TopIWTA Logo Color Border 



Iowa Water Trails Association 
February, 2013  
What Water Trail Might Mean to Pete Seeger
Feb 4 IRR Legislative Reception
Feb 8-10 Iowa Paddle Expo
Feb 20 Free Outfitter Class
2013 IDNR Canoe School
Mar 3 History DM River Navigation
Congratulations Central City!
Congratulations Dubuque!
"Iowa Waterways" Photo Contest
New Accesses for West Nish
Mar 1-3 What a Hoot--International Owl Festival
It Ain't Over When It's Over
Where Is It? Answer
What Is It? Answer
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds
Report Kills & Spills Logo  

It's still the off-season for on-water events (ice fishermen excepted), but we think we have some interesting items in this issue for just about everyone. 
Meet with legislators in Des Moines, visit with fellow paddlers and water trail supporters in Indianola, register for DNR classes, share the love for IRR's River Town of the Year Central City and River City of the Year Dubuque, clean your lens before pursuing that winning "Iowa Waterways" photo, cheer for the two new West Nishnabotna accesses coming in 2013, learn how a town of 979 residents and one live owl created their own International Owl Festival, and read the final installment in our WT Event Planning series, "It Ain't Over When It's Over.
Many thanks to those who responded to our call (begging?) for input to our quizzes, and we hope that you will keep your ideas and photos coming.  Be forewarned that some folks want the quizzes to be more challenging.
We hope you enjoy this issue, and that you can do something good for your WT this month. 
Where Is It? Quiz
Monument WBucholtz



Where Is It?



Make your best guess, then click on

What Is It? Quiz
Toms Last Three TSabotta



What Is It? 



Make your best guess, 
then click on

What "Water Trail" Might Mean to Pete Seeger

When Pete Seeger penned the song "My Dirty Stream (*The Hudson River Song)" in 1961, optimism for ever recovering the health of the historical Hudson River waterway was ebbing low.


"Sailing down my dirty stream
Still I love it and I'll keep the dream
That some day, though maybe not this year
My Hudson River will once again run clear"


By the time he wrote "Sailing Down My Golden River" in 1971, in support of his work with the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River, public awareness had increased and progress was being made.


Pete Seeger


Sailing down my golden river,

Sun and water all my own,
Yet I was never alone.
Sun and water, old life givers,
I'll have them where e'er I roam,

And I was not far from home.

Sunlight glancing on the water,
Life and death are all my own,
Yet I was never alone.
Life to raise my sons and daughters,
 Golden sparkles in the foam,
And I was not far from home.
Sailing down this winding highway,
Travelers from near and far,
Yet I was never alone.

Exploring all the little by-ways,
Sighting all the distant stars,
And I was not far from home.   


The story of the 106' sloop "Clearwater" is the tale of how a group of committed individuals used folk music and a majestic replica of an 18th century sailing vessel to create interest and rally support for the preservation of the Hudson River.  According to its website, "Clearwater was the first environmental group to focus on an entire river and its ecosystem, the first wooden sailing ship with a mission to preserve and protect the environment, and the first onboard environmental classroom accessible to children of all ages, races, backgrounds."


Learn more at:  



Feb 4 IRR Legislative Reception in Des Moines

IRR Logo  

From Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director, Iowa Rivers Revival:

You are invited to the IRR Legislative Reception, 5-7 pm, Monday, Feb. 4, in Des Moines.  The purpose of this reception is to engage our legislators, in a somewhat casual atmosphere, about the importance of river issues and funding.  Establishing and maintaining legislative relationships are key to ongoing support for river issues that can protect and improve Iowa's rivers and water quality.  With over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams in this state, nearly every legislator in Iowa is connected to one or many of these precious resources. 

When:  Monday, Feb. 4, 5-7 p.m.    
Where:  Noodle Zoo Cafe -- East 6th and Locust, Des Moines.
Open to the public.  Light appetizers and beverages provided.

Please let me know if you or others can join us to support efforts to raise awareness about the importance of river funding and protecting and investing in Iowa's rivers.
Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director, Iowa Rivers Revival
515-724-4093  |

Feb 8-10 Annual Paddle & Pedal Expo in Indianola

While the Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo, held annually in Indianola, kicks off the retail sales season for sponsor CanoeSport Outfitters, it also serves as an unofficial statewide gathering of paddlers to exchange information, share concerns, and renew friendships.  Attendees will find exhibits by many paddler and environmental groups, and presentations at 3 venues, all within a one block area.  


