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Iowa Water Trails Association 
September, 2013  
WT Reflections & Resources--As Viewed 10 Years Ago
Sep 14 Iowa River WT Cleanup, Iowa City
Sep 21 Burris City Story, History Presentation, Louisa Co
Sep 21 History Float, Iowa River WT, Louisa Co
Sep 21 Dragoon River Romp, Des Moines River, Boone Co
Sep 24 Critters of Iowa River Greenbelt, Presentation, Hike, Optional Paddle
Sep 28-29 Iowa Outdoor Expo, Des Moines
Sep 29 (FULL) Paddling Back in Time, Lower Des Moines River WT
Oct 6 Iowa River Greenbelt Geology Cruise Aboard the "Scenic City Empress"
Oct 6 Fall Colors Canoe Outing, Jones Co
Oct 11 IEC Annual Conference "At the Tipping Point"
IDNR "Keep It Clean--Keep It Fun For Everyone" Campaign
Report: Aug 19-22 Mussel Blitz on Wapsi River Finds Endangered Species
Where Is It? Quiz Answer
What Is It? Quiz Answer
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Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds
Report Kills & Spills Logo  
Dried Mud Wapsi Stark
Here we go again--no rain, brown lawns, the occasional tree dropping its leaves or changing color, low river levels, mud flats drying into a myriad of geometric shapes.
If you're looking for a silver lining, could it be the relative ease of searching for mussels? Or maybe excavating those tires which were hiding in the main channel?  Or taking some kids out for a "stream stomp?"
The great thing about our Water Trails is that all manner of natural conditions each presents an opportunity to teach & learn about cause and effect, natural cycles, and adaptation in the natural world.
Make the most of whatever Mother Nature sends our way. Get out and enjoy your Water Trail!
Where Is It? Quiz
Turkey River LSearles

Where Is It?

Make your best guess, then click on:

What Is It? Quiz
Hibiscus on Mississippi 1 Kip Hoffman

What Is It?

Make your best guess, then click on: 

Water Trail Reflections & Resources
Belted Kingfisher Nick Chill


In 2002, over 10 years ago, published an article "Water Trails, Paddling Paths of America" by Mark Leger.  The following excerpt includes a definition of water trails, along with a sense of their value to both environmental stewardship and outdoor recreation.


"The splash of your paddle and a bird call is all you hear: solitude. You're on the water, following a route paddled by countless others.


"Water has always been a connector: a trader's route, an explorer's journey, a traveller's escape. Nowadays, with the boom of canoeing and kayaking, it's an increasingly popular form of outdoor recreation. Following the lead of organized hiking trails, in recent years organizations have emerged to mark and maintain water trails.


"North American Water Trails, Inc. is a national coalition of organizations and individuals committed to creating water trails. They define a water trail as". . . a stretch of river, a shoreline, or an ocean that has been mapped out with the intent to create an educational, scenic, and challenging experience for recreational canoers and kayakers." A water trail can be almost everything a hiking trail can be: short or long, primarily historic or scenic, challenging or laid-back.


"One thing that all of these groups have in common is a mission of environmental stewardship: citizens actively care for the landscape and educate others on ways to cherish it. According to Dave Getchell, author of the Modern Water Trails, a guide to establishing and maintaing recreational waterways, "We're stressing the stewardship, in other words taking care of the resource and doing everything as low impact as possible."


"An important way to learn about a body of water is to simply be in it, which is where the recreational dimension of water trails enters the picture."

Read more: 

Sep 14 Iowa River WT Cleanup, Iowa City
Iowa River Cleanup 2012
Iowa River WT Cleanup 2012

Sturgis Ferry to Hills Access--9.5 miles of mud, sweat and tires.  You in?

Join us for a one-day float down the Iowa River where volunteers (some in canoes and kayaks, others on land) will remove garbage and recyclables from the river and its banks. Paddlers and participants of all ages and skill levels are needed.

Need a canoe?  A limited number of canoes, paddles and life jackets are available free of charge.  Canoe reservations must be completed by September 6.  

