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Iowa Water Trails Association 
February, 2013  
Feb 20 Free Outfitter Class
Feb 26 Environmental Lobby Day
2013 IDNR Canoe School
Mar 3 History DM River Navigation
"Iowa Waterways" Photo Contest
Mar 1-3 What a Hoot--International Owl Festival
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds
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We enjoyed visiting with some of you at the Iowa Paddle and Pedal Expo in Indianola.  The Expo is a nice way to spend some time while waiting for ice-out.  Thanks to those of you who signed up to subscribe to the IWTA Newsletter, although we're still struggling to decipher a couple of those email addresses.
Staying busy will make Spring seem to arrive sooner, so make plans to meet with legislators in Des Moines, register for DNR classes, learn about the history of commercial navigation on the Des Moines River, clean your lens before pursuing that winning "Iowa Waterways" photo, or discover how a town of 979 residents and one live owl created their own International Owl Festival.
Many thanks to those who responded to our call (begging?) for input to our quizzes--please keep your ideas and photos coming.  
We hope you enjoy this issue, and that you can do something positive for your WT yet this month. 
Feb 20 IDNR Free Outfitter Training Class at Pinicon Ridge
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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!


Feb 26 Environmental Lobby Day in Des Moines

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Members of Iowa's environmental and conservation communities are joining together on Feb 26 to urge lawmakers to provide strong state funding for programs that protect our land, water and natural resources.  This year's event will include individuals and organizations that belong to the Iowa Environmental Council, Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP) Alliance, and Iowa's Water and Land Legacy (WILL) Coalition.  Iowa Rivers Revival is a member of all three of these efforts.


The Environmental Lobby Day will begin with an 8:00 am briefing at the Wallace Building, followed by a series of activities at the Capitol Building, including visits with elected representatives, a news conference, and exhibits by many of the involved organizations.


To learn more about attending the Environmental Lobby Day, why you should wear a blue shirt, or how to support the event from home, visit 

or contact Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director, Iowa Rivers Revival, 515-724-4093, 

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.
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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. 


"Iowa Waterways" Theme Class for 2013 State Fair Photography Contest; Entries Due Jun 17
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
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: 


We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Okee Dokee CD
Congratulations to the Okee Dokee Brothers, who won a Grammy Award this month!
Congratulations to our friends Joe and Justin, the Okee Dokee Brothers, who just received a Grammy for Best Children's Album. The album was inspired by their paddling trip down the Mississippi, and includes both a cd and a dvd with scenes from the adventure.  It's great pickin' and paddlin' for kids of all ages.

If you are not an IWTA Newsletter 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