This year's Expo will be held Feb 8-10.  Find info on exhibits, presentation schedules, presenters, and other details at   


Feb 20 IDNR Free Livery/Outfitter Training Class at Pinicon Ridge
Iowa DNR Logo


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be conducting a training class for livery/outfitters on Wednesday, February 20th, at Pinicon Ridge Park near Central City, just north of Cedar Rapids. The class will be a one-day training session running approximately 10 am to 3 pm.  Goals include understanding river management and developing risk management plans, and participants will receive updates on rule and regulation changes.


Iowa now doubles the national average for paddlers on the water at 12% of the population, and new paddlers are coming on board and seeking outfitters to help plan their day/weekend. Make sure your livery service is up-to-date on knowledge and information.


The class will be taught by IDNR River Programs Director Nate Hoogeveen, and Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson. Both are certified paddling instructors through the American Canoe Association.


Please email to sign up and get more information. There is no fee, but the class size is limited, so sign up today!


Register Now for 2013 IDNR Canoe (& Kayak) School Classes


The 2013 IDNR Canoe School schedule and registration form are now posted on the IDNR website at

Space in these popular classes is limited and the first class is already sold out. If you are a Naturalist and lead groups out on the water and down river, then you need this class.


Each 2 day class is targeted for a specific group, such as naturalists or trip leaders, 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 

Canoe School on Boone River
Canoe School on the Boone River

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.


Photo by Todd Robertson
Mar 3 History on the River: Des Moines River Navigation Improvement Project of the 1800s.
Pathfinders RC&D Logo

The public is invited to a Water Trail Special Event at 2:00 pm on Sunday March 3, 2013 at the Bonaparte Opera House, to hear historian Dr. Rick Woten, of William Penn University, trace the story of efforts to enable commercial navigation of the Des Moines River from the Mississippi to the city of Des Moines.  


Please join us, as Dr. Woten recounts this tale of public controversy, litigation, and political bickering.


Even today, the Des Moines River exhibits traces of plans for a grand project to build a navigation system from the Mississippi River to the convergence with the Raccoon River in Des Moines. Saddled by controversies arising from an ambiguous land grant, adversarial titles, and the arrival of railroads, the idea of a navigable Des Moines River, serving as a great thoroughfare for the transportation of Midwestern produce, was never realized.


This program is the second in a series of talks on the history of the Des Moines River in southeast Iowa and is cosponsored by Pathfinders RC&D and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


There is no fee, but preregistration is requested for this event.

Click on the link below to register online.


Congratulations to Central City, the Iowa Rivers Revival "River Town of the Year." 
Central City IRR RTOY
Hiking & Biking Trail follows the Wapsi Riverfront.


IRR recognized Central City for revitalizing its relationship with the Wapsipinicon River over the past dozen years.  After the flood of 1999, the city became a Main Street Iowa community, worked with FEMA to buy out flood plain properties, dedicated the land primarily as riverfront parks, added playgrounds and a splash-pad, expanded walking and biking trails along the riverfront, with more landscaping and beautification projects to come.


Story on the award from the Cedar Rapids Gazette:

More info on the IRR website:  

Photo by Gregg Stark
Congratulations to Dubuque, the Iowa Rivers Revival "River City of the Year."
IRR Logo


IRR said "the historic city is in the midst of a renaissance in revitalizing its relationship to the Mississippi River-improving recreation, protecting the environment and bolstering its economy."  


IRR cited such examples as redevelopment of the Port of Dubuque, "daylighting" the Bee Branch Creek, the Dubuque Water Trail, Catfish Creek Watershed Management Authority, and 45 miles of bike and hiking trails.


More info on the award on the City of Dubuque website:

More info on the IRR website:

"Iowa Waterways" the 2013 Theme Class for State Fair Photography Contest
Indian Creek near ICNC Stark
Indian Creek below the "Blue Bridge" near Indian Creek Nature Center.


