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Iowa Water Trails Association 
February, 2014  
Several Short Items "In the Eddy"
Thousands of Eagles, Many Viewing Events
2014 IDNR Outfitter Training Sessions Filling
May-Sep IDNR Canoe & Kayak School Sessions
"Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun" Campaign Expands Statewide
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR
Warm weather at Pictured Rocks Access
on the Maquoketa River is currently just a dream.  
GStark Photo.


The IWTA Mid-Month Reminders email has been on hiatus for Nov-Dec-Jan, but WT-related activity is already picking up, so "we're back!"


There won't be much floating or paddling activity on our WTs for a couple more months, but planning is in full swing for more events to meet an even greater variety of interests on WTs in 2014.


While we await warmer weather, WT supporters can follow what the Iowa Legislature is discussing and funding.  Water quality will be the emphasis of a couple of upcoming conferences. And photographers can develop their skills in anticipation of spring "greening" and migrating birds.


We look forward to visiting with you at the IWTA display during the March 22 inaugural "Northeast Iowa Paddlefest" in Cedar Falls.  


Special thanks to the folks we visited with during the Feb 7-9 "Iowa Paddle and Pedal Expo" in Indianola, and to Jeff and Casey for hosting this annual gathering.  The presentations were entertaining, educational, and several related to our WTs.


We're told that Goldilocks, the princess of Iowa rivers, has just completed refinishing her native ash paddle, and is gazing out the window, wondering whether spring water levels will be "too high, too low, or just right."   We suspect that the correct answer might be d) All the above.


In the Eddy:  (Short but important items that collect in the editor's inbox.)


Interesting Info Submitted to Appropriations Subcommittee for IDNR & IDALS Budgets

Interesting reading can be found among the documents submitted to the Appropriations Subcommittee dealing with budgets for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Department of Agriculture & Land Stewardship.  Groundwater monitoring, derelict buildings, a new state park, air quality, water quality, emerald ash borer, marine fuel tax, REAP, floodplain management, salmonella, aerial image soil survey, stream stabilization, state parks, etc.  It provides a sense of the broad range of issues related to natural resources and agriculture in Iowa.  


New (Free) Iowa Clean Water Newsletter is a Joint Effort

"Clean Water Starts With Us" is a new quarterly email newsletter about improving watersheds & water quality, published by IDNR, IDALS, & USDA.  Read the current issue & subscribe: 


Feb 3-21 & Mar 3-28 River of Words Exhibit on Tour

River of Words® conducts an annual international environmental poetry and art competition for youth aged 5 to 19 in grades K-12, designed to help young people explore the natural environment and cultural history of the place they live and to express what they discover through poetry and art. Iowa entries not chosen as finalists or grand-prize winners in the international contest are returned to the Iowa DNR, where they are judged in a statewide competition. The current traveling exhibit includes 35 works of poetry and art by talented Iowa students.

Visit the exhibit from Feb 3-21 at the Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids, or from Mar 3-28 at the Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center in Sioux City.  Find more info about the Iowa competition and award recipients on the DNR website: 


Mar 3-4 IOWATER Conference in Ames

The Iowa Water Conference is an annual gathering of water professionals, researchers, educators and students from across Iowa and surrounding states. The theme for the 8th annual Iowa Water Conference is "Making Connections - Solving Problems: Water strategies for success in a changing world." The conference will be held at the Scheman Building in Ames.

Attendees can attend sessions in stormwater & floodplain management and the intersection of agriculture & the environment, with each track incorporating technical presentations, education and outreach information and problem-solving workshops. The conference will also offer sessions for poster and oral presentations from water professionals, as well as a poster competition for students.  For more information, visit:  


Mar 8 Free Photography Workshop in Quad Cities

River Action and the Figge Art Museum are co-sponsoring "Beyond a Snapshot: the Art of Building and Creating Fine Photographs," a 12:45-4:30 pm workshop for photographers of all skill levels who are interested in exploring ways to improve the quality of their photos. Organizer Brian Tugano has assembled several presenters to explore the concept that quality photographs combine light, composition, and an interesting story. The workshop is free, but reservations are required due to limited seating.  Email:  or call River Action at 563-322-2969.


Mar 11-12 LID Conference in Dubuque

The LID Conference is titled "Protecting Our Water Resources Today & Into the Future Through Watershed Planning," and is hosted by several partners in the Dubuque area.  Learn more about watershed planning, hear updates on several area watershed projects, and get the latest information on infiltration-based urban practices.

