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Iowa Water Trails Association 
November, 2013  
Dec 1 Extended Deadline for IRR River Town of the Year Nominations
Dec 3 OWLS Presentation re Fresh Water Mussels, Polk CCB
WT Special Events Big Success in 2013; Looking to 2014
New Online Iowa Paddling Forum
ACA Midwest Trainers Impressed by Charles City
2014 IDNR Livery Training Dates
2014 Iowa Paddling Show Dates
Longing to be "Up A Lazy River?" WT Reflections & Resources
Where Is It? Quiz Answer
What Is It? Quiz Answer
Use "Quick Links" to Find Useful Archived Items
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

Report Kills & Spills Logo  

Mother Nature's pallet will transition to black and white soon enough.  Let's enjoy the evolving colors of fall as long as possible.
This issue reflects our transition to fewer outdoor WT events, more indoor activities and planning for 2014.
With your help, the IWTA Newsletter has grown to over 930 subscribers.  Wouldn't it be great to have 1,000 WT organizers, supporters, and users as IWTA subscribers by the start of 2014?  Please share IWTA with your friends and point out the buttons at left for "Forward this email" and "Join Our Mailing List."

Every season presents opportunities to promote your WT. Whether it's publicizing upcoming recreation or education events, recognizing volunteers, summarizing a successful season, announcing plans, forwarding a photograph, or providing safety reminders to WT users, you have something of interest to share via your local media. Why not include a goal of one item per month in your strategic plan for 2014? 
Where Is It? Quiz
Iowa River Hwy 20 Tight Dave HillmanWhere Is It?

Make your best guess, then click on:

What Is It? Quiz
Ash Tree Seeds Pleasant Creek

What Is It?

Make your best guess, then click on: 

Dec 1 Extended Deadline for IRR River Town of the Year Nominations
IRR Logo


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.

The deadline for submitting applications has been extended to December 1, 2013.   The award will be presented in January 2014 at a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival in the River Town of the Year community.

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

The River Town of the Year award recognizes a city's outstanding work to enhance connections to its river.  For example, Dubuque was honored for making the Mississippi the heart of a remarkable cultural, environmental, and economic renaissance over the last two decades.  Central City used the Flood of 1999 as a crucial turning point and now features recreation, tourism and economic development related to the Wapsipinicon River.  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. 

Other activities could 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).

For more information, please go to the web site --, or contact: 
Jenn Dreier, IRR Administrative Coordinator:, 515-724-4093.


Dec 3 OWLS Fresh Water Mussels Presentation, Polk CCB, Jester Park Lodge
Mussel Pile
Photo of mussels courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife.
Photo by Mike Coffey.

Polk CCB OWLS (Older, Wiser, Livelier, Seniors) program event for November.


Looking for an excuse to get out of the house, make some new friends, enjoy a good meal, and learn about the exciting world of nature? Then join us! These programs are held the first Tuesday of each month.


The nature program will start at 11:00 a.m. at the Jester Park Lodge. An optional luncheon will follow the program at noon.  Pre-registration is required for the $9.00 catered lunch, and registration is due the Friday before the program. To register for lunch, click here.

Freshwater mussels can be found in many rivers and streams in Iowa. They are valuable components of freshwater biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, and help keep the water clean by acting as Mother Nature's water filters. For something that looks like a living rock, they have a unique life cycle and interesting adaptations to the environment in which they live. Come learn more with malacologist Jennifer Kurth!


For more info, map, and driving directions: 


Special WT Education Events Initiative a Big Success in 2013
DM History Event Organizers
Julie Ohde with Pathfinders RC&D Director Detra Dettman & IDNR WT Coordinator John Wenck, 
dealing with a flood of registrations 
at Nov 2012 archaeology event.  
Note the smiles.

During 2013, the Iowa DNR Water Trail Program initiated free educational presentations to support and expand public awareness and understanding of our state's water trails.  


The events were conducted by local Water Trail coordinators and planners from Resource Conservation & Development groups (RC&Ds), Councils of Government (COGs), County Conservation Boards (CCBs), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Subject expertise and presenters were drawn from cosponsors, such as various Iowa DNR departments, the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA), CCB naturalists, and private individuals.


Iowa DNR WT Coordinator John Wenck explained that, "The events developed out of a need to engage local communities in the projects, but have a direct benefit of inspiring interest and appreciation for the resource.  These education WT events have been quite popular." 


Examples of the many expert presenters made available were Jim Pease (River Critters & Wildlife); Jennifer Kurth (Mussels of Our Iowa Rivers); Lynn Alex, Cindy Peterson and Cherie Haury-Artz (Archaeological History & Prehistory Along Our Rivers); and Deb Quade and Robert McKay (Origin & Evolution Of Iowa Geology). Additional experts helped address topics such as fish surveys, bird identification, and wildlife of the night.


The concept was tested in November 2012, with an archaeology presentation at Lacey Keosauqua State Park.  "Interpreting History Along the Lower Des Moines River" was an indoor event, cosponsored by Pathfinders RC&D, the OSA, and the IDNR, which drew a surprising 80 participants to learn about prehistory and history along the developing Lower Des Moines River Water Trail.


During 2013, over 22 such WT events have been hosted, some with multiple elements of indoor presentations, hikes, and on-water floats.  Among the many local innovations were including the events with WT organizing initiatives, community celebrations, and a riverboat cruise. Indoor events will continue through the winter.


Julie Ohde, Water Trails Coordinator with Pathfinders RC&D, helped organize ten events in SE Iowa, utilizing expert presenters from the IDNR, OSA, private contractors, and CCB staff. Julie worked with organizers of the Lower Des Moines River WT, the Iowa River WT in both Johnson and Louisa Counties, and the Odessa WT in Louisa County to organize events which helped the public learn about local prehistory, pioneer history, wildlife, mussels, river critters, geology, and our water resources.


Julie found that "people really want these WT programs with an educational component.  And, it's important to include both off-water and on-water events.  We have gained many WT supporters who do not, or cannot, paddle.  For 2014, we will be looking to schedule more events in a broader range of interests."   


Golden Hills RC&D WT Project Manager Emily Haase hosted two special events on the West Nishnabotna River WT during the 2013 paddling season. "We brought in professionals to speak on freshwater mussels and wildlife in and along the West Nishnabotna. Our 'Cruisin' for Critters' event, with Dr. Pease, had a full 20 boats and 37 paddlers, including many children. The weather was perfect and the event was a huge success. I have received many requests for future events and many compliments on those we held."


A Pottawattamie County Conservation Board member told Emily, "This is an exciting time for river lovers! The experience is one that will stick with you forever! It's local and it's pretty much free entertainment. It doesn't get much better than that!"


Jim Pease on Iowa River WT
Jim Pease sharing info and enthusiasm
on the Iowa River WT in Aug 2013.

During 2013, Jim Pease shared his expertise and experience with "River Critters and Wildlife" in a variety of WT venues, including indoors, hiking, and paddling.  Jim observed that, "Every paddle was filled to capacity-though capacity varied with the area in which it was held. People enjoyed them, especially family groups. I especially liked the events in which I was able to do an inside talk first (an illustrated PowerPoint on Iowa river critters) and then do a paddle."


Jim also noted, "Paddling abilities varied widely, from experienced paddlers to raw beginners.  I would suggest perhaps we hold two different sessions, one for beginners and one for more experienced paddlers.  This would allow us to first concentrate on some basic paddling for the beginning paddlers, and then on the critters found en route.  While mixing the groups was fine, sometimes the slower pace might frustrate experienced paddlers and a too-fast pace can frustrate the new paddlers."


Echoing the sentiments of other presenters, Jim said, "I'd very much like to continue to offer these events.  I came to love paddling and seeing critters on a paddle when I was growing up on the Mississippi and all the tributaries that empty into the Mississippi in southeastern Iowa.  It was just me and my brothers, so we often came upon animals in their natural riparian environment.  When leading a group of 10-20 watercraft and their paddlers, we can't expect the experience to be the same as if you were paddling alone in one canoe or kayak.  Still, the CHANCE is always there, and that seems to be what motivates folks to come on these jaunts.  I thoroughly enjoyed taking them and hope to do more on more Iowa rivers in 2014."


