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Iowa Water Trails Association 
December, 2013  
Happy Holidays!
Dec 3 OWLS Presentation re Fresh Water Mussels, Polk CCB
Dec 10 Iowa Leg Study Committe on River & Waterways Hearing
"Look Both Ways" Comments by IDNR WT Coordinator John Wenck
Manchester Meets WW Park Funding Goal
Unique WT Events & Program Approaches
"In the Eddy" Collected Odd Items to Benefit WTs
2014 WT Planning Dates
What & Where Is It? Quiz Answer
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

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Season's Greetings!, and a reminder that every season holds special interest and beauty along our Iowa Water Trails.  The absence of leaves opens a new world of rock outcrops, acrobatic squirrels, and the occasional splash of white fungus.  Bundle up and go take a look!
This issue combines a look at the successes of 2013 with info to help you plan for even more progress in 2014.
Please check out the comments by Iowa DNR Water Trails Coordinator John Wenck, along with collections of unique event ideas and a start on 2014 planning dates.
IWTA is off to a good start, but we will be working hard to serve you even better in 2014. Your opinions and ideas will be an important part of that effort, so watch for a quick survey in the coming weeks. The world does not need just another organization.  Only you can help us identify what you want, need, and will value.
With your help, the IWTA Newsletter has grown to 938 subscribers.  Please continue sharing IWTA with your friends and point out the buttons at left for "Forward this email" and "Join Our Mailing List."
Gregg Stark IR 2011
Happy Holidays!" 
from your IWTA staff.
What AND Where Is It? Quiz
Stone City Grant Wood Joslyn Art We have only one Quiz this month, but it combines What? and Where? with the opportunity to reflect on the role of WTs in Iowa.

Make your best guess, then click on:

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: 


Dec 10 Iowa Legislative Interim Study Committee on Rivers & Waterways Will Hold Hearing in Des Moines

The Iowa Legislative Interim Study Committee on Rivers and Waterways is seeking input on a River Restoration Program before the subcommittee meets at the capitol in Des Moines on Dec 10.  


The charge to the study committee is: "Consult with interested parties in considering options for restoring the quality of Iowa's rivers and waterways. Interested parties may include engineers, local watershed partnerships, persons who farm near rivers and waterways, anglers, boaters, and other interested parties. Develop recommendations for an initial plan to prioritize river and waterway projects and provide defined goals and measurable improvements."


There will be little or no time for open public testimony at this meeting, so concerned citizens are encouraged to submit written comments directly to the committee before the meeting: Go to the General Assembly's home page at, and under "Popular Links," look for "Public Input: Iowa Rivers and Waterways Study Committee."  Click "Submit Response" to submit comments.  To view others' responses, click "View Moderated Responses."


If you are planning to attend the Dec 10 meeting at the capitol, check here for updates on time and room number: 


Listening sessions are also being held around the state in advance of the meeting.  The Iowa River Friends group hosted a well-attended session in Iowa City on Nov 23. 


The Dubuque County League of Women Voters will moderate a forum for public input regarding Iowa's rivers and waterways Tuesday, Dec 3 from 6:30 to 7:30 at Swiss Valley Nature Center, 13606 Swiss Valley Road, Peosta, IA.  All ten members of the study committee have been invited.  State Rep. Chuck Isenhart (D-Dubuque) has committed to attend.  Other area committee members are co-chair Rep. Lee Hein (R-Monticello) and Rep. Patti Ruff (D-Monona).  For more info contact Eric Schmechel at or 563-876-3418 ext. 3


View the Study Committee purpose and members: 


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"Look Both Ways" Learning from 2013, Planning for 2014, with John Wenck
DM History Event Organizers
IDNR WT Coordinator John Wenck (r)
 with Julie Ohde (l) & Detra Dettman, 
organizers of several WT Educational Events 
in SE Iowa via the Pathfinders  RC&D. 


(As 2013 execution efforts transition to 2014 planning, we asked Iowa DNR Water Trails Coordinator John Wenck to share his thoughts with IWTA subscribers.)


Winter arrived early, but that doesn't mean work slows down in the small space the DNR Rivers staff occupies on the 5th floor of the Wallace building.  We certainly stay as busy during the cold months as we do the warm months--our focus may vary slightly, however. 


I think it's fair to say that our water trail events for 2013 were a huge success, and as a result we plan to continue this opportunity in 2014.  We appreciate IWTA's great work in keeping everyone well-informed, offering event registration, and for conducting post-event surveys. 


A total of 24 events attracted more than 700 participants across the state.  We know that other events occurred, but all 24 of these events were tracked and managed closely.  Some survey highlights noted that more than 97% of respondents were mostly or very satisfied with the events overall and 87% were very likely to recommend a similar event to a friend.   When given a choice of ten topics of interest for future events, survey respondents selected "History of Native Americans in the area" and "Riparian plant life (trees, shrubs, plants)" as their top choices.  Survey respondents also preferred weekend events opposed to weekday or weekday evening events.  Gregg noted that while he was "very proud of the paddler support for water trails," he was "encouraged that non-paddlers are also connecting with our water trails."   We would echo Gregg's sentiment, for we believe that the success of our projects depends upon the involvement of non-paddlers.  A goal for next year will be to offer more opportunities that target non-paddlers, which may translate to fewer on-water events.   I won't dwell on any challenges we encountered with the events, but as with anything new, we learned a lot that will result in improvements for next year.


