Project AWARE Kickoff!

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Project AWARE skh

As part of the Kick Off to the 14th Annual Project AWARE on July 11th, the Iowa DNR will officially designate (as a state water trail) the small segment of the Des Moines River that connects the city of Eldon with Selma as it meanders through Wapello, Davis, and Van Buren counties.  This new 4.7-mile segment adds to the already state-designated 38-mile water trail on the Des Moines River in Van Buren County.  This will bring the total state designated water trail miles in Iowa to 921!   Come JOIN US on the river!

HIGH RES Figure_18-01

For the past two years the DNR and others have been intently gathering information and studying several waterways from the following perspectives: physical, environmental, wildlife, recreational, historical, cultural and social.  The information gathered from the Lower Des Moines River moved us to add this small segment to the existing water trail.  There are a number of cultural sites in close proximity to it, including the American Gothic House in Eldon and the largest known Iowa Indian village site known to exist. The city of Eldon is also excited about the prospect and committed to maintaining and managing its river access as a water trail access. 

While it’s exciting to finally be adding to the column of state designated water trail miles, this designation ceremony also celebrates an important milestone in the history of Iowa’s water trails program.  This project and several others have either completed or are completing the existing conditions phase and moving into the master planning phase, which includes working closely with local communities to develop designs for prioritized infrastructure projects (new or improved accesses, parking, amenities, camping facilities, etc.).  This phase also identifies goals for interpretation, conservation, and river restoration components.  We’ve learned that establishing a solid base of information while engaging with the local communities sets the stage for future innovative and sound development.

~John Wenck, Iowa DNR Watertrails Coordinator

Introduction to River Restoration in Northeast Iowa

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Join IRR for one of two Introduction to River Restoration with along with Iowa DNR fisheries staff and other local agencies. There will be several site visits as part of the field component for the workshops including sites along the Turkey and Maquoketa Rivers to observe examples of in-progress or completed river restoration projects and examples of best practices.

Natural river restoration can be an affordable and practical solution for addressing streambank erosion issues across Iowa. Eroding streambanks can mean the loss of crop buffer areas, productive farmland, and local infrastructure. In addition, streambank erosion is a major contributor to sediment and nutrients in our water. Understanding river dynamics can lead to much more cost-effective, fish and wildlife friendly solutions to these problems. River restoration also enhances aquatic ecosystems and improves river recreation, fishing, and hunting — boosting local economies and providing public health and quality of life.

These workshops are geared toward landowners, natural resource professionals, engineers, paddlers, anglers, local NRCS and RC&D agencies, county conservation employees and other interested individuals who want to learn in a classroom setting AND get out and explore.

Registration: There is no fee to participate, but advanced registration is recommended due to limited space. Please RSVP by emailing





Own an Original Piece of Artwork!

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Original artwork by Pam Dennis and Ryk Weiss
                                      Original artwork by Pam Dennis and Ryk Weiss

IRR had the unique opportunity to help make and later acquire this unique piece of art made from found items from river cleanups and clay fish created by artists Pam Dennis and Ryk Weiss and guests at last year’s Hinterland music festival.

The piece is currently on display at Confluence Brewery and you can bid online to make it yours!   This piece is a reminder that all of us are connected to the rivers and we all can help protect, restore and enjoy them.

Bidding closes on May 31st at 4:00 PM. We’ll be meeting at Confluence at 5:00 PM to announce the winner!  (Need not be present to win)

Please consider placing a bid or donating to IRR and join us at Confluence for brews and networking!

All proceeds go to Iowa Rivers Revival to continue working hard for water quality, Iowa rivers and ALL OF YOU!


Powerful Examples and Guidance for Modifying Dangerous Dams!

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Turkey River at Vernon Springs, Howard County, Iowa
                                   Turkey River at Vernon Springs, Howard County, Iowa

Iowa has 177 low-head dams in 57 of the state’s  99 counties. “Low-head” dams span the river and are less then 20 feet high (many just 2-5 feet high).  The dams often are deceptively dangerous “drowning machines.”  Since 1900, at least 163 people have been killed in the deadly recirculating currents that form below these dams — 31 since 1998.  The drop below the dam can be nearly invisible from upstream, and the treacherous “boil” below the dam can appear harmless.

Dams also block the movement of fish and other aquatic life up and down rivers, harm the health and biodiversity of Iowa’s rivers, require costly repairs, and pose major liability concerns.

Iowa Rivers Revival is distributing “Iowa Low-head Dam Modification Success Stories” booklet this week to more than 800 recipients around Iowa – especially to communities, public officials, and private owners related to the 177 low-head dams remaining in Iowa.  The booklet  includes stories and details of 13 low-head dam modifications in towns across Iowa — 12 since 2010.  Stories include local partners and decision-making, cost of modification, funding sources, design features and photos.  The booklet also discusses the history of low-head dams in Iowa, benefits of dam modification, sources of planning assistance, and a guide for community action.  Dam modification success stories included in the booklet are dams at Boone, Charles City, Elkader, Goldfield, Klondike Mill (Lyon Co.), Manchester, North Washington (Chickasaw Co.), Quaker Mill (Delaware Co.), Quasqueton, Rockford, Story City, Vernon Springs (Howard Co.), and Warner’s Ford (Allamakee Co.).

The new booklet also is available for free by download here.

“River Town of the Year” Ice Cream Social

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You are cordially invited to attend a reception hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival:

 “River Town of the Year” Ice Cream Social – honoring Clinton, Iowa

Each year, Iowa Rivers Revival presents the “River Town of the Year” Award to an Iowa river community that demonstrates a commitment “to reclaiming the waterfront as an anchor for economic development, recreation, and ecological practices, as well as addressing some of the challenges and solutions related to water quality.”

Clinton richly deserves to be named “River Town of the Year.”  IRR commends the vision and efforts of Clinton officials and citizens to enhance the city’s connections with the Mighty Mississippi River, and to improve water quality.

Monday, April 4, 2016, 3:00-4:00 p.m. – Program c. 3:15 p.m.
Legislative Dining Room G15, Lower Level of the State Capitol

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