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Iowa Water Trails Association 
December, 2014  
See Passenger Pigeons in Iowa
IWTA Needs Your Newsletter Survey Feedback
In the Eddy: Planning Items Not In the Newsletter
Annual Winter Bird Counts Start Dec 14
Jan 24 Indian Creek Nature Center Paddle Day in CR
Jan 24 Indian Creek Nature Center Paddle Day in CR
Events to Kick Off 2015
Feb 8-11 Stream Restoration Symposium at Dubuque
Ice Rescue--Are You Prepared to Help?
New DNR 7-Digit Phone Numbers at Des Moines Office
Share, Applaud, or Complain--This Space Could Be Yours!
Thanks to Our Subscribers



Iowa Rivers Revival, Protector of Rivers, Streams & Watersheds

Report Kills & Spills Logo  
Keep It Clean Sticker IDNR
Seasons Greetings 
to All of Our Subscribers

'Twas a few nights before Christmas, and in the bustle of holiday givers, there wasn't much paddling, in the land 'tween two rivers.

For a hardy few of you, paddling in Iowa is a year-round activity. Each season brings its own beauty, but also its own safety concerns. If you think that winter paddling is for you, please take the time to learn about dealing with a mixture of water and ice, proper gear, proper planning, and safety in numbers.  We highly recommend that you visit with experienced paddlers through a full-service paddling shop, or experienced members of groups like Central Iowa Paddlers, Skunk River Paddlers, or Cedar Valley Paddlers. This is an excellent time to choose safety over solitude.


The best holiday gift for the IWTA would be for you to complete the IWTA Newsletter Survey. Your feedback can increase the value of the newsletter for all of us. See the article and link in this newsletter.


Oh, and a few more IWTA Newsletter subscribers would be nice, too!

We always welcome your comments and suggestions on how we can make this newsletter more valuable to you. Please keep us informed via email at: 


Please be careful out there, and we'll look forward to visiting with you at the paddling shows during January, February, and March.


Visit the IWTA website: 

Visit Passenger Pigeons In Iowa
Mark Wagner, Director of Education at the National Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque, responded to the "What? Quiz? in our Dec 1 newsletter to inform us of a unique opportunity at the museum:

"There is a mounted pair (male and female) of Passenger Pigeons at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.  They are on display here and permanently archived here.  I also remember at least one mounted Passenger Pigeon at Iowa State University in their old science building, as part of their wildlife collection.


"Please pass this on to the Passenger Pigeon groups, as I could not seem to open their e-mail."


Contact Mark at 563-557-9545 ext. 206


Find more Info about visiting the museum at  

National Mississippi River Museum Logo




Bring It On!!! We Need Your Feedback to Improve Your Newsletter

lady-keyboard-hands.jpg Our sincere thanks goes out to the readers who have already completed the IWTA Newsletter Survey; you have provided a lot of useful feedback to improve your newsletter. 


To the rest of you: Please take a few minutes, pour yourself a tasty beverage, click on this link, and share your assessment of how the IWTA Newsletter can best provide the most valuable content, format, and delivery to meet your needs and interests.


IWTA Newsletter Survey 141209

We realize that "survey" is not a very popular word in political-caucus-rich Iowa, but a short survey is the most efficient way to gauge what our newsletter readers enjoy, want us to add, or would rather we delete.


The survey allows more than one response per email address, and we encourage all members of the household to respond, but please limit yourselves to one response per person.

All we ask is your investment of a few minutes of your time, then we'll combine your feedback with a renewed investment of our time, and get back to delivering the best product we can to serve Iowans working to create, improve, or simply utilize our valuable Water Trails.


The IWTA Newsletter is currently sent (by request) to well over 1100 email addresses, evidence that a significant number of Iowans enjoy, and care about, our Water Trails.  We appreciate your support, and welcome your ideas, suggestions, and news items at

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In the Eddy:  Quick Summary of Planning Items

PLANNING CALENDAR:  Winter Sunset G.Stark

(Dates & Events Not in Newsletter Articles.)

Dec 13-14; Geminid Meteor Shower peaks with up to 120 meteors per hour.

Dec 14--Jan 5; Audubon Christmas Bird Count; 

Dec 21; Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year,1st day of Winter.


Sun sets on a short winter day in Iowa. Photo by G.Stark

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Annual Winter Bird Counts Start Dec 14 

Iowa Audubon Logo

According to


"The annual Christmas Bird Count is here.  It dates back to 1900, when ornithologist Frank Chapman proposed an alternative to the recreational hunting of birds that usually occurred on Christmas Day. He enlisted the help of twenty-seven conservationists in twenty-five different areas. Rather than kill birds, the group simply counted them.


Now sponsored by the National Audubon Society, the Christmas Bird Count is still going strong and welcomes everyone-from novice to expert. Click here to learn more and get involved: "


To learn about bird count activities in your area, check with:

Even if you're still a novice birder, they may need someone to make hot chocolate.


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Pool Sessions in Cedar Falls, Saturday Evenings in January

pool-lanes.jpg Winter pool sessions are a good way to learn new safety and handling skills or simply keep them sharp, as well as make the winter more enjoyable.  Check with your local paddle shop or recreation center for such events in your area.  Paddlers in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area (and beyond) have been the beneficiaries of the efforts of Al Donaldson's organizing such an opportunity for the past several years.


Al Donaldson has again organized winter pool sessions for paddlers, to be held 5:00 pm--8:00 pm at Peet Jr High School in Cedar Falls every Saturday in January. These sessions are intended to allow self-directed practice and instruction for canoeists, paddle-boarders and kayakers. The 2015 calendar provides five Saturdays in January, one more session than in the past.

Al asks that:
1) Participants come with clean boats and gear.
2) Life jackets will be used by all paddlers when in the pool.
3) Some real effort is made to clear the pool and lockers before 8:30.
4) Each participant provide some small amount of cash to assist in paying for the pool time.

Contact Al if you are interested in participating, and he will follow up with details, maps, etc. as the time draws near.  
Email:   Cell: (319) 277-3194


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Jan 24; Paddle Day at Indian Creek Nature Center in Cedar Rapids

Bill & Joyce Schoon on Cedar
Bill & Joyce Schoon will be among presenters
at Jan 24 ICNC Paddle Day.  G.Stark photo.

The annual ICNC Paddle Day offers something for every paddler, whether a beginner or seasoned veteran.  Connect with a paddling buddy, share experiences, learn about new gear, and discover new places to paddle. Doors open at noon for you to enjoy paddling exhibits and displays by various paddling organizations. 


Speakers begin at 12:30 PM and will include:

  • "Paddling Adventures in the Ozarks" by Marty Koch;
  • "Kickapoo River, A Gem in SW Wisconsin" by Lisa Nagle and Jan Aiels;
  • "Expanded View from the Cockpit," by Bill and Joyce Schoon;
  • "Discover Great Local Paddling Opportunities."  

Visit for details. 

Members $8; Nonmembers $12.


Would you like to display and promote your paddling programming at this event? 

Please contact Jan at  to reserve a free display table. 

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WT-Related Events to Kick Off 2015

NE Iowa PFest IWTA Disp GStark
Paddlers visit the IWTA display during the 2014 NE Iowa PaddleFest in Cedar Falls.  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.  See details on this event elsewhere in this newsletter. Visit 

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. Watch for info and presentation schedules at  

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 Black Hawk CCB event, based on a successful first.  Keynote speaker, concurrent presentations, heated pool sessions.


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


The Partnership for River Restoration and Science in the Upper Midwest will host its 6th annual Upper Midwest Stream Restoration Symposium (UMSRS) on February 8-11, 2015 in Dubuque. With stream restoration gaining traction in the Iowa legislature, this will be a unique and convenient opportunity to network with practitioners in our "neighborhood." 


The UMSRS will bring together regional stream restoration practitioners to share experiences and expertise with colleagues working within similar environmental and land-use areas.  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. 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, regulation, and funding. 


Presentations and presenters for the single-track symposium are being finalized, and all event details will be available shortly at  

Learn more about PRRSUM at 


Are You Prepared to Assist With an Ice Rescue?

Ice Rescue Gear
'Be Prepared!"  Photo by G.Stark

While Mother Nature has delivered freezing temps much earlier than normal, and many lakes and rivers have a covering of ice, be advised that most of that ice is still not ready to support anglers, hunters, snowmobilers or their equipment. The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of ice for fishing and a minimum of five inches of ice for ATVs or snowmobiles.  That thickness should be verified with caution and plenty of test holes.


The DNR suggests that ice fishermen include ice picks, a PFD, and at least 50' of rope with their fishing gear.  Even without a lid, a 5 gallon bucket can be inverted to serve as a float until help arrives. A plastic jug with a lid and some nylon rope makes an inexpensive throw line to provide floatation and pull someone to shore; the rope can be stored inside the jug until needed.


From a recent DNR news release: "An angler alone, who falls through the ice, must try to get herself out. Two minutes in cold water is long enough to make hands too stiff to use. On average, a person can survive in cold water only twenty to thirty minutes before hypothermia overcomes him. Grasp the edge of the ice in the direction of shore or safe ice and, if it breaks, keep going until you find solid ice. Use your legs to get your torso out on the ice. Roll to safety."


Paddlers have at least one PFD, and many have a throw bag.  Why not store those in your car trunk for the winter, next to your ice-scraper, shovel, sleeping bag, and jug of sand?  

You might get the chance to save someone's life.


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CORRECTION: New DNR Phone Numbers May Include 7 New Digits 

Iowa DNR Logo

As part of converting the Iowa DNR to the 725 prefix, the last 4 digits may also have been changed. To clarify:

  • Main DNR phone number is now 515-725-8200; Main fax is now 515-725-8201.
  • DNR 24-hour spill hotline will remain (515-281-8694) thru June 30, 2015, changing to 725-8694 on July 1, 2015.
  • The Turn In Poachers (TIP) hotline will remain 800-532-2020.

A complete pdf listing of new phone numbers can be found on the DNR website at .


Here's the contact information for two of your more likely sources for information about programs, training, or events in the Iowa DNR River Programs:


John Wenck, River Programs Water Trails Coordinator


Desk Phone  515-725-8465     Work Cell  515-494-8629


Todd Robertson, River Programs Outreach Coordinator


Desk Phone  515-725-2960     Work Cell  515-979-9538


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 


We Hope That You Are Enjoying the IWTA Newsletter
Beaver gnawing on large tree G.Stark
Our thanks to everyone who helped support the IWTA Newsletter throughout 2014.  Special thanks to those who provided information about WT events, or ideas and photos for the quizzes.

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