.  Maps, information on rental businesses, etc. can be found at by clicking on conservation and downloads and links.  


Anyone planning on attending should contact Michele (by noon October 4) at (319)481-7987 or to pre-register. 


Photo by Gregg Stark

Nov 3 Fall Colors Paddle on Mississippi Backwaters, Louisa County

Invitation from Katie Hammond, Director, Louisa County Conservation Board:


Fall Colors Paddle on the Mississippi from 9-3pm starting at the Port Louisa Access and going to the Toolesboro access.  View the splendor of the fall colors as we paddle down the Mississippi River Trail of the Odessa Water Trail.  We will stay near the Iowa shoreline and paddle mostly backwaters, away from the main channel.  There is a short portage around the spillway at Lock and Dam 17.  This beautiful stretch of the Mississippi River will offer great wildlife viewing and scenery as we pass behind several islands.  Bring a sack lunch and plenty of water to drink.  A shuttle will be provided, but you must register for shuttle service. Registration available online at 


When: Saturday, November 3, 2012, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm 
Where: Odessa Water Trail - Mississippi River Route, put in at Port Louisa NWR and take out at Toolesboro Landing 
Who: Experienced paddlers 
Cost: $20/kayak (solo) or $25/canoe (double) includes shuttle; no fee if you bring your own boat but donations are accepted 
To register : Registration required if you want to borrow a boat or need a shuttle. Register online beginning October 1 or call 319-523-8381


Is the Amana Indian Dam Extinct?

By Peter Hoehnle, Executive Director & Project Manager, Iowa Valley RC&D.


Prior to the flood of 1993, the "Indian Dam" was an often-photographed fall landmark in the Amana area. Pictures of this graceful stone "V" have been made into postcards and printed in books. Local artists have painted it many, many times. In 1977, it became an Iowa State Preserve and, eleven years later, was named to the National Register of Historic Places.


 The origins of the dam, technically a "fish weir," or "trap," are shrouded in the mists of time; we have no real idea of when it was built, or even how it was used.  Changes in the course of the Iowa River, siltation and other factors have now shifted the river bed away from the trap; when the river still flowed in its historic channel the trap spanned its width with two graceful arms, both nearly 150 feet long.


AmanaFishWeir 1920
Amana Fish Weir in the 1920's.

The trap is made of large stone boulders, taken from a nearby bluff, each about a foot to a foot and a half in diameter. Historically, the trap, which is about a foot and a half tall, has only been visible during dry weather when the river is very low.


You can reach the fish trap location by following the Amana Nature Trail, which begins at the intersection of Highways 151 and 6 near Homestead.  (editor's note: The site is visible from the bluff at the trail's farthest point from the parking lot.  Climbing down the bluff would be somewhat dangerous, and would be trespassing on private property.)


Similar structures have been found in Missouri, Wisconsin and Tennessee, but this is the only still intact example in the Midwest.  Who built the trap, when, or how they used it are mysteries that will probably never be solved. The trap was probably built within the last 300 years, because the Iowa River has shifted so much over time. If the trap were built earlier, it possibly would not have been visible in the river in recent history. 


The trap was in existence in 1844 when Iowa County was first surveyed and it was noted by the survey team as a "fall" on the original survey map.


In 1924 Charles Keyes, an early Iowa archaeologist, wrote about the fish trap in a State Historical Society of Iowa publication. Keyes was the first archaeologist to note the trap, or to make a study of it. 


 Experts agree that the trap was built by an historic Native American culture. Both the Meskwaki and the Ioway tribes have been suggested as possible builders. The recent discovery of an historic Meskwaki village near South Amana lends additional credence to the belief that the Meskwaki may have built the trap.


AmanaFishWeir 1960
Amana Fish Weir in the 1960's.

Although no one knows exactly how the trap worked, similar stone weirs served as the base for a structure of branches and brush. The fish would not be able to pass this wall, and would be forced into the small opening at the point of the "V" where they could be caught. There is a small oval shaped "holding pool" near the point of the "V," and one theory is that the fish were thrown into this pool until they were needed. In 1988, a team tried to trap fish against the weir by beating the water upstream to force the fish into the point. This effort did not net a single fish, so the mystery of how it worked is still open.


This past August, at the height of the drought of 2012, a team from the Office of State Archaeologist, led by William Whittaker, walked the Amana Nature Trail to the Indian Dam site. Earlier, Dr. Whittaker had painstakingly examined historical aerial views of the river bend where the trap is located. He was able to mark the course of the river in the late 1930s (the earliest aerial image) as well as the trap itself. Referencing these pictures with aerial pictures taken in the intervening years, he was able to demonstrate how the river moved to the north. As early as the 1950s, the southern arm of the trap was already silted over and under the bank. Leafing through the aerial maps is like watching a flip book as the trap slowly slips underneath a silt bank as the river moves to the north.


Using a sophisticated satellite mapping device, the team was able to walk through weedy underbrush to the point where the trap was located. As if to confirm that they were indeed at the right spot, the team found two very long mounds of silt and weeds which, when viewed from the bluff above, make a perfect V. The current theory is that the trap is still intact under these mounds of silt, but at least five or more feet below the surface.


The answer to the question that Amana residents have posed since the flood of 1993, "what happened to the Indian Dam?," is that the historic rock structure is probably still there, buried under 5 or more feet of silt, while the Iowa River has shifted considerably to the north and north east. From an archaeological point of view, the Indian Dam is ideally preserved, since archaeologists know where it is, and it is now protected by layers of silt. This is small consolation, however, to those who are familiar with the dramatic and very beautiful photographs made of the graceful V in the river in past years.


Photos courtesy Amana Heritage Society

Nominate the Next IRR "River Town of the Year"
Charles City Overview
Charles City Whitewater Kayak Course

Iowa Rivers Revival -- an organization committed to protecting Iowa's rivers and streams and watersheds -- invites you to nominate your city for IRR's River Town of the Year award.


The annual River Town of the Year award recognizes an Iowa town or city for outstanding efforts to reclaim river-fronts as anchors for economic development, recreation, and good ecological practices. Cities are invited to apply for the award, or citizens may nominate their town.  Applications are due by November 1, 2012. The award will be presented in January 2013 at a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival in the River Town of the Year community.


For a detailed application, please go to   The web site has examples of towns' applications for the award, IRR news releases, and news coverage.  Previous "River Town" award recipients are Webster City, Elkader, Coon Rapids, Cedar Falls, and Charles City.


The River Town of the Year award recognizes a city's outstanding work to enhance connections to its river.  For example, Charles City was honored for responding to severe floods in 1999 and 2008 "by embracing the Cedar River with new ideas and bold projects," including transforming a low-head dam into Iowa's first whitewater kayak course and installing the state's largest permeable paving system.


Applicants must demonstrate commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality, and promoting the river as an asset to the town.  Examples might include: dam-safety efforts, river-oriented tourism efforts, river clean-up projects, Water Trail designation projects, innovative storm water and river protection projects, walking trails along the river, education and advocacy by local river or watershed groups, and efforts for river use and appreciation (restaurants, bed & breakfasts, bait shops, boat rentals).


Photo by Charles City Press

Environmental Education Mini Grants Available

Info from Rebecca Kauten, Senior Research Associate, Office of Recreation Resources, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614-0241, 319-415-0476


Since 2008, the Iowa Conservation Education Coalition (ICEC) has been an active partner in a four-state initiative to advance environmental literacy in K-12 formal and non-formal education. This coalition recently was awarded a grant from the EPA which enables a series of mini-grants up to $5,000 each. The goal of these grants is to forward the respective mission, goals and objectives related to environmental literacy in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri as defined by each state's stakeholder groups.


According to the Iowa Environmental Literacy Plan (ELP), Iowans should have, upon high school graduation:

  • A fundamental knowledge of natural world systems and human impact on the environment.
  • The ability to identify and analyze environmental issues and use evidence to defend personal judgments and resolve issues.
  • The confidence, motivation, and personal responsibility to engage in civic action for the environment.

Eligible applicants may receive up to $5,000 to advance environmental literacy in our state(s). Proposals are due October 4, 2012.  The request for proposals and other information are available via the KACEE website at:  Page 6 specifies key priorities and objectives for Iowa-related proposals.


If you or someone you know might be interested in serving as a proposal reviewer, please let me know and I can pass along information on that as well.


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Friends of the White River -- WT Support Group Example


White River Indiana Does your WT have a "Friends Group?"  Are you considering forming one or improving the group you have?  Or do you wonder how such a group could benefit your WT?  You might gain some insight and ideas from the Friends of the White River group in Indiana.