All other registrations may be completed up to the day of the event.

To register: 

More info:  
Paddling questions: Dan Ceynar at 319-321-1755 or 
Registration questions: Carol Sweeting at 319-541-2385 or 

Photo by Laura Roberts
Sep 21 The Burris City Story, Presentation at Toolesboro Mounds & Museum


There were big plans for Burris City and things started out pretty well, but the river had a different plan in store. Find out the fascinating history behind this ghost town where you can still find bricks and other artifacts on the shore of the Mighty Mississippi. A program with speaker Ron Kerr will be held at 9:00 A.M. at the Toolesboro Mounds & Museum. Everyone is welcome to attend this free program.


In the afternoon a float trip will take paddlers down the Iowa River from Oakville to the mouth of the Mississippi River and upstream a short distance to the site of the former town. LCC naturalist Kathy Dice will lead this trip and add her knowledge about the history of the Iowa and Mississippi Rivers. The paddling trip is also free but participation is limited to 20 boats. Find out more about the float trip.


This event is an official Iowa River/Odessa Water Trail event cosponsored by Louisa County Conservation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Pathfinders RC&D. The event is free but all participants must be registered in advance.


When: 9:00 AM, Saturday, September 21, 2013

Where: Toolesboro Mounds & Museum, east of Wapello, Iowa

Who: Open to all ages though geared more toward adults 

Fee: FREE, thanks to funding from the Iowa DNR Rivers Program


Registration: Register online or call Louisa County Conservation at 319-523-8381

Registration deadline: registration requested by Wednesday, September 18 but walk-ins are welcome


Sep 21 History Float Trip, Iowa River WT, Louisa County


You can start your day at Toolesboro Mounds & Museum with an optional program about Burris City, a once thriving town at the junction of the Iowa and Mississippi Rivers. Then head down the Iowa River to learn even more about the role these rivers have played in our local history from Kathy Dice, Louisa County Conservation naturalist.  


For thousands of years, people used the Iowa River to travel up to the heart of Iowa. We'll explore the ancient and colorful past of this river as we travel to where it meets the mighty Mississippi.  As we paddle, we will talk about the Woodland people who built the mounds along both rivers. Along the way we will point out and discuss why rivers were so important to people through time, not only for transportation, but for food, tools and recreation as well. We will end our trip at the Toolesboro Boat Landing to view up-close the old site of Burris City.


We'll paddle about 6 miles on the Iowa River Water Trail,  starting at Cappy Russell Access near Oakville. When we get to the Mississippi River, we'll paddle just a short way up the river to the Toolesboro Access. This will take us to the Odessa Water Trail - two water trails in one trip!!


This trip is an official Odessa and Iowa River Water Trail event cosponsored by Louisa County Conservation, Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Pathfinders RC&D. The event is free but all participants must be registered in advance.


Shuttling service will be available to anyone who needs it but we ask that you arrange for just one member of your party to use the shuttle. Details will be provided in the information packet. 


When: Saturday,September 21, 2013, 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM (you will need to arrive about an hour early to get your car to the ending point and be ready to go at 1:00) 

Where: Cappy Russell Access near Oakville to Toolesboro Landing on the Mississippi River

Who: Though not a difficult paddle, consider your paddling abilities since there is a short jaunt upstream; kids ages 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult 

Fee: FREE, thanks to funding from the Iowa DNR Rivers Program

Canoes Available: A limited number of canoes/kayaks are available, if you don't have your own boat; You will be able to reserve one during the registration process.


Registration: Register online or call Louisa County Conservation at 319-523-8381

Registration deadline: registration closes Wednesday, September 18 at NOON.

Space is limited and registration is required so sign up soon!


Sep 21 Dragoon River Romp, Des Moines River, Boone County
Tree & Tire Stark

The September 21, 2013 Dragoon River Romp will include cleaning a stretch of the river from the lower Fraser boat ramp to the Waterworks boat ramp. Volunteers will meet at 7 Oaks Recreation at 7:30 am.  At the conclusion of the cleanup, all volunteers will be transported back to Seven Oaks for lunch and awards presentation.  The event should end around 2:30 pm.