Superintendent Charley Starnes is challenging photographers to capture the "beauty and grace" of Iowa's Waterways for the 2013 Theme Class.  "I do NOT want to see snapshots of Iowa's Waterways.  Your goal is to photograph Iowa's Waterways.  What is the difference?  A snapshot is a casual photo without much thought or planning.  A photograph is an image that you actually create.  Show us Iowa's Waterways as we have never seen them before!"


This class is open to both color and black and white, photos may be of any season, and the submission deadline is June 17, so grab your camera, get out there, and start shooting.


Find more information, guidelines, and suggestions at:

Find rules and an entry form for all of the photo contest classes at:

Photo by Gregg Stark
IDNR Work Crew to Build Two Accesses Along West Nishnabotna River in 2013
Golden Hills RCD Logo


Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development and the Mills County Conservation Board have received two grants, through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources River Programs, to have a crew of five young adults from the Conservation Corps of Iowa construct two paddler access points along the West Nishnabotna River in Mills County.


Currently Mills County has no official paddler access sites along the river. With the installation of these two accesses, through the crew assistance grants, the county will be able to move towards their goal of becoming a designated Iowa water trail, extending the existing water trail from Pottawattamie County.


The Mills County Conservation Board currently sponsors group canoe trips down the Nishnabotna, but these accesses will allow the County to provide safer, more enjoyable experiences, more often, and to individuals with a wider range of mobility.


The Golden Hills RC&D Water Trail Coordinator will develop the access designs prior to construction. The two accesses will be installed sometime during the fall of 2013.


For more information or to be added to our list of stakeholders, please contact Emily Haase at Golden Hills RC&D at 712-482-3029 or


Mar 1-3 What a Hoot!  International Owl Festival
Owl Festival


Do you ever bemoan the fact that you couldn't possibly draw visitors to your small community?  "Nothing interesting happens here, nobody would spend time and money to visit us."  Houston, Minnesota (population 979) and the International Owl Festival is a case study to refute that kind of negative thinking. 


It all began with "Alice," a permanently-injured Great Horned Owl, who is the only live animal at the Houston Nature Center.  In 2003, they organized a March "hatch-day" party for the popular Alice, to teach folks about owls, raise funds for the center, and maybe draw a few tourists.  Organizers soon discovered that they had the only owl festival in North America.  By 2009, attendance had almost matched the town's population.  It continued to grow, drawing people of all ages from over 15 states and at least 8 countries. 


The festival has grown to a 3-day schedule of activities and events, including the Owl Hall of Fame awards, an owl-calling contest, owl-face pancake breakfast, owl game show, owl pellet dissection, live owl presentations, owl nesting box construction, owl photo contest, owl photo ops, and a bus tour.  There's plenty of fun for kids of all ages, but the festival also draws some folks with serious owl credentials.  This year's Saturday evening banquet will feature presentations by owl experts from Taiwan and Germany.  They say that the festival "takes place throughout Houston MN," and that utilizes venues as varied as the Houston Nature Center, Lutheran Church, St. Mary's Church, EFCE Building, and Valley High Golf Club.


The annual Owl Festival is held the first weekend in March (typical hatch date for owls in that area).  Houston is about an hour north of Decorah, located at the eastern terminus of the Root River State Trail. 


The website for the International Festival of Owls is a terrific example of creative writing, useful information, and community spirit:

Find a Root River State Trail map at:


It Ain't Over When It's Over - Extending the Value of Your WT Event


Your WT Event has ended, the participants have departed, the tables and chairs are stacked, the kitchen is clean.  Hopefully your presenters all appeared on time, the AV equipment cooperated, you covered expenses, and you heard positive comments as folks filed out. 


You have earned a good night's rest, but tomorrow morning, resist the urge to throw everything in a file drawer and jump on the next emergency.  There is a brief window of opportunity to maximize the value of all your hard work, and you don't want it to slip away.  Strategic follow-up can be the key to both short and long-term success.


In the first installment of this series, "Planning with Purpose for your Successful WT Events," we began by asking:


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?


Whatever your chosen goals, they might have been obscured by all the planning, scheduling, and last-minute details, so reconsider and reinforce them as you wrap up your event.


Can you justify a followup news release?

You distributed a news release in advance, but is there anything about the event's completion, results, or outcome that could be newsworthy?  Were there any unexpected presenter announcements, competition results, project decisions, votes, or dates set that might justify getting a little more visibility for your event or group? 