For more information, please see the program flyer: 


Mar 22 Inaugural Northeast Iowa Paddlefest in Cedar Falls

This new event will be held at River Hills School, 2700 Grand Blvd, Cedar Falls, and will feature keynote speaker Ben Hoksch, discussing his solo trip paddling the length of the Mississippi River. Concurrent sessions will include rollover clinics in the heated pool, planning a wilderness paddle trip on a budget, wilderness philosophy, Black Hawk Creek Paddlers Trail update, stand-up paddle-boarding, and more. Adults $10; Children $2. Info at: 


Apr 12 Linn Area Photo Club Outdoor Photography Seminar in Cedar Rapids

All-day Canon Explorers of Light Seminar will feature award-winning outdoor photographer Rick Sammon.  Sammon will share his people, wildlife, landscape and travel pictures from around the globe - illustrating the difference between taking pictures and making pictures.  For every image, he will share a photographic technique, digital darkroom tip, or a photo philosophy. Learn more about Rick Sammon's photography at  The seminar is free, but seating is limited and advance registration is highly-recommended.  Be aware that you need to register separately for the seminar and for the convenient lunch at   


Apr 24-Jun 19 Master River Stewards Program Coming to Johnson County

Iowa Rivers Revival will bring its highly-acclaimed Master River Stewards Program (MRSP) to the Iowa River watershed this spring, with classes beginning April 24, and a recruitment deadline April 15.  Contact Rosalyn Lehman, executive director,   515.724.4093

The IRR Master River Stewards Program is an eight week course that focused on developing skills to paddle and navigate rivers, restoring aquatic habitat, improving water quality, and understanding policies related to floodplains, river protection and restoration.  The program builds on a network of river experts in various partner agencies and organizations, helping adult learners collaborate to protect and improve Iowa's rivers, so that current and future generations can enjoy these resources. 

Participants will pay a fee of $50 which will include program materials.  Participants will be expected to attend each session and there will be "homework" assignments following each class - materials will be provided.  Classes will include indoor and outdoor segments at Johnson County's Kent Park and Clear Creek.  Full details on the program and schedule will be posted on the IRR website:


Thousands of Bald Eagles Wintering in Iowa Create Viewing Events


IDNR News Release: Iowa's midwinter bald eagle surveys indicate high numbers of eagles in areas of open water where gizzard shad are plentiful, but the Mississippi River has the greatest concentration. The Mississippi from Fort Madison to Keokuk reported as many as 2,300 eagles. During Keokuk's Annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days, upwards of 900 eagles were in the area, many perched on the giant cottonwoods and oaks along the bluffs. Bald eagles will provide spectacular eagle viewing until the spring thaw; watch events are scheduled into mid-March.


Mississippi River Visitor Center, Arsenal Island, Rock Island, Ill.

Saturdays and Sundays, through Feb. 15, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Combination Eagle Watch and Historic Clock Tower Tours

Reservations are recommended as group size is limited.

For more information contact Visitor's Center Staff at 309-794-5338


Grays Lake Des Moines Bald Eagle Watch

Feb. 14-15

Des Moines Parks and Rec will be hosting a Valentine's Day Bald Eagle Watch at the eagle nest at Grays Lake on Fleur Drive in Des Moines on Feb. 14, and viewing with indoor live eagle at 6th St. on Feb. 15.

Outdoor viewing and replica nest 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Grays Lake, Friday

Outdoor viewing, replica nest, live eagle indoors 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. 6th bridge, Saturday

For more information call 515-283-4294


Effigy Mounds Bald Eagle Watch

Feb. 22

Outdoor viewing at Prairie du Chien Visitor's Center on the River

For more information call 563-873-3491     


Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch

Feb. 23, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Outdoor viewing at selected sites around reservoir, start at Visitor's Center

For more information call 515-276-4656


O'Brien County Bald Eagle Watch

March 1, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Prairie Heritage Center, 4931 Yellow Ave., Peterson

There will be spotting scopes and binoculars available.

Ty Smedes will be presenting his book "The Return of Iowa's Bald Eagle" at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

For more information call Charlene Elyea 712-295-7200


Sioux Rapids Bald Eagle Watch

March 22

American Legion Building, 200 Main Street, Sioux Rapids

Registration from 8:30 to 10 a.m.

Speakers from 10 a.m. to Noon, morning refreshments, free will offering lunch at 12:15 p.m.