This event is free, but numbers are limited, so please preregister with Coordinator Lois Powers at 515-433-0591, email or visit 


In a continued effort to ensure safety, volunteers under the age of 18 must be in a canoe with a volunteer 18 or older. We will limit the number of paddlers to 100 and the number of land based volunteers to 45.


The Dragoon River Romp is a Keep Boone County Beautiful event. The vision of KBCB is a cleaner and more beautiful county. Our mission is to protect and preserve the beauty and quality of life through partnerships between citizens, business, neighborhoods and government and to continue to foster PRIDE in our County's environment. The Dragoon River Romp, which will be celebrating its 8th anniversary in 2013, embodies this mission.

Over the past 7 events the efforts of our volunteers resulted in 23.68 tons of trash being removed from our beautiful Des Moines River and its banks. Much of the trash is recycled and the remainder is deposited at the Boone County Landfill.

The event is planned to encompass both river-based and land-based cleanup teams. This provides additional opportunity for volunteers to become involved. An educational aspect is always included in the Dragoon River Romp. This event reinforces a commitment to protecting the environment and raises awareness about relationships of proper solid waste disposal and watershed protection.


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Sep 24 Critters & Wildlife of Iowa River Greenbelt; Presentation, Hike, & Optional Paddle
Hardin County Conservation Logo

Join us on Tuesday, September 24 for an adventuresome afternoon & evening as Dr. Jim Pease tells tales about the unique critters and wildlife that live in and along the Iowa River in Hardin County.  


Jim has paddled Iowa's rivers since age 12 and is a wildlife & interpretive specialist who will help you find and understand the critters that call the Iowa River Greenbelt home.   See below for more background on presenter Dr. Jim Pease.


Following the presentation there will be a hike along the nature trail at Calkins Nature Center to the river to see if Jim can conjure up some critters.   The indoor session and hike are limited to 20 participants.


An optional paddle will follow the presentation & hike at approximately 6:00 pm for a "round trip paddle" in and out of Weaver's Cove in Iowa Falls.   Maximum number of canoes/kayaks is 12.

Paddlers may use their own canoe/kayak/paddle/PFDs or contact Mary Hyland at 641-373-6302 to reserve one of the 6 canoes/paddles/PFDs provided by Hardin County Conservation on a first-come/first-served basis.   Everyone will be required to wear a PFD while on the water.


What to bring/wear:  Tennis shoes or hiking boots, and if paddling, shoes you do not mind getting wet, bug spray, water, sun glasses, jacket, and anything else you may need to be comfortable in the woods and/or on the river, plus an adventuresome attitude!


MAXIMUM NUMBER OF canoes/kayaks FOR THE PADDLE IS 12.  Please indicate the number
of boats for you and "friends" when you register.


This event is free, but preregistration is required.  This event is sponsored by Hardin County Conservation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


ONLINE REGISTRATION will be open until openings are filled or Friday September 20th.  

After that date, please contact Mary Hyland at 641-373-6302.  


Click on the link below to register. 



PRESENTER:  Dr. Jim Pease has over 3 decades of experience as a front-line interpreter, professor of interpretation, and writer and consultant on many interpretive and environmental education projects.  He has taught thousands, from youth through senior citizens, in formal and non-formal settings, written dozens of publications for professionals and lay people alike, and communicated by a regular statewide radio program, TV segments, podcasts, and websites.  His experience includes teaching interpretation to undergraduate and graduate students for 24 years, research on impact of interpretive and education strategies, over two decades as an Extension Wildlife Specialist, director of Iowa's NatureMapping and master Conservationist programs, and fifteen years in youth development and natural resources.  He helped design and coordinate Iowa's new Master River Stewards program with Iowa Rivers Revival.  Now retired from Iowa State University, he consults on a variety of projects, leads international trips, and can be heard monthly on Iowa Public Radio's "Talk of Iowa" program.


Find more information about Hardin County Conservation and Calkins Nature Center, at:   


Find more information about the Iowa River Greenbelt Water Trail at:,%20Hamilton%20Co.pdf?amp;tabid=868 


Sep 28-29 Iowa Outdoor Expo, Des Moines

 Logo Iowa Outdoor Expo

The Iowa Outdoor Expo for families and kids will be held on Saturday, September 28 from 9 am - 5 pm, & Sunday, September 29 from 10am - 4pm at the Des Moines Izaak Walton League and Water Works Park, 4343 George Flagg Parkway, Des Moines. 


Outdoor Expo 2012 SUP
Trying SUP was popular 
at the 2012 Expo.


The Expo has grown in popularity each year, and organizers expect this free event to experience its biggest year ever, providing thousands of children with their first opportunity to try SUP, canoeing or kayaking. 


Besides paddling, kids will be able to try their hand at activities involving fishing, fossils, live animals, camping skills, wildlife, and conservation.  All valuable skills for future "water-trailers."



Mike Delaney needs volunteers to help in the Water Sport Village again this year. Contact Mike at 


Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson could use a few (2 or 3) volunteers to help put lifejackets on kids and to help them get in and out of boats. Contact Todd at 515-979-9538 or email 


More info at: http//    


Photo by Todd Robertson
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Sep 29 Paddling Back in Time: First Encounters on Lower Des Moines River WT
DM History Alex Presenting
Archaeologist Lynn Alex


(Sorry, but this float is FULL - it filled very quickly.  To get on the waiting list, contact Pathfinders RC&D at 641-472-6177.)


Join archaeologist Lynn Alex to float the same stretch of the Des Moines River used by ancient Iowans. We'll travel near historic "Iowaville," one of the most significant archaeological sites in the Midwest. Lynn will help us discover the story of the people who lived there. The trip is about 5 miles and we will stop a few times along the way. The event is free, but pre-registration is required and numbers are limited.  


Date: Sunday, September 29, 2013

Time: 1:30 PM - 5:00 PM (be at launch ready to go by 1:00 PM, see shuttle times in registration packet)

Where: Eldon Boat Access (#75) to Shidepoke Boat Access (#71), Selma 

Who: All ages and levels of paddling experience (kids ages 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult)

Fee: FREE, thanks to funding from the Iowa DNR Rivers Program

Boats Available: A limited number of canoes & kayaks are available if you don't have your own boat; You will be able to reserve one (or more) during the registration process

Registration: Online registration coming soon or call Pathfinders RC&D at 641-472-6177 (ask for Julie or Detra).

Registration deadline: registration closes Sep 25 at NOON and participation is limited to 20 boats so sign up soon!  After you register, remember to download the information packet.


This official water trail event is co-sponsored by Pathfinders RC&D and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Rivers Program.


Photo by Gregg Stark 

Oct 6 Iowa River Greenbelt Geology Cruise, Iowa Falls
Empress Boat Club Logo

"Scenic City Empress" docked at

Empress Boat Club in Iowa Falls.


Join us on Sunday, October 6 for a 90 minute cruise aboard the "Scenic City Empress" to learn about the Iowa River valley.  Geologists Deb Quade and Robert McKay, from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, will conduct a presentation on the origin and evolution of the Iowa River Greenbelt, as well as the surrounding upland landscape.  (See below for more info about our presenters.) 


Discussions will focus on the geologic history and age of our river valley, and the unique & beautiful rock formations along the Iowa River in Iowa Falls, IA.   Participants will gain a better understanding and appreciation concerning the function and importance of the Iowa River Greenbelt area. 


Please feel free to bring snacks and a beverage of choice on the cruise.  Small coolers are OK.


This event is sponsored by the Empress Boat Club and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.


This event is free, but registration is required.  Participation is limited to 45 people.


ONLINE REGISTRATION will be open until the 45 participant limit is reached, or Wednesday, October 2nd. After that date, please contact Mary Hyland at 641-373-6302


Click on the link below to register: 


Geology Cruise 131006 


ONLINE REGISTRATION will be open until the 45 participant limit is reached or Wednesday, October 2nd.  After that date, please contact Mary Hyland at 641-373-6302.  Absolute cutoff is Noon on Friday, October 4.




Deb Quade is a senior Quaternary geologist and Supervisor of the Geology and Groundwater Section at the Iowa Geological and Water Survey.  She has logged nearly 30 years of mapping surficial deposits across Iowa and has undertaken many floodplain mapping projects in north-central Iowa.  Deb is an Iowa native and quite familiar with the geology and soils of Iowa river valleys. 


Robert McKay is a bedrock geologist with 30 years experience in Iowa Geology at the Iowa Geological and Water Survey.  He has familiarity with most of the bedrock formations across the state and has participated with several county conservation boards on local river trips.


Find more information about The Scenic City Empress Boat Club at:

Find more information about the Iowa River Greenbelt Water Trail at:,%20Hamilton%20Co.pdf?amp;tabid=868 


Oct 6 Annual Jones County Fall Colors Canoe Outing
Jones Co Maq Float 2012
Jones County Conservation Naturalist Michele Olson announced that the annual Fall Colors Canoe Outing has been set for Sunday, October 6, with other details to be finalized shortly.  

Watch for more info in the IWTA Mid-Month Reminders and Updates email. 

This photo by Michele Olson was taken during the "Cool, Clear, & Colorful" Jones County Fall Colors Float in 2012.

Oct 11 Iowa Environmental Council Annual Conference, "At the Tipping Point"
IEC Logo


The Iowa Environmental Council will explore new ways to build momentum for clean water, clean energy, and a healthy environment during its annual conference "At the Tipping Point," to be held October 11, 2012, starting at 8:30 at Drake University's Olmsted Center in Des Moines.  National freshwater restoration expert Joe Whitworth leads a day of speakers and networking focused on making measurable progress for clean water in Iowa as well as building on the state's national leadership in wind energy by expanding use of solar energy.


A native Midwesterner, Whitworth is president of The Freshwater Trust, a Portland, Oregon based organization that is working to redefine the way we think about protecting water and soil to achieve greater results, faster.  The organization has developed strategies for water quality credit trading programs as well as an innovative, patented online platform to manage the funding, permitting, and implementation of restoration projects.


The Council's conference is known for bringing together a unique cross section of Iowa's environmental community for a great networking experience.  Many Iowa Environmental Council member organizations and others share ideas about other ways Iowans are making progress.  Discounted registration is available to Council members and students, and everyone can save with early bird registration that continues through Labor Day.


For more info, visit or call 515-244-1194, extension 210.


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"Keep It Clean--Keep It Fun For Everyone" Campaign
Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR
"Keep it Clean, Keep it Fun for Everyone" is a new Iowa DNR campaign to improve the behavior on Iowa rivers.

The campaign is a response to recent discussions with landowners and recreational paddlers. "Rude behavior, foul language and loud music were noted by landowners on several occasions as something that needed attention," River Programs Director Nate Hoogeveen said.

"These problems didn't develop overnight and won't go away overnight," said DNR Director Chuck Gipp. "We need support locally to report problems and hold individuals accountable for their behavior."

The DNR is working to target law enforcement presence on the river as a way to reduce some of the illegal activity. The liveries will also include materials in their rentals to help paddlers report illegal activities they witness. 
Littering is another significant problem on some rivers, especially at access points, and the DNR will be distributing green mesh bags that people can take with them and pick up litter as they go. 


Businesses and public agencies who want to support this campaign can request posters and decals from Iowa DNR by calling Todd Robertson at (515) 979-9538 or sending a request to

Report on Aug 19-22 Mussel Blitz on Wapsipinicon River
Higgins Mussel Wapsi 2013 Scott Gritters
Endangered Higgins eye pearlymussel found on Wapsipinicon River in Linn County.
Photo by Scott Gritters.

Thanks to David Kesler for this report on the 2013 Mussel Blitz:


This year's Mussel Blitz was held August 19-22 on the Wapsipinicon River between Central City and Waubeek.  The "base of operations" was at Wakpicada Park, just south of Central City, where there is a boat ramp and even camping. 


Scott Gritters of the Iowa DNR coordinated people from the Iowa DNR, Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Linn County Conservation Board, and a motley crew of volunteers from the region in an effort he described as, "herding cats."  The objective of the Mussel Blitz was to quantitatively sample the mussel fauna (using quadrat sampling and timed searches), looking especially for the Higgins eye pearlymussel (Lampsilis higginsii), a federally endangered species. 


In 2002 the Wapsipinicon River was one of 10 sites chosen for introduction of Higgins-eye mussels.  Besides being part of this mussel's native distribution, the "Wapsi" was free of zebra mussels, whose devastating effects were being seen in the Mississippi River.  (Note: If your equipment has been in the Mississippi or other area with zebra mussels, you must completely decontaminate your things with bleach!)  Between 2002 and 2008 juvenile Higgins eye larvae were stocked in the "Wapsi" from host fish releases.


So what did this year's Mussel Blitz find on the Wapsi and how are the Higgins eye mussels doing?  Gritters and his crew found almost 2000 mussels from 11 species. Of these, there were 14 Higgins eyes!  More importantly, the finding of three very young Higgins eyes (albeit freshly dead) shows reproduction by this endangered species in the Wapsi.  It looks like, after a decade from its inception, the program to save the Higgins eye pearlymussel from extinction may be working. 


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WhereIsItWhere Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Turkey River LSearles
"The Verdant Turkey River" photo by Leland Searles.

Leland Searles shared this photo, titled "The Verdant Turkey River."


Starting north and west of Elkader, the Turkey flows southeast to the Mississippi through geologically and historically interesting areas.


Downstream from Elkader is the Motor Mill, constructed from local limestones that lie near the surface. 


The river flows through the "driftless" area of Iowa, meaning that there is little to no glacial deposit on the bedrock here. The soils that formed came from a mix of river-deposited sands and silts, the slow weathering of the bedrock, and windborne loess. The Turkey flows through a narrow valley with some cropland on its narrow terraces, woods on the bluffs, and fossil-bearing limestone outcrops. 


There are plans to develop stretches of the river for recreational activities, in part to boost the area's economy and in part to preserve the unique natural history along its length. Canoeing and kayaking currently take place on a river that has some mildly exciting riffles and opportunities to view birds and other wildlife.   


Leland M. Searles, Consultant and Photographer, Leeward Solutions LLC, offers services including Wetlands Delineation (USACE Certified), Native & Invasive Plant Evaluation, Photography (Commissions, Freelance), Ecosystem Management, Air Quality Policy & Regulation.

Find info about the Turkey River WT at 


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WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Hibiscus on Mississippi 2 Kip Hoffman
Beautiful hibiscus bloom found on a sandbar on the Mississippi River
near Dubuque.  Photos by Kip Hoffman.

Kip Hoffman found and photographed these beautiful flowers on a sandbar on the Mississippi River near Dubuque.  Dave Hillman pursued identification through Jim Pease, who secured this confirmation by Deb Lewis at the ISU herbarium: "It's Hibiscus laevis, which I learned as H. militaris -- a striking name to go with the common name of halberdleaf rosemallow.


The leaves of the similar flower H. moscheutos are seldom lobed, and if they are, the lobes are short."



Read more about Rose Mallow at: 


We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Logo Wear It

Our thanks to everyone who is providing the event information, updates, and feedback which supports the IWTA Newsletter, along with the water trail movement in Iowa.
Special thanks to Leland Searles and Kip Hoffman for the photos in our Where? and What? quizzes. 
Thanks also to David Kesler for the Mussel Blitz report, Todd Robertson for keeping us in the loop on the IDNR River Programs, and to all the project managers and naturalists who provide information on their events and activities.
The IWTA mission is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas, and encouragement among Iowans working to create, enhance, or utilize our water trails.  We measure the success of the IWTA Newsletter by how much our subscribers share about their efforts to improve the water trail experience across Iowa.
Thank you for your ongoing support and encouragement.

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