The future looks promising for both presenters and participants. John Wenck, Water Trails Coordinator with the Iowa DNR, indicated that, "These education WT events have been quite popular. For 2014, we would like to encourage more events by increasing the options on the 'menu' of presentations and expanding our network of cosponsors such as the OSA."


For more info on the Iowa DNR WT Special Events, contact John Wenck,


New Iowa Paddling Forum Has Been Launched--You're Invited To Join


Hannah Childs, a paddling enthusiast from eastern Iowa, has taken
thinitiative to create a new online Iowa Paddling Forum. 


Launched quietly in mid-October, the online Iowa Paddling Forum already has 20 members, 21 topic posts, and lots of visitors. You can check out the forum and join in the fun at:


Hannah explained that, "The purpose of this forum is to provide a central networking place for Iowa paddlers, and any other paddlers, to discuss paddling-related activities.  Concerns of this forum would be to surmount the workload to keep the site up and running.  I'm asking users of this forum to be patient and to remember this is a free forum which has certain limitations."


Speculation over the future of the dormant website ended in September, when creator Nate Hoogeveen confirmed, "It pains me to say it, but I need to call it officially dead. It was a good run." 


The PaddlingIowa website, and particularly its forums, served as a central exchange for information and opinions about events, trips, issues, initiatives, and "all things paddling" in Iowa.  It was a source of information and inspiration for individuals and groups as paddling participation, WW areas, and Water Trails expanded across the state.  Our thanks go out to Nate and the others whose time, skills, and effort kept the website alive for so many years. 


We salute Hannah's efforts, and encourage all Iowa paddlers to sign onto this new networking opportunity and participate (responsibly!) in the forums.  Thank you, Hannah, for beginning this new chapter in the story of paddling in Iowa.


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ACA Midwest River Canoeing Instructor Certification Workshop Leaders Impressed by Charles City WW Park and Hospitality
ACA Cert Charles City Shore
ACA  Trainers & Instructor Candidates Gather for Training at the Charles City WW Park in October.


(IWTA and all Iowa paddlers are proud of the facility and activities at Charles City, but it's nice to hear such positive comments from citizens of our neighboring states. --editor)


On behalf of myself, Jordan Messerer of University of Nebraska Lincoln and Barb Cutter of Cutter Aquatics, we wanted to thank the IWTA for all its efforts in Iowa!


October 18-21, 2013 we conducted an American Canoe Association Level 2 Essentials of River Canoeing Instructor Certification Workshop on the Cedar River in Charles City, Iowa.  While we knew in advance that the weather was going to be a gamble, the Cedar River & hospitality from the City of Charles City more than made up for the cold.  We could not have been more thrilled with the opportunity to train five student leaders from the University of Nebraska Lincoln Outdoor Adventures program utilizing this outstanding river.

Over the course of the 3 day workshop, the instructor candidates were immersed in the American Canoe Association curriculum focusing on instruction, education and safety. While demonstration paddling skills and instructional methodology are important aspects of the course so is understanding stewardship for our natural resources and local efforts to re-think how we look at our watersheds.  The students had the chance to meet Charles City Parks & Recreation Director Steve Lindaman and develop a "big picture" appreciation for the success of the waterfront in the community.  

As instructional paddlesports professionals, Jordan, Barb and I could not have found a better venue or a community more positive about their accomplishments with the Cedar River.  On all levels, we were impressed and want to extend our deep appreciation for the work that the IWTA does not only for folks in Iowa, but also those of us fortunate enough to travel to a State with such great paddling resources.

We have a gallery of photos on the ACA Midwest Division Facebook page that your subscribers are welcome to visit: 



Ivan Bartha, Coordinator, SCSU Outdoor Endeavors 

ACA Cert Charles City
ACA On-Water Instructor Training Exercises at Charles City.


Jordan Messerer, Assistant Director, UNL Outdoor Adventures 


Barb Cutter, Owner, Cutter Aquatics 



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2014 Iowa DNR Livery Training Event Dates Announced
Iowa DNR Logo


Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator, informs us that dates and locations have been finalized for two Livery Training Classes for 2014.  These are one-day classes, facilitated by Todd and Nate Hoogeveen, addressing risk management plans, litter control strategies, safety, creating relationships, and the new "Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun" campaign. By attending training, the business will receive special recognition on our website and in the Livery directory, as a preferred outfitter who focuses on safety and river and paddler etiquette. 

  • Class #1, Tue, Feb 11th, 2014 at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Longhouse in Polk County, NE of Des Moines.
  • Class #2, Tue, Mar 25th, 2014 at the Osborne Nature Center near Strawberry Point and Elkader.

Canoe School Classes for 2014 will be announced at a later date.  Contact Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson with any questions: or 515-979-9538.


More info on 2014 training opportunities will be posted on the DNR Website as it is finalized: 


2014 Iowa Paddling Show Dates Announced
Todd Robertson ICNC P Day 2012 GStark
Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Program Outreach Coordinator, answers paddling safety questions 
during 2012 ICNC Paddle Day.


Paddling Shows will be held across Iowa in early 2014. Some may provide opportunities to display info and promote your WT.  We will have more detailed info in coming issues of the IWTA Newsletter, but we wanted to share the current list of shows and dates.  Please let us know if you are aware of additional paddling shows planned in Iowa. Email   


Jan 25, "ICNC Paddle Day", Indian Creek Nature Center, Cedar Rapids.

Feb 7-9, "Iowa Paddle and Pedal Sport Expo", CanoeSports Outfitters, Indianola.

March 22, "North Iowa Paddlefest" (new for 2014), Cedar Falls/Waterloo.    


FYI to WT event planners:  

Canoecopia will be held in Madison, WI March 7-9.

Outdoor Adventure Expo will be held in Minneapolis, MN April 25-27.


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Water Trail Reflections & Resources -- Up A Lazy River
IWTA Logo edited jpg


"Up A Lazy River" evokes familiar images for anyone who frequents rivers and water trails. Those are images of warmer times of the year, we might add.


Written by Sidney Arodin and Hoagy Carmichael, and recorded by Carmichael in 1930, the song has been interpreted by dozens of jazz, pop, and country artists.  The list includes Louis Armstrong (1931), most of the "big bands," Bing Crosby, Bob Wills, The Mills Brothers (1952), Bobby Darin (1961 #14 hit), instrumentals by Chet Atkins and Pete Fountain, and more recent versions by Manhatten Transfer, Harry Connick, and Michael Buble.  It seems that everyone wanted to spend a little time "up a lazy river."


Various artists have put their own interpretations on the lyrics, but here is the familiar version sung by Louis Armstrong:


Up a lazy river by the old mill stream  
That lazy, hazy river where we both can dream  
Linger in the shade of an old oak tree  
Throw away your troubles, dream a dream with me 

Up a lazy river where the robin's song  
Wakes up in the mornin', as we roll along  
Blue skies up above ....everyone's in love  
Up a lazy river, how happy we will be, now  
Up a lazy river with me 

(instrumental break) 

Up a lazy river by the old mill run  
That lazy, lazy river in the noon day sun  
You can linger in the shade of that fine ole tree  
Throw, away your troubles, baby, dream with me 

Up a lazy river where the robin's song  
Wakes a brand new mornin' as we roll along  
There are blue skies up above...and as long as we're in love  
Up a lazy river, how happy we could be  
If you go up a lazy river with me  
Ah said with me now.....goin'up that... lazy river..... with me



While Hoagy is a favorite son of Bloomington, IN, he was mentored by a favorite son of the Quad Cities, jazz cornetist Bix Biederbeck.  Hoagy and his wife named their son "Hoagy Bix Carmichael."  For more on the fascinating life of composer, performer, and actor Hoagy Carmichael, visit:  or 



(Do you have thoughts, experiences, insights, or conclusions about Water Trails you would like to share?  Maybe you have read an interesting article about WTs you would like to recommend to others?  Please email us at )


WhereIsItWhere Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Iowa River Hwy 20 Wide Dave Hillman
Downstream (south) view of Iowa River from Highway 20.  Note the sediment pond which collects excess water from the west end of the bridge.