Other successes for water trails include the completion of more than a dozen improvement projects, including portage trails around dams, access improvements, and signage installations.  Central Iowa Paddlers highlighted three of these projects in an article on their website.


2014 is now on the horizon and there is much to do.  We are currently working with eight regional coordinators within a dozen project corridors we are calling "water trail study areas"-see the 2014 water trails map.  Within those study areas we are conducting local meetings and gathering as much information as we can in order to make well-informed decisions.   We learned from our statewide planning effort that if we want to provide positive water trail experiences that meet user expectations and simultaneously strengthen natural resources conservation it's imperative we engage local communities and do our homework.  This will be the responsibility of each of the regional coordinators for 2014.  


An analysis and report of the findings will be the outcome, which will in turn lay the groundwork for what's to come.  In some cases we may learn that an area might not be ready to move forward with a project.   But whatever the situation, we will have listened and learned as much as possible if we have done our job well.  Exciting additions to our map for 2014 are the study areas that include the Little and Big Sioux river corridors.   Northwest

IDNR WT Coordinator John Wenck leads a
recent training session with WT Project Managers.

Iowa has been a blank slate until now.  We are excited to be working in these areas.


We appreciate the positive comments we hear from all of you and want to thank you for supporting water trails.  I understand we are nearing 1,000 subscribers to the IWTA newsletter, which we think is truly fantastic!  


Our water trails are offering multiple ways for local communities to engage in a variety of

 ways that just hadn't happened in the past.  


Thank you again for focusing on Iowa's rivers, streams, and lakes.  We are very grateful!


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Manchester Meets Funding Goal for WW Park on Maquoketa River


Developers of Manchester's WW Park project on the Maquoketa River undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when they learned that their funding goal had been realized.  A grand opening of the WW park is targeted for late spring of 2015.


Check out the details in the Cedar Rapids Gazette article: 


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Unique WT Events & Program Approaches 
Mussel Snacks Alden Library
Happy clams made for happy kids at 
the Alden Library Mussel program.  
Photo provided by Mary Hyland.


If you have organized, or participated in, a unique WT event or program, we encourage you to share your experience with other IWTA subscribers.  Just drop us a quick email at 


Here are a few examples we noted during 2013:

  • "Mother's Day on the Marsh" provided an opportunity for some quality birding time with Mom, paddling Lake Odessa on a day most planners would avoid.
  • "Pioneer Potteries of Bonaparte" combined the archaeological presentation with a tour of a present-day working pottery.
  • "River Critters and Wildlife" presentation in Waverly, including an optional paddle in a relatively urban area, was cosponsored by a city.
  • "Fish Assemblage" and "Freshwater Mussels," two educational shore-stations along the Cedar River WT in Cedar Falls/Waterloo, were incorporated into a "River of Dreams" charity fundraising event for paddlers.
  • "Burris City Story," a history presentation near the Odessa WT, was held at a site which also gave exposure to the Toolesboro Mounds and Museum.
  • "Geology Cruise Aboard the 'Scenic City Empress'" combined geological history, fall sightseeing, and an on-water experience with no paddling.
  • "River Critters of the Iowa River Greenbelt" combined an indoor presentation with an optional hike and an optional paddle-something for everyone.
  • "Freshwater Mussel" presentation, at Alden Library After School Program, introduced 30 curious youngsters in grades K-6 to the "living rocks" of the Iowa River.
  • Upcoming "Freshwater Mussel" presentation to Polk CCB "OWLS" group, which draws 50-150 seniors to a monthly, weekday presentation and luncheon.

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"In the Eddy" -- Odd Stuff Collected From Here and There To Benefit Our WTs

  Driftwood IR

new online Iowa Paddling Forum has been created by Hannah Childs, providing "a central networking place for Iowa paddlers, and any other paddlers, to discuss paddling-related activities." Check out the forum, join in the fun, and ensure that your WT event info reaches this audience: 


Consider promoting your WT at Paddling Shows scheduled across Iowa in early 2014. The shows often have space for exhibitors and actively solicit presenters.


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.


Consider astronomical event opportunities on your WT: 

  • Dec 2, New Moon.
  • Dec 13-14, Geminid Meteor Shower.
  • Dec 17, Full Moon.
  • Dec 21, Winter Solstice, first day of winter, shortest daylight of year.

'Tis the season to make friends with other outdoor special interest groups, discuss co-sponsored events, explore communication channels, identify resources, and recruit volunteers.

Are you searching for h
oliday gift ideas for WT supporters, young or old?

  • Gift certificates to your local paddling or outdoor shop are always welcome.
  • A gift subscription to Iowa Outdoors magazine lasts all year: 
  • University of Iowa Press publishes a wide range of Iowa-centric outdoor books, particularly under Bur Oak Books and Bur Oak Guides. You can score holiday savings on many items thru the end of the year by using promo code IAHOL13 (all caps) when you submit your order.  