If so, refer to your earlier news release for format.  Create a new title and opening paragraph about the newsworthy fact(s), a second short paragraph summarizing attendance at the event with a (positive) organizer quote, insert your boilerplate "about our organization" paragraph, add a couple of photos, then proofread several times.  Time is critical on this-followup news has a very short life span.


We used to call it "housekeeping," but then "shopkeeping" became more politically correct.

  • Deliver on promises of additional information or materials to participants or presenters.
  • Secure photos from volunteer photographer for possible use in a news release, on website, etc.
  • Gather bills for prompt payment.
  • Add event participants to your organization contact lists.
  • Create an event summary for website and/or newsletter.
  • Return any borrowed tables, chairs, audiovisual equipment, etc.

Reaffirm relationships.

Your mother exhorted you to write thank you notes, and Mom is always right!  Keep in mind that it's a note, not a novel--keep it brief, include a couple of specifics, and thank them for their contribution to the event's success.  Your appreciation may be the bulk of their compensation.


Thank you notes should be sent to presenters, co-sponsors, key volunteers, and those who provided financial support, in-kind donations, catering services, facilities, photographs, etc.  Many, if not most, will be your partners in organizing future events.  Emails seem to be perfectly acceptable, but a handwritten note is a special touch.


Co-sponsoring or donor organizations may appreciate a thank you summarizing the impact of the event, suitable for inclusion in their own newsletters.


Provide volunteer recognition via newsletters, websites, and special emails.


It is appropriate to thank news media, especially at the local level, for their efforts to cover your event.


Secure honest feedback.

An email participant survey can gather quick feedback about your event's perceived value and opportunities for improvement, but it's also a useful vehicle to express your appreciation, publicize future similar events, or recruit volunteers.


A one-hour "reflection session" with your staff or key volunteers can create a brainstorm list of both positives to reinforce and negatives to work around, and maybe a couple of new ideas for future events.  Focus on honest feedback about the event.  Yes, you all may have poured your hearts into this event, but it's time to park your ego, listen, and learn.  If appropriate, schedule another session to address your findings.


Compare feedback with your event goals.  Did you achieve the desired participation, volunteerism, public visibility, fundraising, etc.?  Did you at least make progress toward the desired goals?


Deal with the financial details.

Ensure that you have received all anticipated bills.

Compare actual expenses to budget.

Schedule prompt payment of presenters, vendors, etc.

Follow up to resolve missing bills, unexpected expenses.


Prepare a single page summary of your event.

Your file can also include copies of planning goals, checklists, contact lists, presenter confirmations, vendor quotes, news releases, etc., but your single page summary should give you quick access to:

  • Event name, date, location, brief description of activities.
  • Presenter, topic, time frame, contact info.
  • Key volunteer organizers for event.
  • List of financial or in-kind supporters.
  • Number of participants.
  • Positives from feedback.
  • Negatives from feedback.

One last thing.

Following the suggestions in this series could very well increase the success of your events, facilitate easier organizing and execution of future events, and create a more professional image for you and your organization.  A solid collection of planning documents, checklists, news releases, and communication follow-ups will make it easier for your organization to continue its important work, no matter who may someday sit in your chair.  A few examples in your private collection might also be helpful, no matter which chair you may someday occupy.



This is the fourth and final article in an IWTA Newsletter series about planning and executing your WT Events.  Articles in the series include:

November 2012:  Planning for Purpose for Successful WT Events.

December 2012:  Building a Checklist for Your WT Event.

January 2013:  Writing the News Release for Your WT Event.

February 2013:  It Ain't Over When It's Over; Extending the Value of Your WT Event.


WhereIsItWhere Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Monument WBucholtz This month's Where Is It Quiz photos were submitted by Wayne Bucholtz, IDNR Park Ranger at Mines of Spain.

Info is from the City of Dubuque website:

The Julien Dubuque Monument stands on the edge of the bluff above Catfish Creek in the Mines of Spain Recreation Area.

