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!
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