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2014 WT Planning -- Dates to Embrace or Avoid


Here are some confirmed events and dates to help you with your 2014 WT planning.  We're still confirming many of the on-water events which begin in May, and will share those in our January issue. 


We welcome your WT event info and dates for all of 2014,


January 13; Iowa Legislative Session Opens; (per diem expenses end April 22).

January 25; Indian Creek Nature Center "7th Annual Paddle Day," Cedar Rapids, Noon-4:30 pm; featuring presentations by Dennis Weidemann, author of "This Water Goes North," Todd Robertson, "Intro to Stand Up Paddling," & Cherie Haury-Artz, "Archaeological Research along Iowa & Cedar Rivers." 

February 2; Groundhog Day.

February 2; NFL Super Bowl 48.

February 8; Nick's Pre-Expo Buffet Breakfast at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, 7:00 am, annual gathering of old and new paddling friends on the way to the Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo.

February 7-9; Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo at CanoeSport Outfitters, Indianola.  Exhibits, presentations, factory reps, paddling, biking, & camping gear; 

February 11; Iowa DNR Livery Training, Class #1, Tue, Feb 11th, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Longhouse in Polk County, NE of Des Moines.  Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson. or 515-979-9538.

February 14; Valentine's Day.

March 9; Daylight Savings Time Begins, set clocks ahead one hour.

March 17; St. Patrick's Day.

March 20; Vernal Equinox, First Day of Spring.

March 22; First North Iowa Paddlefest, Cedar Falls/Waterloo.  New event to include featured speaker, breakout sessions, in-pool paddling clinic.  Chris Anderson, Program Coordinator, Hartman Reserve Nature Center, 319-277-2187. 

March 25; Iowa DNR Livery Training; Class #2, Tue, Mar 25th, 2014 at the Osborne Nature Center near Strawberry Point and Elkader. Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson. or 515-979-9538.

April 22; Earth Day, annual observance of the first Earth Day in 1970. Some groups moving observance events up to April 19 to avoid Easter weekend.

April 25; Arbor Day, annually last Friday in April,   

April 22; Iowa Legislative Session Target Close; (per diem expenses end April 22).


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WhereIsItWhat and Where Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Stone City Grant Wood Joslyn Art
Grant Wood's idyllic vision of Stone City in the Wapsipinicon River valley.  
Several stretches of the Wapsi have been designated as WTs.  
While not painted by Grant Wood, many of our WTs contain similar points of historical interest.
For this issue, we combined the What? and Where? Quizzes with a bit of history, art and Iowa nostalgia.


It's a Grant Wood painting of Stone City, part of the permanent collection of the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, NE.  Created in 1930, it depicts the rolling hills above the Wapsipinicon River valley at the western edge of Jones County.  Structures like the church, bridge, and general store still stand.


The old Stone City General Store is now the General Store Pub, featuring food, beverages, live music, and outdoor seating overlooking the Wapsipinicon River.  It's a leisurely 5 mile float downstream from Matsell Park in Linn County to the Stone City Access. 


Grant Wood was born to Quaker parents on a small farm near Anamosa, Iowa. Wood trained at Chicago and Minneapolis art schools, spent time in Italy and Paris, but after 1928 he developed the style we see in Stone City and American Gothic. The style is thought to derive from his rural upbringing, and found acceptance by a Depression-era audience.

From the Joslyn Art Museum website:
"Stone City, Iowa was Wood's first major landscape, painted in the same year as his now famous American Gothic. At the height of his style, Stone City is also the epitome of the dialogue about change that was often threaded through Wood's traditional subjects. Understood in this tranquil, idealized scene of life in harmony with nature was the knowledge that Stone City itself reflected the transitions brought about in a rural community by industrialization. Located on the Wapsipinicon River twenty-six miles from Cedar Rapids, Stone City was a boomtown gone bust: built on the success of its limestone quarries and laid to rest by the development of Portland cement. The land, Wood seems to suggest, has gone back to a purer purpose of grazing animals and growing crops. Wood's interest in the village continued, and it became the site of a summer artist's colony which he ran from 1932 to 1933." 


Further info on Grant Wood and interpretation of this painting, along with the museum (free admission):


Grant Wood Self Portrait 1932
The Stone City Church, at the far left of the painting, also appears in this 1932 photo of Grant Wood and members of his art colony:    

Info about Stone City history, preservation, and tours:  


Stone City General Store Pub hours, menus, & special events: 


Anamosa invites you to visit its local shops, historical sites, excellent restaurants, and the motorcycle museum: 



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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 IDNR WT Coordinator John Wenck for sharing his thoughts on WT progress and planning in this issue.
As we move into 2014, we encourage you to keep IWTA "in the loop" regarding activity and development relating to your WT.  Whether it's planning, construction, special events, funding, milestones-reached, or something else, the odds are good that your info can be helpful or inspirational to many of our subscribers.  And, we're always looking for something interesting on your WT for the "Where Is It? Quiz." 
Toot Your Horn!
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