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Iowa Water Trails Association 
April, 2014  
Sign Up Now for Master River Stewards in Johnson County
Calendar of WT Events & Planning Dates "In the Eddy"
Spring Safety Reminders as Cold Water Greets Paddlers
May-Sep IDNR Canoe & Kayak School Sessions
New Blue Trash Bags to Help "Keep It Clean--Keep it Fun"
WT Organizers Embrace 2014 WT Education Program Options
New Sign Encourages Respect re Non Meandered Streams
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

Report Kills & Spills Logo  
Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR

IDNR Blue Trash Bag

DNR Non Meandered Stream Sign


Snow flurries occurred in part of Iowa today.  Like a bad head cold, It seems like we just can't shake winter.


Much of the state received a good shot of precipitation to encourage the greening of grass and opening of tree buds.  That moisture is also raising river levels.  We know that many of you are anxious to get out of your house and onto your water trails, but please keep safety in mind--be aware of current and expected water levels.


This Mid-Mo issue of the IWTA Newsletter includes programming announcements and dates for early season WT events.  Please note the slight changes in the Master River Steward classes, along with the current confirmed dates for the Charles City WW Challenge and the Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race. 


Please keep us "in the loop" as you firm up your WT plans for 2014. 


The Iowa Legislature is moving toward close with encouraging reports
re funding for rivers and water trails, but not-so-encouraging reports re water quality reporting.  Any legislative outcomes will still require
the governor's signature, but we hope to include a full report
in our May 1 issue.


Registrations Due Apr 15 
for Apr 24-Jun 19 Master River Stewards Program in Johnson County


Registrations are still open, as Iowa Rivers Revival brings its highly-acclaimed Master River Stewards Program (MRSP) to the Iowa River watershed.  Classes will begin on April 24, registrations are due April 15.  Contact Rosalyn Lehman, executive director,   515-724-4093.

MRSP participants learn to measure
water quality.  IRR photo.


The IRR Master River Stewards Program is an eight week course that 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.  Weekday classes run 5:30-9:30 pm; Saturday sessions run 10 am-4 pm.  Full details on the program and schedule are posted on the IRR website:


Class Schedule:

Introduction to MRSP                                        Thu, Apr 24

Stream Restoration                                           Thu, May 1

River Geomorphology                                        Thu, May 8

Navigating Iowa Rivers/River Restoration             Sat, May 10

Landforms, Geology and Watersheds                 Thu, May 22

Water Quality 1 and River Creatures                  Thu, May 29

Water Quality 2                                                Thu, Jun 5

Agricultural Policy                                             Thu, Jun 12

Review & Project Planning                                 Thu, Jun 19

Post training follow-up, project sharing, & eval     TBD


There are opportunities for organizations and groups to sponsor aspects of the program, such as general program support, participant registration costs (reducing the costs for individuals you recommend or others interested in participating), a meal for one of the evening programs, or program materials and supplies.  Funding for this program has been provided by Iowa DNR REAP, IOWATER and River Programs.


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In the Eddy:  Short But Important Items That Collect Around the Editor's Desk.



April 15; Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline for Iowans  (Iowa State Income Tax Filing Deadline is April 30).

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

April 22; Earth Day, annual observance of the first Earth Day in 1970.

April 25; Arbor Day, annual observance last Friday in April,    

April 26; Middle River WT Float, 8.7 miles Roseman Bridge Access to Pammel Ford.  Meet at Pammel Park Ford at Noon. Float followed by free hot dog roast, bring own beverages.  Free, but registration required, 515-462-3536 or email  

May 10; Middle River WT Float, 18 miles Middle River Forest Co Park (Adair Co) to Roseman Bridge Access.  Meet at Roseman at 9:00am for shuttle. Bring water & lunch. Free, but registration required, 515-462-3536.

May 11; Mothers Day.

May 11; "Mother's Day On the Marsh (MOM)," Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge, Odessa WT, near Wapello. Leisurely Sunday morning paddle with naturalists in Port Louisa National Wildlife Refuge.  Canoes and kayaks are available. Info at   or call 319-523-8381.

May 17; Armed Forces Day.

May 30; Memorial Day (observed May 26).

June 6-8; (RESCHEDULED DATES) Charles City Challenge: WhiteWater Weekend, on Cedar River.  Kayak & SUP competition, music, food, beverages, prizes; info at 

June 6-8; Iowa DNR Free Fishing Days, local fishing derbies for kids, organized around the state. .

June 7; 4th Annual Tree Town Adventure Race, Forest City on Winnebago River WT.  Paddling, cycling, running race with wide variety of individual and group classes.

Grab your camera!   Remember to report sightings of massasauga rattlesnakes.
Jeff LeClere phot  

June 7; Annual Middle River Cleanup, 9 miles Pammel Park Ford to Middle River County Park. Meet at 7:30 am, bring own lunch. Warm meal & concert provided after cleanup.  Free, but registration required, 515-462-3536.  

June 13; Iowa Trails Summit, Cedar Falls on UNI campus.  Presentations & displays relating to public trails for all forms of recreational use.  

June 14; (RESCHEDULED DATE) 4th Annual Great Iowa River Canoe & Kayak Race, Iowa City on Iowa River WT.  Iowa Valley RC&D;, registration & rules at 



(Iowa 2014 dates, all times Central Daylight Savings Time at Cedar Rapids.)

April 15, Tue                 Sunrise 6:26, Sunset 7:48, Moonrise 8:29

May 14, Wed                Sunrise 5:47, Sunset 8:19, Moonrise 8:24

June 12, Thu                Sunrise 5:31, Sunset 8:43, Moonrise 8:14

July 12, Sat                  Sunrise 5:42, Sunset 8:42, Moonrise 8:43

August 10, Sun             Sunrise 6:09, Sunset 8:14, Moonrise 8:00

September 8, Mon         Sunrise 6:40, Sunset 7:28, Moonrise 7:08

October 8, Wed            Sunrise 7:11, Sunset 6:36, Moonrise 6:52


Registration Open for July 12-19 Project AWARE on Big Sioux River

This year's 12th annual Project AWARE event, to be held July 12-19 on the Big Sioux River in NW Iowa/SE South Dakota, will be hosted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The registration deadline is June 20, so check out the changes for 2014 on the Project AWARE website and download your registration form.  

or contact: Lynette Seigley (319)-335-1598. email 


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Cold Water Greets Spring Paddlers
Iowa DNR Logo


After a long, cold winter, Iowa paddlers are itching to get out this spring and enjoy the state's many water trails by paddling and fishing.  "Many new paddlers don't realize that even though the air temperature is warm, the water can still be ice cold," said Todd Robertson, a certified paddling instructor at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "As spring arrives, it takes a while for that water to warm up, making it necessary to have a wetsuit or drysuit and a change of dry clothes in a dry bag in case you dump your boat."


Cold water is not the only danger this time of year. Recent ice breakups have caused many streams to gather downed trees and debris and deposited these "strainers" at the base of bridge pilings and the outside of tight bends in the river.

"Having good boat control skills and understanding how to navigate around hazards is crucial to remaining safe while paddling on the rivers," he said.


Safety Tips for Paddling Iowa Rivers in Early Spring

  • Wear your life jacket
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air
  • Have good boat control skills
  • Know river hazards and how to avoid them
  • Stay away from strainers, wood/branch piles that can pull a paddler under
  • Don't paddle alone
  • Take a dry bag with extra dry clothing
  • Let others know where you are paddling and when you are expected back
  • Do not wear cotton! (cotton absorbs water)
  • Know the stages of hypothermia

For more info on paddling safety materials and programs, contact Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator Todd Robertson: or 515-979-9538.


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Sessions Filling for 2014 Iowa DNR Canoe & Kayak School
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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Reusable Blue Trash Bags Added to Iowa DNR "Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun" Campaign
IDNR Blue Trash Bag


A new reusable, blue trash bag is being distributed through county conservation boards, outfitters, retailers, paddler groups, and others in support of the Iowa DNR's expanded 2014 public relations campaign to improve behavior on Iowa's rivers.  The bags display the "Keep It Clean, Keep It Fun" logo and message used on posters and decals. WT supporters are encouraged to display the materials on vehicles and boats, and during public events and activities.


"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.


Outfitters, conservation boards, and other groups or 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 .  


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WT Organizers Embrace Expanded Iowa DNR 2014 WT Education Programs

Cherie Haury-Artz of OSA discusses native Americans' use of the atlatl.  GStark photo.


The successful Iowa DNR WT Education Program initiative, with expanded topics for 2014, is being embraced by WT organizers and managers across the state.  Many presentations and locations have already been scheduled, and additional requests should be submitted as soon as possible. To learn more about the WT Educational Programs or schedule one or more for your WT, contact Todd Robertson, Outreach Coordinator for DNR River Programs, at 515-979-9538 or   


Most of the topics available for 2014 can be adapted to a presentation in a classroom, in the field, or a combination:


Fish Assemblage & Sampling; Biologists with IDNR Watershed Improvement or Water Monitoring Sections.

Observe electro fishing techniques & learn the unique features of each fish species & their role in the river ecosystem.


Aquatic Insects; Jacklyn Gautsch, Biologist with IDNR Watershed Monitoring & Assessment Section.

Discover the interesting adaptations & life cycle of aquatic invertebrates which dwell below the water surface.


Freshwater Mussels; Jennifer Kurth, Natural Resources Biologist in IDNR Watershed Improvement Section.

Meet these valuable components of freshwater biodiversity-Mother Nature's water filters.


Geologic History of Iowa River Valleys; Geologists from IDNR Geology & Groundwater Section.

Learn about the origin & evolution of Iowa's river valleys & the surrounding upland landscape.


River Critters & Wild Life; Wildlife and Interpretive Specialist Dr. Jim Pease.

Find & understand the wide variety of interconnected wildlife along Iowa's rivers, from birds & mammals to trees & shrubs.


Riparian Plant Program; IDNR Botanist John Pearson.

Learn to recognize the trees, shrubs, & wildflowers which inhabit our waterways, lakeshores, riverbanks & floodplains. 


Iowa's Archaeological Past, A History of Iowa Cultural History; Office of State Archaeologist Staff Cherie Haury-Artz & Elizabeth Reetz.  Reflect on the importance of Iowa's water trails to various people and cultures through time.


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New Sign Developed as Response to Land Owner Feedback
DNR Non Meandered Stream Sign


Message from John Wenck, Iowa DNR Water Trails Coordinator:


One of the first steps when studying the potential for a waterway to become a state designated water trail is to meet with adjacent land owners to listen to any concerns they have or opportunities they see for a water trail.  These meetings generally aren't the most fun for planners to facilitate, but the interactions between project planners and land owners always nets good information that helps us better understand what's happening with the waterway.  We mostly hear about concerns or problems they are experiencing.  The first step toward problem solving is to understand what the problem is.


We've learned in many of our meetings that recreational users along 

non-meandered streams don't understand that the river beds, sandbars, and banks up to the high water line (usually where permanent vegetation begins) are privately owned.  While incidental use is allowed, such as, having lunch on a sandbar, fishing, or portaging around an obstruction, the land is privately owned and not public. After stepping out of a paddlecraft or tube, one is standing on private property.  Therefore, when recreating on a non-meandered stream one should behave as a guest and respect the land by removing trash and not camping or partying on sandbars.


Through a collaborative effort with local county conservation directors and our planning partners we've developed a sign that helps communicate this message to recreational users along non-meandered streams.  This sign measures 30 x 48 inches and should be placed in strategic locations at accesses where the sign can be easily seen, yet protected from high water events and ice outs.  This sign is not required, but is available free from the DNR for all land managers who maintain access points along non-meandered streams.    While we realize this sign won't keep all recreational users from abusing private lands, we do feel it effectively communicates desired expectations.


To request signs please contact me at  or 515-281-8085.


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We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
We'd like to hear from you.

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.  Although we have grown to over 900 subscribers, the success of the IWTA Newsletter will be measured by how much we share, how much we learn, 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.


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Gregg Stark
Editor, Iowa Water Trails Association Newsletter