This area is important historically in the Indian-French fur trading culture and the first record of lead mining by a French trader, Nicholas Perrot, in 1690. In 1788 Julien Dubuque was granted rights by the Mesquakie Indians to mine their land for lead. Dubuque settled close to the village of Kettle Chief just south of where the Julien Dubuque Monument now stands. It was here that Dubuque founded the first Euro-American settlement in what is now Iowa.
Dubuque eventually married Potosa, daughter of Peosta, the chief of the Mesquakie Indians. Dubuque died in March of 1810 and when he died the Mesquakie buried him with tribal honors beneath a log mausoleum at the site of the current monument. The Julien Dubuque monument was built in 1897 and sits high above the Mississippi River. It overlooks the Mines of Spain property in the town that would eventually bear his name. 
The monument is constructed of rock-faced limestone ashlar, a Galena limestone mined from a nearby quarry. This cylindrical tower is 12 feet wide and 25 feet high with walls approximately 18 inches in width. The bonding material and floor are cement. A rectangular, roughly shaped stone embedded in the center of the floor marks the grave site of Julien Dubuque. The door-like rectangular opening overlooks the Mississippi River.


Dubuque Water Trail


Travel by canoe or kayak along the Mississippi River between A.Y. McDonald Park and Massey Marina Park. Access the 11-mile Dubuque Water Trail at one of five points: ramps on the Mississippi River at A.Y. McDonald Park, Schmitt Island, and American Trust River's Edge Plaza in the City of Dubuque and at Massey Marina Park in rural Dubuque County, and the Catfish Creek canoe access in the Mines of Spain State Recreation Area. The Mines of Spain access also provides a five-mile loop on Catfish Creek.

Catfish Creek WBucholtz

Paddling on Catfish Creek

Whether paddling the shoreline of the main channel or enjoying backwater excursions, the trail is an exceptional sightseeing and recreational opportunity where history, nature, commerce and recreation come together. The trail can be enjoyed in its entirety in a day or in segments as time allows.


Five access points are offered along the trail, allowing paddler access to the river or an opportunity to exit the river and enjoy on-land recreational opportunities.  However your day or weekend enjoyment on the Water Trail is scheduled, life vests are always mandatory and paddlers are responsible for arranging transportation.


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


PDF WT maps and brochure at:


WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Toms Last Three TSabotta

Tom Sabotta of Cedar Rapids shared these photos of Black Crappie caught last month through the ice on Red Rock Reservoir. 


According to the IDNR website:


Black crappie are silvery with a dark back and green or blackish mottling on the sides; "hump-backed" with 7-8 spines in the dorsal fin; most of those caught by anglers are 8-12 inches in length.


They are found statewide, but are rare in western Iowa.  They feed on small fish, aquatic insects and their larvae.  Fish in brushy areas--if you aren't getting snagged often, you aren't fishing where the fish are!


Black crappie are intolerant of turbid waters and are nearly always found in the clearer lakes and streams in Iowa. It ranks common to abundant in the natural lakes and the backwater sloughs of the upper Mississippi River. It is a common resident in certain eastern Iowa rivers but rare in western streams. Most man-made recreational lakes contain black crappie, but their abundance depends greatly upon water clarity. Few lakes in Iowa contain only one crappie species.


Ice Fishermen TSabotta
David, Rick, Nick, and Tom display proper gear . . . and results.

Spawning requirements for black crappie are nearly the same as those of white crappie, but the nest size is slightly more shallow. The nest is usually constructed in 3 to 8 feet of water. Black crappie spawn at water temperatures of 58 to 64 degrees F. Fecundity of female black crappie may range up to 150,000 eggs, but 20,000 to 60,000 eggs are more the rule. Nests of both crappie species usually contain similar-sized egg masses.


Black crappie growth is somewhat less than that of white crappie, but they are heavier at the same length. The young attain body lengths of 2 to 3 inches in the first year of life and mature during the second or third year. Most of the black crappie caught by fishermen are 8 to 12 inches long, but occasionally very large, up to four pounds, specimens are caught.


The Iowa black crappie record is 4 pounds, 9 ounces - Green Castle Lake, Marshall County, May 1981 - Ted Trowbridge, Marshalltown, Iowa


Photos by Tom Sabotta

We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Okee Dokee CD
Best wishes to the Okee Dokee Brothers, who are up for a Grammy Award this month!
Special thanks to Wayne Bucholtz and Tom Sabotta for fueling this month's Where Is It? and What Is It? quizzes.  We look forward to sharing our subscribers' ideas and photos in future issues.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my call for quiz ideas and events. And, we welcome more!  

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.


Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter