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Iowa Water Trails Association 
November, 2012  
IN THIS ISSUE-Click and Read!
Nov 14 IDNR Dam Project Funding Scoring Meeting
Nov 18-19 IPTV Dust Bowl Documentary
IDNR Canoe School Accepting Registrations for 2013
Planning with Purpose for Successful WT Events
Free Online Paddle Safety Course
We want to hear from you!



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds
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Jones Co Maq Float 2012
Jones Co Fall Colors Float, Maquoketa River WT. Photo by Michele Olson
Our Iowa temperatures took a nose-dive in the last 24 hours, but we have to remind ourselves that it is November, after all.  The colder weather seems to make the birds particularly active. Grassy areas are still carpeted in green, while the various species of trees display their unique patterns of branches and bark.  And, besides the conifers, who are those occasional hardy shrubs still waving their green leaves in the cold winds?  There's always something more to learn about our Iowa Water Trails.
Outdoor events, such as the Nov 3 "Odessa WT Float" and the Nov 4 "Skunk River Logjam," enjoyed moderate weather and excellent participation in advance of the weather change.  An indoor event, the Nov 11 "History Along the Lower Des Moines WT," drew an amazing 80+ participants on a rainy, blustery afternoon.  Watch for full reports on these events, plus much more, in our Dec 1 IWTA Newsletter.
Below are a few items which caught our attention, and which we thought you might find interesting.  We're also including the "Planning with Purpose" article from our November Newsletter to help stimulate more creative thought toward 2013 WT events.

Nov 14 IDNR Dam Project Funding Application Scoring Meeting in Des Moines
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Seven projects are vying for part of the funding available for IDNR Low Head Dam grants for FY 2013.  


The scoring committee will meet Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. in the Wallace State Office Building at 502 East 9th Street in Des Moines. The meeting will take place on the 5th floor in conference room 5W, and is open to the public.


The seven projects are requesting a total of $473,892 to assist with total estimated project costs of $2,798,385.  The competing projects are:

  • Cedar Lake Dam Portage Trail, City of Nashua
  • Design Phase-Burlington Street Dam Mitigation & WW Park, Iowa River WT, Iowa City
  • Mon Maq Dam Modification, Maquoketa River, Jones County Conservation Board
  • Quasqueton Rock Arch Rapids, City of Quasqueton
  • Rockford Dam Removal, Floyd County Conservation Board
  • WW & Habitat Improvements at Marion Street Dam, City of Manchester
  • WW Feature on Turkey River, City of Elkader
We hope to include results of the competitive funding in our next IWTA Newsletter.
Nov 18-19 IPTV Dust Bowl Documentary by Ken Burns

Dust Bowl Promo


Editor:  Given our recent "interesting" weather, this new documentary may give us some perspective on our environmental possibilities and options.



A new film by Ken Burns airs on IPTV November 18 and 19. Part 1 will be shown at two different times on Sunday evening, Part 2 at two different times on Monday evening.


The film chronicles the environmental catastrophe that--throughout the 1930s--destroyed the farmlands of the Great Plains, turned prairies into deserts, and unleashed a pattern of massive, deadly dust storms that for many seemed to herald the end of the world. It was the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history. 


The Dust Bowl is also a story of heroic perseverance against enormous odds: families finding ways to survive and hold onto their land, New Deal programs that kept hungry families afloat, and a partnership between government agencies and farmers to develop new farming and conservation methods.


See program info, dates and airing times at: 

IDNR Canoe School Now Accepting Registrations for 2013 Classes
Canoe School on Boone River
Canoe School on the Boone River, Todd Robertson


The 2013 IDNR Canoe School schedule and form is now up on the IDNR website. These have been very popular events, and space in these classes will be limited, so it is expected that all classes may be full by the first of the year.



More information and an application for Canoe School (scroll to bottom of web page) can be found at: 


Each 2 day canoe class is targeted for specific groups, such as naturalists, trip leaders, outfitters, etc. and the cost is only $25.  Two certified American Canoe Association/IDNR instructors teach the skills to guide a group safely downriver, along with paddling skills to share with your participants.  


Each class includes classroom learning, flat-water skills, and then moving-water skills on the final day. You will learn a lot and have a blast doing it.  Contact instructor Todd Robertson with any questions: or 515-979-9538.


Planning with Purpose for Successful WT Events

With some planning, a successful WT Event can accomplish a lot more than entertaining and educating participants.  Employing common-sense planning in the early phases can increase

neotropical flyways

attendance, engage more volunteers, reduce panic and burnout for organizers, and project a professional image.  It will generate valuable lead time to get your message in monthly newsletters and weekly newspapers.  It will improve the odds of success for your future events, enhance your ability to recruit more volunteers, build coalitions with other individuals and groups for future support and publicity, and raise awareness among even those who do not participate.


The easier part is starting the planning function by asking your leadership core some common-sense questions.  The more difficult part is committing your time and focus to really document and implement the answers.


Why do we need a WT Event?  Increase public awareness?  Raise visibility of our efforts and our WT?  Build support for development or funding?  Grow the base of committed supporters?  Engage local subject matter experts (SMEs).  Recognize volunteers?  Celebrate an accomplishment?  Provide recreation opportunity?  Provide education opportunity re history, art, or sciences?  Engage youth in outdoor activities?  Clean up the WT or a specific access?  Construct or improve an access?


Early Iowa River Map c1837

What will be the topic and focus of the WT Event?  Why will people be motivated to attend or participate?  What will the participant receive for his/her time investment?  Who are the most likely people or groups to attend this event?  How large is our potential participant group?  Can we state the "value proposition" in a single sentence?  "This event will (insert action verbs) . . ."  "As a participant, you will (insert action verbs) . . ."  Who will be the presenters, facilitators, guides for this topic?


When should we schedule this WT Event?    Is it related to a particular season of the year?  Is it weather-dependent?  Weekday, weekend, daytime, or evening?  Should it coincide with a holiday, national observance, anniversary date, or other community events?  

Purckerbrush Golf CartAre we avoiding events which would compete for our audience?  Have we consulted with planners or planning calendars at area County Conservation Boards and other similar groups?

Where should we hold this WT Event?
 Is this event best held indoors or outdoors?  Does it require electricity, audio-visual support, light control, or kitchen facilities?  Do we need an indoor backup for an outdoor event?  Is there a budget for site rental? Is the facility available for desired times of the day or days of the week?   


West Nish Stream Stomp Kids
Who will be responsible for this WT Event?  Are we the lead organizer, a co-sponsor, or one of the participants in a community-wide event?  Who in our organization is best-suited to provide overall leadership?  Who will be best to lead parts of the effort?


How will we publicize and promote this WT Event?  Do we have a solid outline of What/When/Where, a short event description, and a long event description?  Do we have a news release and a media contact list?  Do we have photos to support the 

Charles City Overview

event (previous similar activities, locations, presenters).  Do we have email address lists for likely participants?  Will other groups include our event on their websites or in their newsletters?  Are there local event calendar websites for our area?  Are we connected with local media people?  Can we prepare and utilize posters?  Does our event have any budget for advertising?


What are the financial realities of this WT Event?  Will we need significant underwriting?  A funding co-sponsor?  A grant?  Small donations?  In-kind donations? 

Okee Dokee Roller Coaster

Can we offer donors 501 (c) 3 certification for their tax reporting through our group or a co-sponsor?  What would be our expense if the event is canceled?  Will we charge a fee for the event?


Are we prepared for possible contingencies during this WT Event?  What are our options if the event is threatened by weather or water levels?  What if presenters must cancel or become ill?  What if our planned facility loses heat, water, or electricity?  What if only a small number of people register?


TTAR 2012 08
While many of these questions may seem to magnify the complexity and risk of an event, increasing "up-front" planning can reduce surprises, increase volunteer leader confidence, and maximize the value and enjoyment of your WT Event for all concerned.  
It has been said that, "Nothing succeeds like success."  
Invest in planning to make your next WT Event a success, and pave the way for even more successful (and easier) WT Events in the future.

Leopard Frog



Editor--This is the first in a series about planning and executing your WT Events.  Future articles will include "Building a Checklist for your WT Event," "Creating the News Release for your WT Event," and "It Ain't Over When It's Over--Extending the Value of your WT Event."

Free Online Paddle Safety Course
Logo Wear It

From Susan Stocker, 

IDNR Boating Law Administrator/Education Coordinator


I wanted to make your IWTA subscribers aware of our NASBLA approved FREE Paddle Safety Course which we recently launched as a free resource for students interested in paddle sports safety. Check it out at  


It's the only course of its kind, teaching basic safety information for paddlers. The mini-course is a great resource for all paddlers, new and experienced. Please feel free to share this link with others in the paddling community to help promote paddle sport safety in Iowa.


Developed by, America's leading provider of online boating safety education, the mini-course will guide you through the basic safety information required to safely use a canoe or kayak. The course material covers paddling terminology, equipment, trip planning, marine environment, safe operation, and emergency preparedness. The course was developed according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Paddlesports Education Standards and is NASBLA approved. 


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We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter


Thank you for your support and encouragement.  With the change of seasons, WT activities are shifting from group floats and access construction to indoor learning events, participation in public gatherings, and planning.  How are you maintaining interest in your WT during colder weather?  What initiatives are you planning for 2013?  


We look forward to hearing from you.  Email us at 


Mussel PG
Pistol Grip mussel,
Photo courtesy Illinois Natural History Survey
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Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter