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Iowa Water Trails Association 
January, 2016  
Send us your 2016 Event Dates!
Jan 16 ICNC Paddle Day in Cedar Rapids--Win the Sassafras Canoe Raffle!
Jan 9 & 16 Des Moines River History Presentations
Jan 12 Natural River Restoration Listening Sessions Continue Along Des Moines River
Feb 5-7 Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo--Mark Your Calendar
Feb 7 Winter Waters Fun Fest in Camanche--Free Display Space!
Apr 2 Outdoor Adventure Fest in Waterloo/Cedar Falls--Call for Speakers!
Are You An Iowa River Friend?
Tax Time--Time to "Friend" Our Wildlife!
2016 is a Boat Registration Year
Winter Pool Sessions Around Iowa Sharpen Paddling Skills
What Readers are Following & Recommending
IRR Master River Stewards Seeking A Few Good Facilitators
Answer to Where Is It? Quiz
Answer to What Is It? Quiz
Thanks to IWTA Readers

Todd Robertson ICNC P Day 2012 GStark
Iowa DNR River Programs
Outreach Coordinator Todd Roberts
encourages safe paddling.
Happy New Year! to our 1200+ readers, and best wishes for an enjoyable and safe 2016. Your info and support makes this newsletter relevant, so please make a resolution to keep it coming.

It's January, the start of "Show Season"--indoor events of interest to Water Trails supporters, paddlers, and other outdoorsy folks, The usual Iowa events kick off with the Jan 16 ICNC Paddle Day in Cedar Rapids, followed by the Feb 5-7 Paddle & Pedal Expo in Indianola, a new Feb 7 Winter Water Fun Fest in Camanche, and the renamed Apr 2 Outdoor Adventure Fest in Waterloo/Cedar Falls. We encourage you to support these events and their organizers, learn about trips/gear/skills, and spend time with folks who share your interests.

We'd also like to remind you that January is the traditional time to renew your memberships in the paddling, photography, and environmental or advocacy groups which rely on our support.

Mother Nature has shared some unusually warm weather through the latter part of 2015, but we seem to be returning to "normal winter Iowa." In either case, hypothermia is still a very real risk, and ice conditions remain "iffy" across the state. The prerequisites of proper training, necessary gear, a paddle plan, and the buddy system are especially important for winter paddling. Cold weather, cold water paddling is a unique challenge and experience, but the risks must be managed. Be careful out there.

We continue to welcome info and dates for 2016 events. Please contact us with your ideas, questions, concerns, or corrections:
Where Is It? Quiz
Sabula Twd Main Channel Oct2015 G.Stark

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

What Is It? Quiz
Sea Scorpion in Iowa
What Is It?
Make your best guess, then click on: 

Send Us Your Info for the 2016 IWTA Planning Calendar!
Calendar photo 2016We're gathering event information for the 2016 IWTA Planning Calendar. Whether you have firm dates and complete details, or tentative dates and a rough outline, we would like to hear from you. Even if you just share an "inkling," we will have a reminder to follow up with you as the year progresses.

Among the dates/events we have already gathered:

Jan 1; New Year's Day.
Jan 2; Earth at Perihelion, closest orbit to Sun.
Jan 3-4; Quadrantid Meteor Shower at Peak, up to 40 per hour.
Jan 9; Des Moines' River Roots (Part 1). 2:00 pm Jan 9, Des Moines.
Jan 11; Iowa Legislative Session Opens. Find contact info for your legislators at
Jan 12; IRR Natural River Restoration Listening Session in Boone. 5:30 pm at Ericson Library,
Jan 16; ICNC Paddle Day, Cedar Rapids. Noon-5:00 pm, presentations, exhibits, door prizes, canoe raffle; 
Jan 16; Des Moines' River Roots (Part 2). 2:00 pm Jan 9, Des Moines.
Jan 18; Martin Luther King Day.
Jan 23; Full Moon. Sunset 5:10, Moonrise 5:11 pm, Moonset 6:50 am, all CST.
Feb 1; Iowa Caucuses. 
Feb 5-7; CSO Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo, Indianola. Three days of presentations, exhibits, dealer reps, spring deals. 
Feb 6; Nick's Annual Pre-Expo Breakfast, note time and site change to 8:00 am at the Indianola HyVee, Hwy 69 at north end of Indianola.
Feb 7; Winter Waters Fun Fest, Rock Creek Park & The Mississippi River Eco-tourism Center, Camanche. Presentations and displays about paddling trips, free use of winter sports equipment, chili/mac supper, free display space to paddlers; free family event. Chuck Jacobsen, Clinton CCB, 563-847-7202, Cell: 563-357-0759
Feb 7; Super Bowl 50, San Francisco Bay Area.
Feb 8; Iowa Rivers Revival Legislative Reception. 5-7 pm at Noodle Zoo in Des Moines, info at
Feb 14; Valentine's Day.
Feb 15; Presidents' Day.
Feb 22; Full Moon. Sunset 5:48, Moonrise 6:00 pm, Moonset 6:41 am, all CST.
Feb 27; Iowa Games Winter Events. 
Feb 29; Extra Day for Leap Year.
Mar 5; Outdoor Photography Workshop, Quad Cities.
Mar 11-13; Rutabaga Canoecopia, Madison, WI. 
Mar 13; Daylight Savings Time Begins. Set clocks ahead one hour.
Mar 17; St. Patrick's Day.
Mar 20; Vernal Equinox, First Day of Spring.
Mar 23-24; Iowa Water Conference, Ames. Agenda and photo contest rules at
Apr 2-3; Outdoor Adventure Fest, Waterloo/Cedar Falls. Keynote by Dr. Jim Pease (formerly the NE Iowa PaddleFest).
Katie Shelton
Apr 5; IRR Technical Workshop for Natural River Restoration. Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
Apr 18; Federal Income Tax Filing Deadline. (Iowa State Income Tax filing deadline Apr 30).
Apr 19; 100th Calendar Day of Iowa Legislative Session; per diem expenses end, traditional target for adjournment.
Apr 30; Iowa 3-Year Boat Registrations Expire.
Apr 30; Iowa State Income Tax Filing Deadline--Remember the Chickadee Checkoff!
Jun 16-17; Iowa Trails Summit, Cedar Falls.
Jun 18; Charles City Challenge. 
Jun 25; Iowa Games, Cedar Falls.
Jul 31--Aug 6; Great River Rumble, route TBD (likely 100 miles from Eau Clair to Winona on the Chippewa and Mississippi Rivers).
Aug TBD; Mussel Blitz, Dates & Sites TBD; Scott Gritters
Sep 14; VA Vets Paddle, Riverside. Volunteer coordinator Tom Sabotta
Sep 17; IARVCP Iowa River Cleanup, Iowa City.
Oct TBD; Minnesota Water Trails & Tourism Summit, biennial conference expected again in 2016, attendees from neighboring states welcome.
Oct TBD; Dennis Wendel Mussel Move, Waterloo. Annual event to rescue mussels left high and dry by seasonal deflation of the bladder dam on the Cedar River; Pam Wolter,

Do you have WT-related events or planning info for 2016?
Contact us at

Jan 16; Indian Creek Nature Center Paddle Day in Cedar Rapids--
Enjoy the Presentations & Exhibits, Enter the Raffle to Win a Sassafras Canoe!
ICNC Sassafrass Canoe Raffle 2016
Buy a raffle ticket to win this handsome,
hand-built lapstrake Sassafras solo canoe,
currently on display at Indian Creek Nature Center.
In conjunction with its annual Paddle Day event, Indian Creek Nature Center is hosting a raffle of a beautiful, hand-built, 12' solo Sassafras lapstrake canoe. This lightweight wood canoe includes water-tight compartments, adjustable foot pegs, and provision for a back band. Its graceful lines are accentuated by a white exterior and natural interior. Tickets are $5 each or 6 for $25. They can be purchased via credit card by calling the Nature Center at 319-362-0664, or by stopping in at the ICNC Creekside Shop. Tickets will be available to purchase during the ICNC Paddle Day, up until the drawing at the end of the day. You need not be present to win.
More Sassafras photos and design info at:

The ICNC Paddle Day will be held from Noon-5:00 pm on Saturday, Jan 16 at Indian Creek Nature Center, 6665 Otis Rd SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.
Voyagers ICNC Presentation
Beautiful scenery in the Land of the Voyagers.

This 9th 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 or discover a new place to paddle.  Enjoy displays, door prizes and engaging presentations.

Doors open at noon for you to examine paddling exhibits and displays by various paddling organizations. 
ICNC Members $8; NM;$12. 

Speakers begin at 12:30 pm and will include:
  • Corey Smock, "Paddle for Prevention: A Mississippi Voyage"   
  • Darrin Seifkin,  "Kayaking Lake Superior" 
  • Todd Robertson, "Safety First" 
  • Bruce Frana and Eric Evans:  "Retracing the Voyageurs' Route: Across the Boundary Waters to Lake Superior"  
For complete details of each presentation, or the raffle, visit  

Photos courtesy Indian Creek Nature Center
Jan 9 & 16; Des Moines Area MPO Sponsoring Des Moines River History Series
Des Moines Area Metro Planning Org
As part of its ongoing planning effort for water trails and nearby greenways, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is is sponsoring two river history events in January:

Des Moines' River Roots (Part 1)
2:00 pm on Jan 9, Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314

Description:  The Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers were critical in the founding of Des Moines. Did you know that their significance to people predates Fort Des Moines? Did you know that the rivers played an important role as Native Americans migrated west? Join two local historians as they share about critical points in the river history of Des Moines. Bill Whittaker will present his talk, "The Archaeology of Des Moines' Raccoon Point." Kathy Gourley will speak on the "Meskwaki and Sauk Migrations to Kansas in the mid-1840s."

Des Moines' River Roots (Part 2)
2:00 pm on Jan 16, Hoyt Sherman Place, 1501 Woodland Ave, Des Moines, IA 50314

Description:  Have you ever wondered what life was like in Des Moines over a hundred years ago? Rivers have been fundamental in shaping development and recreation in our communities. Join two local historians as they share about Des Moines' river history and a resident made famous by his passion for the water.  John Zeller will speak on "Fishing Money from the River: Historic Uses and Misuses of the Des Moines River."  John Wenck will present "Tacitus Hussey: Des Moines Pioneer and River Man."
If you have any questions, please contact:
Theresa Cody at or phone 515-334-0075
Jan 12; Natural River Restoration Listening Sessions Continue Along Des Moines River
IRR Logo
Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) and American Rivers continue their series of educational meetings that will provide an introduction to natural river restoration benefits and practices. Landowners, farmers, conservationists, educators, and interested members of the public are invited to attend the free meetings, which last about 1 hour.
The presentations focus on communities near the Des Moines River, with the first two held in Humboldt and Boone in early December. Staci Williams, an Associate Director for American Rivers, will lead the discussion. Upcoming meeting dates and sites:
  • Tuesday, Jan 12 at 5:30 p.m. in Boone at the Ericson Library
  • Tuesday, Apr 5 Technical Workshop at the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance
Natural river restoration provides many benefits to landowners and the surrounding community, including:
  • Offers affordable and sustainable options to reduce stream bank erosion and keep productive cropland and stream buffers in place.  
  • Improves water quality by reducing sediment and nutrient loading into the stream.
  • Reduces flooding and flood effects.
  • Protects local infrastructure such as bridges and roads from erosion and flooding, and reduces taxpayer expense to repair, replace and maintain.
  • Enhances aquatic and riparian wildlife habitat and ecosystem.
  • Improves river recreation, fishing, and hunting - boosting local economies and providing public health and quality of life.
Roz Lehman, Executive Director, Iowa Rivers Revival, 515-724-4093,
Staci Williams, Associate Director, American Rivers, 843-957-2367,
Full event info at:

Feb 5-7; Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo in Indianola--Mark Your Calendar!
Join your paddling friends at the Expo.
It's too early to expect Canoesport Outfitters to announce the presentation schedule, but it's definitely time to reserve February 5-7, 2016 for attending the annual Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo in Indianola. 

It's all good--good info, good gear, good people, and good deals. 
Hope to see you there!

Watch for the presentation schedule and other Expo info at:

Nick Gaeta's Annual Pre-Expo Breakfast has moved to the Indianola HyVee at 8:00 am on Saturday, Feb 6. The Indianola HyVee is located on the east side of Hwy 69 as you enter from the north--5 minutes from the Expo. No reservations, just show up and buy your own breakfast, make some new paddling friends. 
Questions? Contact Nick at

G.Stark photo.  
Feb 7; Winter Waters Fun Fest in Camanche--Free Display Space!
Logo Clinton Co Con
A new "Winter Waters Fun Fest" will be held at Rock Creek Park & The Mississippi River Eco-tourism Center near Camanche on Sunday, February 7.  

The event will include numerous presentations and displays about area and regional paddling trips, free use of winter sports equipment, and a chili/mac supper. This is a free family event, and display space is free to paddlers. 

For more information, contact Chuck Jacobsen, Clinton CCB, 563-847-7202, Cell: 563-357-0759
Apr 2-3; "Outdoor Adventure Fest" in Waterloo/Cedar Falls--Call for Speakers!
Mary Hyland Explains Project AWARE during 2015 PaddleFest.
Black Hawk County has announced a new event name and new location, set the date(s), and issued a "Call for Speakers!"

What was named "PaddleFest" for the past two years is now the "Outdoor Adventure Fest." The name was changed primarily to broaden the event's focus to include all types of outdoor recreation, including paddling.

This year's event will take place April 2-3, 2016 at the Black Hawk County YMCA. The indoor sessions will be held on April 2, with an optional paddle outing on April 3.

April is not that far off, and organizers are looking for speakers for this year's conference. Katie Shelton, Vern Fish and the crew are looking for folks who have taken high adventure trips, local adventure trips, or who can present on natural history topics (birding, rocks, fossils, etc). 

This year's keynote speaker, Jim Pease, will speak to the status of rivers here in Iowa. 

If you are interested in speaking at the 2016 Outdoor Adventure Fest, or have suggestions or questions about the event, please email Katie at

G.Stark photo.  
Iowa River Friends Developing First "State of the Iowa River" Report
Iowa River Friends Logo
Iowa River Friends is developing its first annual "State of the Iowa River" report, planning to release the report at the group's annual meeting in March.  In addition to water quality and other environmental issues, IRF hopes to include information about human activity such as recreational or educational river usage. The report's emphasis will be on the measurable, but anecdotal information could lead to future measurements.

If you live, work, or play along the Iowa River or its tributaries, and would like to join IRF and receive the report, visit the Iowa River Friends website at 
If you have some information to share for the report, contact Chairman Mel Schlachter at

Taxes May Be a Given, But Keeping Friends Like the Chickadee Is Not
Chickadee Checkoff Logo
Here's the annual reminder and important message from the folks at the Iowa Fish and Wildlife Fund:

It's time to make the tax season just a little bit wild....
Raise your hand if you know you can make a difference for Iowa's wildlife on the state tax form.  There should be at least 7,500 of you with your hands in the air. That's how many folks donated a bit or all of their state tax refund to the Fish and Wildlife Fund - affectionately called the Chickadee Check-off -- on 2014 tax returns, translating to $132,000 in support of wildlife conservation in Iowa.
Since the 1980s, thousands of Iowans have supported Iowa wildlife by making donations when they prepare their taxes. Today, 100 percent of those dollars go to the state's Wildlife Diversity Program, which protects nongame and vulnerable species through habitat development, data collection and research, education and much more.
Donating is easy. Simply enter your donation amount in the Fish and Wildlife Check-Off contribution line (usually between lines 55-59 on form 1040), and the sum is either automatically deducted from the refund or added to the amount owed. As with all charitable contributions, these dollars are deductible from next year's taxes.  Don't forget to talk to your tax preparer if you have your taxes done professionally - many tax preparers forget to mention donation opportunities. 
If every Iowa taxpayer donated just $1 on the Fish and Wildlife Check-off, it would mean $1.5 million for natural resource conservation!  So, if you're able, take a moment this tax season to get a little wild and consider making a donation.  The 1000+ species of birds, butterflies, mammals, frogs, toads, turtles and dragonflies that call Iowa home will thank you.    

2016 is a Boat Registration Year--
Select Boat Owners Need to Verify Hull ID Number to Register their Craft
Iowa DNR Logo
2016 is a boat registration year and Iowans will be registering about 235,000 boats between Jan 1 & Apr 30.
Boat registrations are handled by Iowa's county recorders. 
Boat owners should bring their current registration to recorder's office in the county where the individual resides when they renew. Nonresidents who register their boat in Iowa will go to the county where the boat is primarily used. Owners who purchased a boat from a private seller and is registering it in their name should bring the signed registration and to make sure the title is signed over to them, if applicable.
Boat registrations are good for three years. The fees go to support water trails, navigation enforcement, aquatic invasive species, boater education and safety, and the registration system.
Just a reminder, registration is not required for the following vessels:
  • Inflatable vessels that are 7 feet or less in length.
  • Canoes and kayaks that are 13 feet or less in length and have no motor or sail
  • Vessels properly registered in another state and using Iowa waters for 60 days or less.
Find info about registration and proper display of decals and numbers at: 
IWTA has confirmed that the owners of approximately 589 canoes and 52 kayaks are among more than 13,000 Iowa boat owners receiving a letter alerting them that their boat hull identification number (HIN) does not comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations and they have to verify their HIN with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in order to register their boat.
The US Coast Guard requires any vessel manufactured in year 1973 and newer to have a valid 12 digit HIN.  Boat owners will need that valid 12 digit HIN to register their craft, and the current 3-year registrations expire in April 2016. 
Complete instructions for updating the HIN will be included in the letter. "This is no fault of the boat owner; they purchased a craft that had an incorrect HIN issued by the manufacturer. We want to help them resolve this before their registration expires on April 30, 2016," said Susan Stocker, boating law administrator for the Iowa DNR. 
For further questions, contact: Susan Stocker, Boating Law Administrator and Education Coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, at 515-725-8477.
Winter Pool Sessions Continue at Cedar Rapids, Indianola, Waverly
Canoesport Outfitters staffer Shireen Cave demonstrates basic SUP skills at the Indianola "Y" Pool.  
G.Stark photo.

Cedar Rapids at Bender Pool: 
The Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation Department, in cooperation with Linn County Conservation, is offering kayakers, ages ten and up, a chance to practice their skills such as strokes, rolls and safety and rescue moves in the controlled environment at Bender Pool, 940 14th Avenue SE. Drop-in Sunday pool sessions for kayakers are being offered each month from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on (remaining dates) January 3, 17 and 31, February 14 and 28, and March 13. The sessions are practices, not lessons, but experienced paddlers will be available to help. The fee is $10 per person per visit. No advance registration is required.
Participants bring their own kayaks and equipment and wear proper swim attire and clean life jackets. A helmet is required for those practicing rolls. The kayaks must be rinsed, inside and out, with the hose just outside the door before they can be placed in the pool. Youth must be supervised by an adult. For more information, call Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation, (319) 286-5731.
Indianola at Indianola "Y" Pool: 
Formal paddling skills classes are offered by CanoeSport Outfitters at the Indianola "Y" Pool. Visit the CanoeSport Outfitters website for details:  
Waverly at Waverly "W" Pool: 
Formal paddling skills classes are offered by CrawDaddy Outdoors at the Waverly "W" Pool. Visit the CrawDaddy Outdoors website for dates and details:  
We would be glad to publicize any additional off-season opportunities to develop or practice paddling and safety skills. Please forward your information to
What IWTA Newsletter Readers are Following & Recommending
RRWA 2016 Calendar Wht Baneberry Leland Searles
Photo of White Baneberry from Raccoon River WS Calendar.
Photo by Leland Searles.
IWTA does not advocate for positions on issues, but readers occasionally ask questions or share articles about issues which may be of interest or concern to other readers & WT supporters.  To balance IWTA neutrality, reader participation, and the exchange of potentially useful information, while minimizing the impact on IWTA Newsletter space, following are brief comments and links to items that your fellow readers find interesting:

Just announced: The 2016 Raccoon River Watershed Calendar is now selling at a reduced price of $18 per calendar, with price breaks at five and ten calendars. The 2016 Raccoon River Watershed Calendar is a great gift to yourself or another outdoor enthusiast. The fourth edition has entirely new photography and content, including a stunning prairie photo on the cover, by renowned Iowa photographer Ty Smedes, and an illustrated essay on streams called "The Shape of the River." It continues the concept of "phenology," the study of how climate and seasons affect the life cycles of plants and animals. As in the last two years, one dollar from each calendar helps fund the research and education fund of the Raccoon River Watershed Association (RRWA). Visit  or contact Leland Searles at 515-979-6457.

The Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) will release a State of the Waterways report in late January. The MPO continues to lead a planning effort for water trails and nearby greenways in Greater Des Moines. Over the last seven months the MPO team compiled information about the current state of our waterways and the priorities of community members. A draft of this report will go to the steering committee in January and the report will be released publicly later that month.

Iowa Environmental Council encourages you to "Save the Date" March 22 for the annual Environmental Lobby Day at the State Capitol.  Each year, organizations and individuals from across the state come together at the Iowa State Capitol to speak with legislators about the importance of protecting Iowa's natural resources at Environmental Lobby Day. Speaking face-to-face with legislators and showing that there is a broad base of support for a healthy environment is one of the most important ways to help advance programs and policies that protect Iowa's water, land and climate. More info at:

10th Annual Iowa Water Conference, March 23-24, announces agenda and program information.
 AtTENtion - EnlighTEN - InTENsify: TEN years of the Iowa Water Conference is set for Mar 23-24 in Ames, Iowa. The Iowa Water Conference is IWC's largest outreach and collaboration effort, designed to bring together multi-disciplinary organizations and institutions to discuss relevant water issues in Iowa. Inaugurated in 2006, today's conference draws nearly 400 attendees and still strives to encompass the whole of Iowa's water landscape including expanding into realms of education and outreach, conservation, policy and regulations. View the agenda and program information at: 
And get your cameras ready! The 2016 Iowa Water Conference Photo Contest is up and running, with an entry deadline of March 1, 2016. See the full rules at:

Want to be a Facilitator for the Master River Stewards Program?
Iowa Rivers Revival (IRR) is looking for a few dynamic river-loving facilitators for their Master River Stewards Program (MRSP).  If you and/or your organization or agency are interested in teaming with IRR to provide MRSP workshops to adults in your area, consider applying to attend the MRSP Train the Facilitator training on March 30 and 31, 2016, at the Fire Station in Webster City.
The Master River Stewards Program is an adult education program created and piloted by IRR with funding from a REAP-CEP grant and other donors. MRSP brings 32 hours of instruction to Iowans on watersheds, river and stream dynamics, river and riparian habitats and wildlife, river paddling and navigation, river chemistry and water monitoring, river and stream restoration and stewardship, and policies related to protecting river and stream water quality. Additional coursework includes group projects conducted by participants and a follow-up project-reporting meeting.
IRR will accept up to 20 people for this facilitator training. Applications are due December 31, 2015. Contact Roz Lehman, IRR Executive Director via email at or call 563-425-5233.  
Find information about the Master River Stewards Train-the-Trainer program, course content, and how to apply, at:

Photo courtesy IRR
Where Is It? Quiz ANSWER
Sabula Twd Main Channel Oct2015 G.Stark
View toward the main channel of the Mississippi River,
from the south shore of Sabula, Iowa's only "Island City."

Sabula is known as Iowa's only "Island City." While it has fewer than 600 residents, Sabula offers a great view of Mississippi River traffic, a beach & campground, a boat harbor with services, Bed & Breakfasts, a convenience store, pizzeria, and ice cream shop. Travelers on U.S. Hwy 64 cross the causeway and bridge between Sabula and Savanna, Illinois. Sabula makes an interesting starting or stopping point for paddling adventures on Pool 13 of the Mississippi River.

History of Sabula, according to Wikipedia:

"Sabula was established in 1835 when, according to legend, Isaac Dorman crossed the river from the Illinois side on a log and decided to settle on the present site of Sabula. Sabula is a name of Native American origin meaning "sand"; this refers to the sandy soil of the area.

"In the late 19th century the principal industries in the community included a large "pearl button" factory-which produced buttons from clam shells harvested from large clam beds located in the river adjacent to the shoreline
. (The factory is no longer there.) The thriving community also supported a large hog slaughtering industry.

Sabula Backchannel Oct2015 G.Stark
View down a backwater slot between an island and the Iowa bluff,
from the shore of South Sabula Lake Park.
"The community did not actually become an island until the lock and dam system was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers on the upper Mississippi in the 1930s. The construction of Lock and Dam #13 between Clinton, Iowa and Fulton, Illinois in 1939 left the lowlands west of the townsite permanently flooded, creating the "Island City," as the town is now known."

South Sabula Lake Park (Jackson County Conservation Board)

Located at the downstream tip of Sabula, this 14-acre park offers 39 campsites, showers, rest rooms, and a concrete boat ramp/public dock which provides easy access to South Sabula Lake and the main channel and backwaters of the Mississippi River. Access the park by driving south on Broad Street, which turns into South Avenue, and runs into the park. 

All 39 campsites have electricity, 25 have water hook-up, and all are available first-come-first-serve, no reservations. (Reservations may be possible for the 2016 season.) The park is generally open April 1--October 31, with the shower building open April 15-October 15 (weather and river level dictate opening/closing of park). The park is open to visitors 6:00 AM to 10:30 PM. Campers only after 10:30 PM.   More info and link to map at:

Sabula Campground Oct2015 G.Stark
Shady campsite in Jackson County's South Sabula Lake Park.

Photos by G.Stark 
WhatIsItWhat Is It? Quiz ANSWER

Sea Scorpion in Iowa
You may have seen the syndicated Washington Post article which appeared in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and elsewhere back in September: "Giant sea scorpion once ruled Iowa!" Scientists determined that the over 5 foot scorpion lived 460 million years ago, when Iowa was covered by an ocean.

The article noted that the the world's oldest specimen of sea scorpion had been discovered in an ancient meteor impact crater in Iowa. It turns out that the specimens came from Winneshiek Shale deposts along the Upper Iowa River near Decorah. (Further evidence that there are still fascinating discoveries to be made along our Iowa Water Trails.)

Lead study author and Yale University researcher James Lamsdell told the Associated Press, "This is the first real big predator. The new species is incredibly bizarre. The shape of the paddle -- the leg which it would use to swim -- is unique, as is the shape of the head. [The scorpion is] also big -- over a meter and a half long."

If you missed the AP/Washington Post article, visit:

If you would like to read more detail, see drawings of the scorpion and actual photos of the fossils, visit:

And if you want even more-technical details, visit:

We Hope That You Are Enjoying the "Award-Winning" IWTA Newsletter
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 participation. Thank you for your continuing support and encouragement.

Our special thanks to:
  • Readers who forwarded info about WT-related events around Iowa.
  • Readers who are already providing items for the IWTA 2016 Planning Calendar.
  • Readers who shared items they are reading, or otherwise found interesting.
  • Other groups who have added our IWTA Website link to their own website; we like to network!
We do our best to include all corrections, cancellations, and reschedules ASAP in our newsletters and other materials, but the most current info on events will probably always be the Events Calendar on the IWTA Website: 

Please continue to share your events, reports, ideas, quiz topics, suggestions, and corrections with us at
Constant Contact Award 2014

If you are not one of over 1,200 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