The Friends of the White River provide support, activities, publicity, and a website for the White River, which flows in two forks across most of Central and Southern Indiana, creating the largest watershed contained entirely within the state, draining all or part of nearly half the counties.  Check it out at 


Thanks to John Wenck for tipping us off to this one.  Do you know of an exemplary group or website you think other WT supporters would like to know about?


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Iowa Volunteer Mussel Corps Needs Your Help
Mussel Pile
Mussel Pile 2011 Iowa River

What is the Iowa Volunteer Mussel Corps?  It's a chance to help DNR scientists more quickly develop solid baseline data on mussel populations throughout Iowa.  Iowa still has at least 35 species of mussels that reproduce in our waters...and maybe more if we could find them.  (Historic data is very sparse with only partial surveys in 1984 and 1999.)  Iowa needs this information to protect mussel populations and as indicators of water quality.  Adjacent states have as much as 10 times the mussel data as Iowa.


Plus, it's tremendous fun and you'll learn a lot.  You'll come to recognize the Threehorn Wartyback and the exquisite Pistolgrip among many other mussel species.  You'll learn how mussels have evolved amazing ways to lure hosts for their larvae (glochidia) such as waving little minnow-like appendages to attract passing fish who will host the glochidia on their gills until the juveniles later drop off in suitable habitat.


Who is eligible to join the volunteer mussel corps? Anyone 18+ years old willing to spend ~8 hours/day with a DNR team looking for mussels in Iowa rivers and streams.  You won't necessarily be swimming to look for mussels but swimming ability is essential for safety's sake.  A wetsuit is very helpful in staying

warm during a long day in the river and you need physical agility.  You don't need to be strong -- just able to bend over or snorkel to see or feel for mussels in the shallows and along a shallow bottom, or submerge a little to reach a mussel.


How do I get involved?

1.  Sign up with Jennifer Kurth of DNR, , or email volunteer Linda Appelgate, , with contact information so you can be notified via email of training and subsequent volunteer opportunities.

2.  Attend a 2-hour training workshop led by Jennifer Kurth, DNR biologist and malecologist (mussel expert), whose specialty is freshwater mussels.  Workshops will be held in Des Moines and either Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, depending on interest.  The training will include mussel biology, identification, collection techniques, ethics, personal safety, and hands-on learning.

3.  After training, Jen or another DNR staff member will inform you of volunteering opportunities to go out with DNR biologists and survey mussels this summer and fall.  You could go out once a season or many times.


More info at 


Link to story about "pollywogging," good & bad news from the 2012 Iowa Mussel Blitz:


Photo of Mussel Pile 2011 Iowa River by Mike Coffey, US Fish & Wildlife

Aug 4 Treetown Adventure Race, Winnebago River WT in Forest City--REPORT
TTAR 2012 006
Daryl Davison from Maquoketa

Report by Jeff Hovinga:


The most memorable part of TTAR 2012 was the low water level.  We thought that the river was low for the inaugural TTAR in 2011, but this year's level made it impossible to stick with the original 7 mile paddle plan.  One possible alternative to paddling was to add a short run through the Pammel Park Woods.  But being huge fans of the water trail, we didn't want to give up the paddle portion. 


TTAR 2012 08
Father/Son Steve & Pete Boenish from Mason City

So, we took advantage of about a mile section of river that was still somewhat backed up by a small rock dam located in Pammel Park.  There was basically zero current in this section.  Two boats were started at a time just above the dam and headed upstream to the turnaround point.  From there they headed back downstream to the exit ramp.  


According to the volunteer there, everyone did the 180 degree turn in the narrow, shallow river just fine.  Total paddle was about 1.3 miles.  From there the race continued with a 12 mile bike ride on our bike trail including Pilot Knob State Park and then a 5k run on the Hynes-Spur trail.



TTAR 2012 009
Kyle & Jennifer Peters from Iowa City



 The total number of participants was only 20, down from the 39 in 2011.  More were registered, but I think the big change in the paddle course is what caused some of them to not come to the race.  And it probably caused some not to register in the first place.  We also had a thunder storm and rain move through (can you believe it?!) just before the race.  



TTAR 2012 012
Missy Reynolds from Forest City



Comments varied.  The people whose strong discipline was paddling  wished the paddle was longer.  On the other hand, the less experienced paddlers liked the shorter course.


Some of the race proceeds will be donated to maintain the Hynes-Spur trail.  I'll let you know of our 2013 plans as they become available.  An earlier race date will probably be discussed.



A full list of TTAR Race Results and lots of photos by volunteer photographer Anthony Mikes can be found at:   


Photos by Anthony Mikes

Aug 9-19 IDNR Exhibit at Iowa State Fair--REPORT

Report thanks to Todd Robertson:


It was obvious that this was the 2nd highest attendance ever at the Iowa State Fair. Thousands of people stopped by the River Programs and Water Trails booth in the Iowa DNR building. The main draw, as always, was the low-head dam model. "How often can you play in a low head dam and survive?" asked Paul Simmons of Iowa City, who was visiting the fair with his entire family. Paul was referring to the model on display which allows kids and adults to drop toy boats into the hydraulics of a dam so they can see the result. The results are never good! Kids seeing that and how the dam works is essential for their future safety while recreating on Iowa rivers.


Another big draw was the SUP (stand up paddleboard) on display along with all of the video footage. SUP is the big thing right now and the interest at the State Fair was huge.


A big thanks to all of our volunteers and Water Trails staff who manned the booth this year. It was a busy time with people lined up 12 hours straight each and every day!  If you would like your name to be added to the volunteer list for next year, email and provide all of your contact information. You will get a free ticket into the fair, a water trails volunteer hat and the chance to talk with the public about paddling and Iowa rivers and lakes!

Aug 11 Turkey River Rocks! A Big Success in Clayton County--REPORT

Report by Larry Stone:


More than 60 adults and youth gained a greater appreciation of the Turkey River last Saturday at Turkey River Rocks! sponsored by Iowa Rivers Revival and a great group of local hosts and supporters. IRR board members Jerry Peckumn and Susan Heathcote were part of the crew for this special day of river activities that began in Elkader with a welcome by Elkader's Mayor Robert C. Garms, and ended downstream at the Motor Mill historic site.

TkyR Rocks 2012 Gary
Gary Siegwarth's animated "river barometer" presentation


The Turkey's natural and cultural attractions were the centerpiece of the day.  First-time visitors discovered "a clean and scenic river" that has been well cared for by Fayette and Clayton County residents, according to Peckumn. 


The morning's program included an overview of efforts to steward the Turkey and integrate the river into area economic development plans. Elkader Main Street Representative Roger Thomas, one of the event's hosts, announced the good news that the river had just been selected for a $330,000 grant through the River Enhancement and Community Attraction and Tourism (RECAT) program to create a whitewater course in Elkader. The whitewater feature will be one component of the new Founders Park, redeveloped in the "buyout" area inundated by Turkey River flooding in 2008.


Peckumn pointed out that IRR had a significant role in securing funding for river enhancement programs, including the RECAT grants, at this year's legislature.


Other presenters Saturday included:

     - Brad Crawford, Northeast Iowa RC&D, who talked about the Turkey River Watershed Authority.

     - Robin Bostrom, Turkey River Recreational Corridor, who talked about the new 98-mile Turkey River Water Trail and progress in development of a local multi-purpose recreational trail that will eventually link to other regional trails.

     - Gary Siegwarth of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, whose "river barometer" show-and-tell provided learning and entertainment at a sandbar stop.

     - At Motor Mill, Iowa writer and historian Larry Stone, also one of the event volunteers, discussed the restoration of the Turkey River bridge at Motor Mill, scheduled for completion late this year. Stone is a member of the Clayton County Conservation Board, which owns the mill and the surrounding 155-acre park.


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Lunch break along the Turkey River

Later, participants at Motor Mill applauded an excellent meal of fish and local produce prepared and donated by the Clayton County Conservation Awareness Network, with sweet corn contributed by Roger Thomas. The West Union music group Kindred Minds topped off the event with original and traditional music that included a song about the Turkey River written especially for Turkey River Rocks! A small group of participants stayed Saturday night for a quiet campout at Motor Mill, where at least a few meteors were seen darting across the heavens between bouts of cloud cover.


Thanks to the day's hard-working, dedicated hosts: the Clayton County Conservation Board, the Fayette County Conservation Board, Clayton County Conservation Awareness Network, Main Street Elkader, the Motor Mill Foundation, Northeast Iowa RC&D, the Turkey River Recreational Corridor, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries, and IRR.


Sponsors who provided generous additional support were Black Hills Energy, Clayton County Pheasants Forever, the Elkader Development Corporation, Freedom Bank, Bethany Lutheran Church in Elkader, the Elkader Chamber of Commerce and the Iowa DNR Water Trails Program.


Photos by Larry Stone

August 18 Cedar River Rocks! In Waterloo--REPORT
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Senator, outdoorsman, & chef Bill Dotzler


Approximately 60 paddlers and outdoor enthusiasts joined Iowa Rivers Revival and Iowa Senator Bill Dotzler for the 2nd year of Cedar River Rocks!, a pure river celebration, on Saturday, August 18.  Participants enjoyed a leisurely picnic (delicious food!) and brief program before floating from Senator Dotzler's property to Gilbertville Park.  It was a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy this scenic Iowa River and learn more about river issues.


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Boats wait patiently during picnic & program








Among those making short presentations, Senator Dotzler noted the importance of citizen support for legislative river initiatives, Marybeth Stevenson provided an update on the Cedar River Watershed Coalition, Cherrie Northrup reviewed Blackhawk County watershed management education, and Jerry Peckumn summarized recent efforts of the IRR.


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Blackhawk County Conservation Staff


Al Donaldson provided a safety briefing before participants launched their boats and paddled downstream, enjoying the beautiful weather and the challenge of following the channel on a lower-than-normal Cedar River.


Special thanks goes out to Senator Dotzler, Blackhawk County Conservation, and Iowa Rivers Revival for the hospitality.


Photos by Gregg Stark

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Aug 18 Floatzilla in Quad Cities--REPORT
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Lotzaboats at Floatzilla 2012


River Action's Floatzilla 2012 - the Quad Cities 3rd Annual Paddlesports Celebration was held Saturday, August 18. The event had over 1,600 paddlers and remains the largest gathering of kayaks and canoes on the Mississippi River. The celebration included a Guiness World Record-breaking attempt for the largest flotilla. (The record is 1,902 boats, set in Lake Inlet, NY.)  The Floatzilla event fell a little short of that record, but everyone had a great time!



The event included guided floats, a tradeshow, live music, food, free shuttles, and culminated with the world record attempt on the protected backwaters of Lake Potter.  For more information, contact River Action,the event coordinator, 563-322-2969, or visit 


Photo from Floatzilla website

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WhatIsItWhat Is It?

This yellow-black-white striped caterpillar is the larva of the popular Monarch Butterfly.  Monarchs favor common milkweed as a location to lay eggs and as a food source for the caterpillar (larva).

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Monarch Caterpillar shares common milkweed with ant

Most of us are aware of the 4 stages of a butterfly life cycle-egg, larvae (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis), & the adult butterfly.  Less well known is that Monarchs progress through 4 generations each year.


In California and Mexico, during February and March, the final generation of hibernating Monarchs comes out of hibernation to find a mate.  They then migrate north and east to find a place to lay their eggs, the beginning of the first generation for the new year.  In March and April, the eggs are laid on milkweed plants.  After 4 days, the eggs hatch into larva (caterpillar), which eat milkweed for about 2 weeks before attaching themselves to the plant to begin metamorphosis.  After 10 days of rapid change as a pupa (chrysalis), the Monarch butterfly emerges to fly away and feed on flowers, lay eggs, and die.  Similarly, the second generation of Monarch butterflies are born in May and June, the third generation in July and August.


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Monarch eggs on common milkweed






In the first three generations, the "parent" butterflies die within two to six weeks of laying the eggs.  


The fourth generation of Monarchs follows the same progression of egg-larvae-pupa-butterfly, with the butterflies emerging in September and October, but these butterflies do not die aft

er two to six weeks.  This generation is destined for migration to California or Mexico, living for six to eight months, when the whole process will start over.


So, it appears that the little critter in these photos is probably part of generation 4, and after transitioning through the pupa stage into an adult, will be making the long flight south.


Credit for this information, along with other butterfly resources: 


Link to an Iowa DNR article explaining the amazing life cycle of the Monarch:  


Photos by Gregg Stark

We Hope That You Enjoyed This Issue of the IWTA Newsletter
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Fall color along Cedar River above Cedar Rapids 2011

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


Special thanks to Peter Hoehnle for sharing his interesting article about the Amana Indian Dam.


The mission of the IWTA 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.


If you are not a subscriber, please click on the "Join Our Mailing List" button to become one.  And, we would appreciate your 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