Outdoor viewing at selected sites.

For more information call: 712-296-4920 or 712-295-7200


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Mar 25 Iowa DNR Outfitter Free Training Session Is Filling
Iowa DNR Logo


Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator, informs us that the response to the free Livery (Outfitter) Training Classes for 2014 has been excellent.  These one-day classes are 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. 

Outfitters are encouraged to sign up for the remaining class to be held on Tuesday
, March 25th, 2014 at the Osborne Nature Center 

near Strawberry Point and Elkader.


By attending training, the business will receive special recognition on the DNR website and in the Livery directory, as a preferred outfitter who focuses on safety and river and paddler etiquette.  

To get more info or register for a class, contact Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson: or 515-979-9538.


May-Sep Five Iowa DNR Canoe & Kayak School Sessions Open for Registrations
Canoe School on Boone River
Two students developing skills during a Canoe School  
on the Boone River.  Photo by Todd Robertson.


Naturalists, youth group leaders and others who bring people out on the water in canoes or kayaks that want to learn how to teach others about paddling efficiently and safely are encouraged to attend one of the Iowa DNR's paddling schools scheduled May through September.


Each two-day course will cover skills, hazard and river feature identification, teaching to different learning styles, and risk management. The focus will be one-third classroom and two-thirds on-water in both lake and river environments, solo and tandem. Paddling schools are set up for either canoeing or kayaking instruction. Make sure you sign up for your preferred instruction.  All courses will be taught at Briggs Woods, along the Boone River in Hamilton County.


Each paddling school is limited to 10 students, and is taught by two American Canoe Association certified canoe instructors--Glenn Harmon, Todd Robertson, John Wenck or Nate Hoogeveen. Students have the options to camp, rent a cabin, or stay in Webster City at a motel while participating in the two-day school. Overnight accommodations are not included in the class fee.  Registration is required and the fee is $25. This is not considered a novice course; students should have previous paddling experience.


The schedule for the Iowa DNR's Canoe & Kayak School:

  • May 6, Flat-Water Essentials (lake only) Special One Day Class for Naturalists, Scout Leaders, & Youth Group Instructors
  • May 20-21, Canoe School
  • June 25-26, Canoe School
  • Aug. 20-21, Kayak School -- FILLED!
  • Sept. 17-18 Canoe School

The DNR's Paddling Schools fill up fast, so get your registration in quickly.  Access a pdf info sheet at

To register or get more information, contact Todd Robertson, DNR River Programs, 515-979-9538 or email


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Iowa DNR "Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun" Campaign Expands Statewide


Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR
These new decals can carry a positive message
on your boat or your bumper.

An Iowa DNR public relations campaign to improve behavior on Iowa's rivers, called "Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun," was initiated on a limited scale late last year, and is being expanded statewide for 2014.  "We want people to have fun on the river, but not at the expense of others," says Nate Hoogeveen, director of DNR's river programs. River users need to respect the water resource, the private property rights of landowners living along the river, including sandbars and riverbanks, as well as others recreating on our rivers." Hoogeveen emphasizes.


The message is simple: 

Keep It Clean. Pick up trash as you go and pack out the trash you bring in.

Keep It Fun. Use respectful language and behavior.

For Everyone! Respect private property.


Campaign posters and decals will be available at many boat rental outfitters and retailers, and at IDNR exhibits during outdoor shows.  The logo and message will also appear on the popular mesh trash bags in early spring.  Store owners, conservation boards and other businesses that would like to help display and distribute "Keep It Clean" promotion materials may contact Todd Robertson, Outreach Coordinator for DNR River Programs, at 515-979-9538 or


We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Once upon a time, riverboats had to coordinate their runs
with spring high-water levels.
Photo by operators of Riverboat "Twilight" out of LeClaire.
Our thanks to the many new subscribers we have gained during the "snowy season."  We look forward to bringing you information about the many WT activities events to enjoy as the weather warms.
The mission of the IWTA is to facilitate the exchange of information, ideas and encouragement among Iowans working to create, enhance, or utilize our water trails.  The success of the IWTA Newsletter will be measured by how much we share, how much we learn from you, and how much we contribute to improving the Water Trails experience across the state.


We hope that you will continue to share your events, reports, ideas, and suggestions with us at  Thank you for your continuing support and encouragement.


If you are not already a subscriber to this free, monthly email newsletter, please click on the convenient "Join Our Mailing List" button to get on board.  


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Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter