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Iowa Water Trails Association 
November, 2014  
In the Eddy: Planning Items Not In the Newsletter
Nov 4 Archaeology Program South of Sac City
Invitation to Float Middle River WT
Dec 13 Due Date for IRR River Town Applications
Are You Planning for Early 2015 Events?
IWTA Exhibit at IEC Conference
Fighting Invasive Fish in the Kitchen
Feb 8-11 Stream Restoration Symposium at Dubuque
Iowa Outdoors Magazine Holiday Gift Subscription
2014 IDNR WT Education Programs for Fall-Winter
This Space Could Be Yours!
Answer to Where Is It? Quiz
Answer to What Is It? Quiz
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

Report Kills & Spills Logo  
Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR

November is a month in which we need to give greater thought to safety.  November is one of two weather "transition" months (the other is March), in which temperatures, precipitation, and wind can quickly conspire against campers, hunters, and those on the water.  Proper gear, training, partners, and planning should be the order of the day for any WT trips.


November also marks the arrival of the "goofy deer" season, when the normally nocturnal mammals focus on a very short list of interests at great risk to their, and our safety.


Hunting seasons are getting underway, so it is wise to dress more like a holiday ornament than a wild critter.


No, no!  Not Yet!

The safety and survival of our democracy is dependent on the exercise of both our rights and our responsibilities, so get out and VOTE!  


Paddle, drive, hike, and vote carefully, and we'll all have something to celebrate on Thanksgiving.


Visit the IWTA website: 


And please keep us informed via email at:  


Where Is It? Quiz
Briggs Woods Boone River WT
Where Is It?
Make your best guess, then click on:
What Is It? Quiz
Beaver Tracks A on Cedar River Sandbar G.Stark

What Is It?
Make your best guess, then click on: 

In the Eddy:  Quick Summary of Planning Items


(Dates & Events Not in Newsletter Articles.)


November 1; Daylight Savings ends; set your clocks back tonight. And, replace those smoke detector batteries! 

November 4; VOTE!

November 11; Veterans Day, remember to fly "Old Glory."

November 27; Thanksgiving.

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Nov 4; "Archaeology & Cultural History" Program, Hagge Park South of Sac City 

Photo by Sac CCB.

Join Elizabeth Reetz, Education Director at the Office of the State Archaeologist, as she discusses Iowa's cultural history and the importance of Iowa waterways to that history.


This free, public event will begin at 7:00 pm on November 4 in Hagge Park, South of Sac City, IA.


Elizabeth Reetz holds a BA in Anthropology and an MA in Landscape Archaeology.  She is particularly interested in late prehistoric cultures of the Midwest, pottery analysis, and community-based archaeology.  Her work experience has included time as an archaeologist in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.


This program is free of charge, but preregistration is requested.


To register, contact Sac County Conservation at 712-662-4530 or


This event is cosponsored by Sac County Conservation and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 


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Madison County Invites You to Float the Middle River WT Yet This Fall 

Middle River WT 2008 Jim Liechty

Jim Liechty, Director of the Madison County Conservation Board, cites unusually good water levels on the Middle River WT, and invites you to visit:


"With frequent fall rains, the Middle River Water Trail has been running at excellent levels since early September. With soils remaining saturated, small feeder streams still flowing, and field tiles fully charged, we are anticipating that the flow rates will continue to provide optimum paddling for the next two to three weeks. Most of the prime fall tree color is fading fast, but many river bottom trees are still holding foliage and wildlife viewing at this time of year is excellent."


You can contact Jim at the Madison CCB office, 515-462-3536, or visit



Photo along Middle River WT by Jim Liechty


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Dec 13; Due Date for IRR River Town Applications 

Decorah paddlers helped the city earn its
2014 IRR award.

Iowa Rivers Revival is accepting applications for the annual River Town of the Year award.  Each year IRR 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. 

Applications are due by December 13, 2014.   Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town. The award will be presented in early 2015 at a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival in the River Town of the Year community.
For a detailed application, more information about the award or Iowa Rivers Revival, please go to 

Examples of award criteria include, but are not limited to these activities: 
* River tourism efforts;
* Historic and cultural preservation;
* Providing river access (programs, trails, portages, guide info);
* Annual or seasonal river clean-up or event;
* Partnerships to protect and enhance local river or stream;

Central City IRR RTOY
Central City embraced its riverfront as part of
flood recovery to help earn a 2013 IRR award.

* Dam mitigation and/or safety awareness;

* Promoting commerce that accommodates river enthusiasts (commercial establishments - - e.g., bed & breakfasts, bait/fish shops, restaurants, canoe boat/rentals).

 Previous "River Town" award recipients are Webster City, Elkader, Coon Rapids, Cedar Falls, Charles City, Central City, Dubuque and Decorah.  The web site has previous winning cities' applications for the award, IRR news releases, and news coverage at

Rosalyn Lehman, Executive Director, Iowa Rivers Revival, 515-724-4093,  | 


Iowa Winter Events Seeking Your Ideas, Support, & Involvement

Charles City Exhibit
Charles City WhiteWater was one of several Iowa exhibitors at the 2014 Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin.  G.Stark photo.

Whether you want to plan to avoid conflicts, plan to attend, or plan to participate as a presenter or exhibitor, here are the dates of some key early 2015 events of interest to WT organizers or users.  Most of these events are recruiting low- or no-cost presenters, and offer opportunities for exhibits, displays, or a table for literature about your WT, event, or paddling group.  These events also provide a valuable and enjoyable opportunity to develop or renew contacts across our community.


January 24; Paddle Day at Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids.  Will be the 8th annual gathering of paddlers and friends of the outdoors.  Send your speaker or topic recommendations to Education Facilitator Jan Aiels at     Also, let Jan know if your organization would like to have a water &/or paddling-related display.  

February 3; Iowa Rivers Revival Legislative Reception in Des Moines.  Opportunity to develop legislative relationships, in a casual setting, on behalf of the health of our 70,000 miles of Iowa rivers.  Contact Executive Director Roz Lehman at  Visit IRR at 

February 6-8; Paddle and Pedal Expo at CanoeSport America in Indianola.  Grand-Daddy of the Iowa paddler gatherings, considered an "Iowa Homecoming" for supporters of paddling and river stewardship. Forward program or presentation suggestions to owners Jeff and Casey Holmes: 

February 8-11; PRRSUM 6th Annual UMSRS in Dubuque. Deciphering all those letters, the Partnership for River Restoration and Science in the Upper Midwest will host its 6th annual Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium in Dubuque.  With stream restoration showing signs of gaining traction in the Iowa legislature, this could be a unique and convenient opportunity to network with practitioners in our "neighborhood."  More info at 

March 13-15; Canoecopia in Madison, WI.  Not an Iowa event, but draws a lot of WT folks from our state, and our Iowa exhibitor presence is growing. 

March 21; NE Iowa Paddlefest in Cedar Falls.  Second year for this event, based on a successful first.  Forward ideas for topics or presenters to Black Hawk County Naturalist Chris Anderson:   


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IWTA Exhibits at "Iowa Environmental Council Annual Conference."

IWTA at IEC Conference 2014 G.Stark
Mel Schlacter of Iowa River Friends (L) and Mike Delaney of Raccoon River Watershed Association visit the IWTA exhibit during the IEC Conference.  G.Stark photo.

As part of our efforts to build relationships with Iowa groups where we might share the benefits of recreational and educational opportunities along our water trails, the IWTA exhibited at the 2014 Annual Conference of the Iowa Environmental Council held on October 9, at Drake University in Des Moines.  We visited with many people who subscribe to the IWTA Newsletter, and added a few more.  It was encouraging that so many folks were aware of the IWTA, and very valuable to expose even more to our efforts on behalf of Iowa Water Trails.


The IEC Conference was excellent, with speakers from the national, regional, and local levels sharing valuable insight, ideas, and experiences to help attendees "engage in our future, creating a healthier, sustainable tomorrow."


We look forward to participating in similar future events, especially those organized by our "crossover" water trails users--the folks involved in tourism, outdoor photography, history, archaeology, angling, bird-watching, wildflowers . . . the list goes on.  Water Trails are definitely for paddlers, but they provide a resource and opportunity for the pursuit of many interests.  Please contact us if you know of upcoming opportunities to exhibit on behalf of your Water Trails;


Learn more about the Iowa Environmental Council at:   or 

contact Communications & Outreach Director Katy Heggen at 515-244-1194 x210. 

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Fighting Invasive Fish In the Kitchen at Indian Hills Community College

Silver Carp IDNR Photo

In a format similar to the Iron Chef TV show, high school teams from Burlington, Mediapolis, Fort Madison, Ottumwa, Eddyville-Blakesburg, Cardinal and Mount Pleasant competed on October 17 at Indian Hills Community College for scholarship money to attend IHCC's Culinary Arts program. The competition has been held twice yearly for the last seven years, with six-person teams and their teachers demonstrating their skills in an on-campus studio in front of friends and family.


Contestants are judged on their kitchen skills, service and taste as they respond to the challenge of preparing a meal with a "secret ingredient."  In this case, the secret ingredient was Silver Carp (invasive "flying" carp), so teams were allowed to learn how to work with the species' difficult boney structure prior to the contest.


Congratulations to the Eddyville-Blakesburg High School team, winner of the October 17 competition.


In an interview with WHO TV Channel 13, IHCC department director Chef Gordon Rader stated, "You've got a lot of bones there.  Now, traditionally, that means flavor, and it's true - the fish is great. It's clean, it's crisp, it holds up, it marinates. Let's talk about, 200 pounds of live-weight, you're probably going to get about three pounds of usable product. For most folks, they want something boneless. But if you can get past the bone-piece, it's a great fish."


"I'm interested to see what these high school students can do with it," Rader said. "It's an enjoyable fish to eat. The students said that it tasted better than tuna." These fish have white flesh with a mild flavor unlike its cousin the common carp that feeds on the bottom and has a strong fish taste.


The Iowa DNR collected silver carp for the competition, and sees them as a resource that is already in many of our waterways, one which they hope more people will use.  The competition and public visibility is also an opportunity to remind people to not introduce them into additional areas where they will impact native fish.


Silver and bighead carp were imported from Asia in the 1970's to help maintain commercial catfish farm ponds.  Another example of "it seemed like a good idea at the time," the fish were in natural waters by 1980.  They are known to inhabit the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, but their first documented appearance on an interior river was the Des Moines River in 2003.  These carp feed by filtering microscopic organisms, competing directly with our native aquatic species.  They reproduce rapidly and grow to between 50 and 100 pounds, seriously impacting the available food supply.  Given their size and ability to leap up to 10 feet out of the water, they also present a risk to boaters and water skiers.


Check out the full report from WHO-TV Channel 13 in Ottumwa, including video of the "flying carp:" 


Iowa DNR Fact Sheets on Silver Carp & other aquatic invasive species:  


February 8-11; PRRSUM 6th Annual Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium in Dubuque


The Partnership for River Restoration and Science in the Upper Midwest chose Dubuque as the site for its 6th annual Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium on February 8-11, 2015.  With stream restoration gaining traction in the Iowa legislature, this could be a unique and convenient opportunity to network with practitioners in our "neighborhood." More info at 


The Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium (UMSRS) presents a unique opportunity to bring together regional stream restoration practitioners so they may share experiences and expertise with colleagues working within similar environmental and land-use conditions.  Attendees from multi-disciplinary backgrounds will hear about innovative restoration designs and approaches as well as have the opportunity to network with the region's leading stream restoration practitioners.


UMSRS looks to provide a collaborative environment which will allow an interdisciplinary approach to stream restoration and other related watershed sciences, hence a broad range of speakers and topics are scheduled.  The symposium will include both oral and poster presentations related to stream restoration, including design and related analyses, alternatives analysis, implementation, and monitoring, as well as the planning, regulatory, and funding context under which stream restoration occurs. Selected presentations will be grouped into topical sessions.


UMSRS will take place over 2.5 days, opening with a Sunday night dinner and a keynote talk. The Symposium is single-track (no concurrent sessions) so that all attendees hear all presentation and discussions. Keynote speakers will open each day followed by oral and poster presentations.  Pre-symposium short courses will also be offered concurrently prior to the kickoff dinner on February 8, 2015.  More information on the short courses will be coming soon.


The Symposium will be held in Dubuque, Iowa at the Hotel Julien. The venue will allow easy access from across the Midwest via air or car. Organizers have worked hard to keep registration costs as low as possible, and provide several options for single or multi-day attendance.  Early bird (discounted) registration is available until November 28, 2014.  Regular registration will be open until January 16, 2015.  Info and registration at


The deadlines for session topics and for oral presentations have already passed, but posters will continue to be accepted until registration closes on January 16, 2015.  If you have any questions or if you need further information please contact: Barbara Heitkamp, UMSRS Coordinator


Presenters have been encouraged to incorporate some of the following in their presentations:

  • Stream Restoration Design and Monitoring
  • Regulation and Stream Restoration:  Where am I and what am I doing here?
  • Water Quality Management in Midwest Streams
  • Assessment and Monitoring of Stream Restoration Success
  • Managing Invasive Species in Midwest River
  • Aesthetics in Stream Restoration
  • Rural Stream Restoration
  • Ecology and Stream Restoration
  • Stream Restoration and Agricultural Drainage
  • Lessons Learned:  Stream Restoration Failures (be a brave soul!)
  • Stream Restoration Education: Using Projects as Teaching Tools for the Public


The Partnership for River Restoration and Science in the Upper Midwest (PRRSUM, pronounced "prism") was created to address river research and restoration in the Upper Midwest, an area of intense activity involving federal and local agencies, watershed managers, consultants, researchers, and educators. Organizers identified a clear demand for discussion, knowledge exchange, and collaboration between these entities, including two-way exchanges between research and practice as well as interagency communication.  Learn more about PRRSUM at


"Iowa Outdoors" Magazine Could Impact Your Holiday Gift List

Many of you already subscribe to the Iowa Outdoors magazine, but this is the time of year to keep it in mind as a holiday gift.  Articles on outdoor recreation, all forms of trails, flora, fauna, food, and places to explore around the state ensure that it will be enjoyed by just about anyone, and a great resource for kids and grandkids.  Whether that person on your list likes to hunt for a trophy buck, a record crappie, the elusive mushroom, or the perfect photo, the magazine provides ideas and examples to improve their success.


Iowa Outdoors magazine is entertaining, educational, and a great holiday gift!  


IDNR 2014 WT Education Programs Available for Fall & Winter; Planning Underway for 2015

The "float season" is drawing to a close, but please keep in mind that most of the 2014 topics can be enjoyed as indoor presentations during the fall and winter. You may also want to be added to the contact list for announcement of WT Education Programming for 2015.  Contact Todd Robertson, Outreach Coordinator for DNR River Programs, at 515-979-9538 or


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

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; OSA Staff Cherie Haury-Artz & Elizabeth Reetz.

Reflect on the importance of Iowa's water trails to various people and cultures through time.


Next Month; This Space Could Be Yours! 

Belted Kingfisher Nick Chill

This could be an article about:

  • Your upcoming WT recreation, education, or cleanup event.
  • Your upcoming WT organizing or stakeholder event. 
  • The valuable contributions of your WT volunteers.
  • The oldest or youngest users of your WT.
  • Your most unique WT programming of 2014.
  • Your most successful WT program ideas.
  • What you learned from a less-than-successful WT event.
  • What you believe to be the most valuable contributions of WTs to Iowa.
  • Your request for assistance on how to address a WT challenge, create a WT opportunity,                or solve a WT problem.

Whatever you are proud of, concerned for, or wondering about, your WT community is here to provide support. Just tap in to your resources.


Contact us at 


WhereIsItWhere Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Briggs Woods WT Access
Paved access for canoes & kayaks.

These photos were taken at Access 22 on the Boone River WT in Briggs Woods County Park, two miles south of Webster City on Highway 17. 


The original 60 acres of land was donated to the public in 1919, making Briggs Woods one of the oldest county parks in Iowa. The park has grown to over 555 acres with camping, swimming, trails, golf and river access.


The campground includes 30 full service sites, 81 sites with electrical hook-up only, plus primitive sites with modern shower and restroom facilities nearby. The park also offers four camper cabins, each accommodating four people.


The 70 acre lake offers a sand beach, fishing from shore or via boats with electric motors, and canoe or kayak rentals. 


Briggs Woods Spillway Ditch 166 provides the adventurous paddler with a whitewater thrill of a five ledge drop of 20 feet in just .3 miles, at speeds of 60 feet per minute through the rapids.  The scenic route also offers views of two waterfalls.


If the boating/fishing/camping/hiking/paddling options aren't enough, check out the adjoining 18-hole par 72 public golf course.


Download a map of the Boone River WT in Hamilton County: 


Info about Briggs Woods County Park:


Briggs Woods Lake Tranquility
Tranquility on the lake at Briggs Woods County Park in Hamilton County.

Photos by G.Stark 

WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Beaver Tracks on Sandbar Cedar R G.Stark
Tale of the Beaver Tail Trail on a Cedar River Sandbar.


It is a challenge to capture in a photograph, but these are the tracks made by a beaver crossing a sandbar to harvest small willows, and dragging them back to the river to add to its storage of winter food.  


You may be able to distinguish the winding trail made by the beaver's tail as the animal waddles on land.  They are much more graceful in the water, where that tail serves as a rudder, and webbed rear feet can propel the animal at up to five miles per hour.


On our larger streams and lakes, beavers burrow into the banks to create a home for an extended family. In wetland areas, they will use their strong teeth and powerful jaws to create log, branch, and mud structures to block streams and turn fields and forests into large ponds. Using similar materials and methods, beavers may also construct the iconic domed lodges in the middle of such ponds, accessible only via underwater entrances.


Beavers are mammals, among the largest of rodents, growing to 60 lbs, with an average life span of 24 years. They are herbivores and prefer to eat leaves, bark, twigs, roots, and aquatic plants.  Their propensity to cut trees, block streams, and flood low areas sometimes puts them at odds with farmers and public storm-water or parks managers.


From "Trends in Wildlife Populations and Harvests," 2012 by the Iowa DNR   

"By the early 20th century, beaver were extirpated from Iowa. Harvest seasons remained closed throughout the 1930s and early 1940s while a statewide translocation and reintroduction program occurred. In 1943, the beaver harvest season was reopened and 235 were harvested. Beaver harvests averaged 450 through the late 1940s and by the early 1950s, began a steady upward trend. Harvests reached a current, all-time high of 18,459 during the 1988-89 season. Harvests declined in the early 1990s although quickly stabilized, averaging 10,800 through the early 2000s. Harvests progressively declined in the 2000s and dropped below the long-term average (7,085) during the 2004-05 and 2006-07 through 2010-11 seasons. In 2011-12, the beaver harvest reached an 18-year high of 11,652; a number similar to the high harvests recorded during the 1990s. The harvest in 2012-13 declined slightly to 10,861. Trapping season dates were similar to the previous year, with the season extended two weeks in April (3 Nov-15 Apr) and daily bag (no limit) and possession (no limit) limits remained unchanged from 2011-12."


Did You Know? Iowa Community of Beaver, near Beaver Creek in Boone County

Beaver, Iowa is a small community along Highway 30 on the western edge of Boone County.  The 2010 census indicated 48 people in 20 households, with the local ag elevator providing the sole source of employment.  Does anyone know whether the town was named for the animal, the creek, or a pioneer family?  An interesting photo essay on Jay Simser's eclectic blog helps us reflect on Beaver and the many similar towns slowly disappearing across Iowa:   


Photos by G.Stark

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We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Beaver gnawing on large tree G.Stark
Our special thanks to:
  • The Iowa Environmental Council staff for their hospitality and assistance at the recent IEC Conference.  Kudos on a very well executed conference.
  • All of the WT event organizers and presenters who continue to provide numerous opportunities for Iowa WT education and enjoyment as our on-water season draws to a close.
  • Everyone who provided WT event information and photo support for this issue of the IWTA Newsletter.
Beavers do not hibernate, preferring to stay busy throughout the winter.  The same is true of our WT organizers and coordinators.  It takes a lot of planning to maintain and improve WT accesses, expand available amenities, and develop interesting and informative programming.  Please consider your local WT folks and County Conservation Boards in your year-end contributions of funding, volunteer time, and other resources.

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. That is only possible with your support and participation. 


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


If you are not one of the over 1,100 Iowans who currently subscribe to this free, monthly email IWTA Newsletter, please click on the convenient "Join Our Mailing List" button to get on board.


And, please share 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