Dave Hillman shared these photos of the view from the Highway 20 bridge over the Iowa River near Steamboat Rock in Hardin County. It's a pretty, but fleeting, view as travelers navigate Highway 20 about a half hour west of Cedar Falls. 


What most drivers do not appreciate is the unique construction of the bridge itself.  Opened in 2003, the bridge is a distinctive feat of modern engineering, the first "launched steel I-girder highway bridge in the United States and one of the longest launched I-girder spans in the world.  The unique construction method was used to minimize impact on the environmentally sensitive area below the bridge.  It's a noteworthy example of using engineering technology to balance environmental protection and the economic benefits of extending a four-lane highway from Dubuque to Fort Dodge.


Check out the Iowa DOT Construction Photo Album including over 200 photos, multimedia, computer animation, and a time-lapse video of the bridge launch: 

Find more info about this unique construction method on the federal DOT site: 


Link to map of Iowa River WT in Hardin County:,%20Hamilton%20Co.pdf?amp;tabid=868 


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WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Ash Tree OA Pleasant Creek
Ash tree along the shore at Pleasant Creek SP.  Photos by G.Stark.

Ash is one of the most abundant native tree species in North America, and has been heavily planted as a landscape tree in yards and other urban areas. According to the USDA Forest Service, Iowa has an estimated 52 million rural ash trees and approximately 3.1 million more ash trees in urban areas. Those numbers will, unfortunately, be decreasing. 


In July of 2013, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was positively identified in a residential tree in the city of Burlington in Des Moines County, the second location where the invasive beetle has been found in Iowa. It initially had been found on Henderson Island in the Mississippi River in Allamakee County in 2010.

EAB kills all ash species by larval burrowing under the bark and eating the actively growing layers of the trees. EAB is now considered to be one of the most destructive forest pests ever seen in North America.

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship issued a quarantine for Des Moines County, banning the movement of hardwood firewood, ash logs and wood chips out of the area without a permit. Most EAB infestations in the United States have been started by people unknowingly moving infested firewood, nursery plants, or sawmill logs. The adult beetle can fly for relatively short distances, approximately 2 to 5 miles.   


Acknowledging that the spread of EAB is inevitable, many Iowa communities have initiated programs to begin replacing their ash trees with other species.  Proactive removal of living trees has brought a mixed reaction from the public.


Ash species include green, white, black, and blue, all being susceptible to EAB.  Green and white ash are relatively common in the Midwest.  EAB does not attack mountain ash.  Other woody plants may have "ash" in their name, but are not susceptible to EAB. 


To learn more about EAB and other pests that are threatening Iowa's tree population, please visit 


For help identifying an ash tree, visit 


IWTA "Quick Links" to Useful Archived Items


We want to encourage subscribers to explore the archived items under the "Quick Links" section in the top left column of each IWTA Newsletter.  



Do you need some WT event ideas or contact resources? 

Check out the archived IWTA Newsletters back to July 2012


Are you beginning WT program planning for 2014?  

You may find some useful suggestions in the WT Event Planning & Execution PDF.


Are you looking for local resources to assist with a photography-related WT activity?  

Click on Iowa Camera Clubs to find groups in your area.


Want to gain some perspective on the development of paddling in Iowa?  

Read about it in the "Paddling Iowa - A Chronology" PDF


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We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter

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.  Our special thanks to the following: 
  • Dave Hillman for the photos in this month's Where? quiz. 
  • Julie Ohde, Emily Haase, and Jim Pease for sharing their experience and insight for our article on 2013 WT Special Events.
  • 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.
Grow something.

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