The annual River Town of the Year award 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.
The River Town of the Year award highlights a city’s outstanding work to enhance connections to its river. For example, Dubuque was honored for making the Mississippi the heart of a remarkable cultural, environmental, and economic renaissance over the last two decades. Central City used the Flood of 1999 as a crucial turning point and now features recreation, tourism and economic development related to the Wapsipinicon River. Charles City was honored for responding to severe floods in 1999 and 2008 “by embracing the Cedar River with new ideas and bold projects,” including transforming a low-head dam into Iowa’s first whitewater kayak course and installing the state’s largest permeable paving system. Applicants must demonstrate commitment to protecting and maintaining river water quality and promoting the river as an asset to the town.
Other activities could include: dam-safety efforts, river-oriented tourism efforts, river clean-up projects, Water Trail designation projects, innovative storm water and river protection projects, walking trails along the river, education and advocacy by local river or watershed groups, and efforts for river use and appreciation (restaurants, bed & breakfasts, bait shops, boat rentals).