Author Archives: greggpaddle

Monthly Feature: Get acquainted with a Water Trail: Boone River

The Boone River Water Trail is described as a wild and intimate river flowing through a narrow, wooded corridor. It is an approximate 26 mile section in Hamilton County beginning in Webster City with six access points for put ins and take outs.

Described in “Paddling Iowa” as one of “Central Iowa’s best paddling streams”.

Classified: Non- Meandered Stream:

Non-Meandered means: land on both sides of river and river bed are privately owned, except where marked “public”. Please respect private property while using.

Skills: Intermediate level paddling skills recommended.

River drop: 3-9 feet per mile

Features:
Rock rapids, deep woods, narrow valleys, wooded bluffs, sandstone cliffs, fast and long riffle runs, runs mostly clear

Possible wildlife views of:
Great Blue Heron, Double Breasted Cormorant, Cliff Swallows, Hawks, Eagles, River Otters, Beaver, Mussels, and Shore Birds

Fishing: Catfish and Small mouth Bass

To learn more specific information, connect to these links. http://iowawatertrails.org

Brochures and maps: can be downloaded and paper copies can be picked up at assorted Conservation offices and Nature Centers.Go to https://www.iowadnr.gov/ for online viewing.

A good way to plan your trip is by using the IDNR Interactive Mapping Services resource.

Go to the IMS Guide for instructions on how to use the Interactive Mapping Services, or access the IMS directly by going to Recreation Map at https://www.iowadnr.gov/

Briggs Wood, Boone River
 Photo by Gregg Stark 

This Spring, Paddle a Restored Stretch of the Maquoketa River

By DNR Staff

Paddlers floating from Backbone State Park to Manchester this spring will discover a new segment of the Maquoketa River — 3,200 feet of brand-new channel — meandering through a grassy meadow before dropping down a class II-III rapids through a rocky gorge. The new section was excavated, constructed, and planted over two years and completed in late December, 2018.

As canoeists and kayakers wind through the new section of river, a bit of reflection is fine tribute to the private landowners who made the project possible. Willard and Marcia Hawker had owned the dam and most of the lake bed as private citizens since 1998, when they bought it from Alliant Energy. Originally, Willard was interested in the lake-like Quaker Mill Pond upstream of the dam becoming a waterfowl preserve.

The restored river replaces both the old Quaker Mill Dam and lake. In 2010, an
earthen portion of dam broke for the second time in two years. The pond had been
filling in with silt. Homeowners along it noticed floods seemed to be getting worse until
the dike breached, draining the floodwaters. The county engineer had concerns with the
route the river carved below the breach, where it diverted under a bridge for Honey
Creek, a county road bridge not designed for a stream as large as the Maquoketa River.

Willard, an avid outdoorsman who believed deeply in conservation, decided the dam
had served its purpose and it was time for change. He asked for help from Iowa DNR
river programs and fisheries. The DNR helped form a partnership among the
landowners, fish biologists, the Delaware County Engineer, and Iowa DNR to determine
what to do. After a year of survey and analysis and communication with neighbors at Delaware Board of Supervisors meetings, the partners decided to remove the dam,
excavate a pilot channel through the old lake bed, and close off the breached area to
send the river back where the high concrete dam had stood since 1914. It was all
less expensive than the county constructing a properly sized bridge, and had the
advantage of lowering the 100-year floodplain for neighboring landowners.

Full design, planning and permitting took several years. Hawker increasingly became concerned he might not live long enough to see the project he  had come to believe in. As phase 1 of the project began construction in 2017, he and Marcia could often be seen watching the dam removed from a prominent vantage point.

Meanwhile, Willard announced his intention to donate land for an access to Delaware
County Conservation Board, the sponsor of the county portion of the Maquoketa River
Water Trail. ” Willard kept telling us all the way through just to do the right thing and that he trustedus to get it right,” said Nate Hoogeveen, River Programs Coordinator for the Iowa
Department of Natural Resources. “This project reduced a dam hazard, allowed fish
passage, conserved surrounding land, restored the river, and added a new public
access for a new water trail.  It’s humbling to be a part of a project that responds to so
many of tomorrows hopes and dreams for our rivers. Even more so when you get to
work with an individual like Willard.”

Willard Hawker was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer during the holiday
season of 2018, just as the restoration project wrapped up. While in hospice, he
requested that word be sent to the DNR to make sure the final seeding was done in
time for spring. He passed away on Jan. 12, 2019, surrounded by family, at age 87.

Willard and Marcia Hawker

Lime Creek, Buchanan County Mussel Success Story

 
 Water quality improvements lead to mussels’ return, Lime Creek off state impaired waters list.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Hopkins, 515-725-8390 or Jennifer Kurth, 515-725-8381.BUCHANAN COUNTY – For Lime Creek, it’s a tale of two lists; it’s a story that moves from the state’s impaired waters list to the distinction of landing on the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The effort was also just recognized as a water quality success story by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The move took the work of the local Buchanan County community, and all hinged on the return of one valuable stream resident.

A survey of native freshwater mussel species in the creek in 1984 found nine different species. But by 1998 there were no live mussels found. With that, one segment of the stream was considered impaired for biological aquatic life.

Locals formed the Lime Creek Watershed Council and launched a watershed project in 2006, aiming to reduce the amount of silt and sediment washing off the land into the creek, as well as reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrates reaching the water.

The project focused on helping farmers and landowners use practices on the land to better hold sediment and nutrients on the land and keep them out of the creek. With a number of partners and funding sources, including the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the project helped locals reduce tillage, adjust crop rotations, change nutrient application and install grassed waterways.

More than half of residents in the Lime Creek watershed – the area of land that drains to the creek – participated in the project. After the project officially ended in 2009, locals kept it alive with voluntary practices and efforts.”Year after year, we’ve seen interest growing in cover crops and in other practices that improve soil health and water quality,” said farmer and conservation leader Dick Sloan of Rowley, who leads the Lime Creek Watershed Council.

As a result, 959 tons of sediment – that’s about 64 dump truck loads – no longer reach the creek each year. The work also reduced phosphorus levels in the creek by almost 1,500 pounds per year and nitrate-nitrogen levels in the creek dropped 19 percent.

Most importantly, because of the improved habitat, the mussels returned. A Statewide Mussel Survey in 2011, led by the DNR and funded by U.S. EPA Section 319, discovered six species of mussels where there were previously none. That includes three species considered threatened in Iowa.
“It’s especially impressive that the most common mussel we found in Lime Creek, the ellipse, is a threatened mussel,” said DNR biologist Jen Kurth, who led the survey. This led to Lime Creek coming off of the state’s impaired waters list in 2014.

Now, as one of Iowa’s Outstanding Waters, this scenic stretch of stream is well-known to visitors to Buchanan County Conservation’s Lime Creek Park and to Smallmouth bass anglers in the area.

To learn more about Lime Creek and its success story, visit the U.S. EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/nps/success-stories-about-restoring-water-bodies-impaired-nonpoint-source-pollution#iaWater quality improvements lead to mussels’ return, Lime Creek off state impaired waters list.
MEDIA CONTACT: Steve Hopkins, 515-725-8390 or Jennifer Kurth, 515-725-8381.

BUCHANAN COUNTY – For Lime Creek, it’s a tale of two lists; it’s a story that moves from the state’s impaired waters list to the distinction of landing on the Outstanding Iowa Waters list. The effort was also just recognized as a water quality success story by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The move took the work of the local Buchanan County community, and all hinged on the return of one valuable stream resident.

A survey of native freshwater mussel species in the creek in 1984 found nine different species. But by 1998 there were no live mussels found. With that, one segment of the stream was considered impaired for biological aquatic life.

Locals formed the Lime Creek Watershed Council and launched a watershed project in 2006, aiming to reduce the amount of silt and sediment washing off the land into the creek, as well as reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrates reaching the water.

The project focused on helping farmers and landowners use practices on the land to better hold sediment and nutrients on the land and keep them out of the creek. With a number of partners and funding sources, including the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board (WIRB) and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the project helped locals reduce tillage, adjust crop rotations, change nutrient application and install grassed waterways.

More than half of residents in the Lime Creek watershed – the area of land that drains to the creek – participated in the project. After the project officially ended in 2009, locals kept it alive with voluntary practices and efforts.”Year after year, we’ve seen interest growing in cover crops and in other practices that improve soil health and water quality,” said farmer and conservation leader Dick Sloan of Rowley, who leads the Lime Creek Watershed Council.

As a result, 959 tons of sediment – that’s about 64 dump truck loads – no longer reach the creek each year. The work also reduced phosphorus levels in the creek by almost 1,500 pounds per year and nitrate-nitrogen levels in the creek dropped 19 percent.

Most importantly, because of the improved habitat, the mussels returned. A Statewide Mussel Survey in 2011, led by the DNR and funded by U.S. EPA Section 319, discovered six species of mussels where there were previously none. That includes three species considered threatened in Iowa.
“It’s especially impressive that the most common mussel we found in Lime Creek, the ellipse, is a threatened mussel,” said DNR biologist Jen Kurth, who led the survey. This led to Lime Creek coming off of the state’s impaired waters list in 2014.

Now, as one of Iowa’s Outstanding Waters, this scenic stretch of stream is well-known to visitors to Buchanan County Conservation’s Lime Creek Park and to Smallmouth bass anglers in the area.

To learn more about Lime Creek and its success story, visit the U.S. EPA’s website: https://www.epa.gov/nps/success-stories-about-restoring-water-bodies-impaired-nonpoint-source-pollution#ia

 

 

 

 

Winter Iowa DNR Safety Tips “On the Ice”

Please Observe these Iowa DNR Safety Tips On the Ice:

  • No ice is 100 percent safe.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. 
  • Don’t go out alone – if the worst should happen, someone will be there to call for help or to help rescue.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Check ice thickness as you go out – there could be pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed.
  • Avoid off-colored snow or ice. It is usually a sign of weakness.
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.
  • Bring along these basic items to help keep you safe: hand warmers, ice cleats to help prevent falls, ice picks (wear around your neck) to help you crawl out of the water if you fall in, a life jacket, a floating safety rope, a whistle to call for help, a basic first aid kit and extra dry clothes including a pair of gloves.

 

December: Safety Tips On the Ice

Please Observe these Iowa DNR Safety Tips On the Ice:

  • No ice is 100 percent safe.
  • New ice is usually stronger than old ice. 
  • Don’t go out alone – if the worst should happen, someone will be there to call for help or to help rescue.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Check ice thickness as you go out – there could be pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed.
  • Avoid off-colored snow or ice. It is usually a sign of weakness.
  • The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.
  • Bring along these basic items to help keep you safe: hand warmers, ice cleats to help prevent falls, ice picks (wear around your neck) to help you crawl out of the water if you fall in, a life jacket, a floating safety rope, a whistle to call for help, a basic first aid kit and extra dry clothes including a pair of gloves.

 

Iowa Water Trail Association (IWTA)

 

Contact IWTA at iowawta@gmail.com

We continue to stress that Iowa Water Trails are not just for paddlers. Although paddlers are among the most visible & most frequent WT users, we would like to hear more from those of you who pursue archaeology, history, geology, angling, birding, photography, biology, etc. in any way related to our WT’s. The cooler months are a good time to draw the public to indoor events focus on any of these. Please contact us if you have an event, activity, or new special interest group to publicize.

It’s time to gather cold weather emergency gear in your vehicle. A few items can be very useful to you or others when facing a night in the vehicle, being stuck in a drift, or assisting an ice rescue. Among the items to consider are a shovel, jug of sand, sleeping bag, throw line, PFD, energy snacks, water, extra hats & gloves.

 

November Transitions Water Trail Activities

Mother Nature has spared us from more of that ongoing rain, rivers are receding to more normal levels, and farmers are harvesting where drainage allows. Warm-weather paddlers may hope to receive one more day suitable for a float. Drysuit paddlers continue on, and may already looking forward to a New Year’s Day float. In either case please observe safety guidelines for cold water/cold weather paddling.

November is a good time to gather cold weather emergency gear in your vehicle. A few items can be very useful to you or others when facing a night in the vehicle, being stuck in a drift, or assisting an ice rescue. Among the items to consider are a shovel, jug of sand, sleeping bag, throw line, PFD, energy snacks, extra hats & gloves.

Additional items for your November Checklist might include  Nov 4, Set clocks back 1 hour; Nov 4, Replace smoke alarm batteries; Nov 6, VOTE!; Nov 11-12, Fly our flag for Veterans Day; Check tire pressure due to lower temps; Winterize lawnmower; Test snowblower; Disconnect & drain outdoor hoses; and Ensure there is no water in your boats!

October Floats Bowing to Unusually Variable River Levels

Fall weather in Iowa continues to be interesting, to say the least. Mother Nature has helped us set several new records relating to total rainfall, days with rain, rivers at various flood stage levels.  Several October Fall Color Floats have been canceled. While some folks are still optimistic of lower water levels with enough sunshine and warmth for one more enoyable float, others are already wondering what we can expect for winter challenges.  Stay tuned. . .

As the end of 2018 comes into view, we have begun gathering info for our 2019 IWTA Planning Calendar. We welcome your input whenever you have firm, or even tentative info about 2019 events.

 

Mid September River Levels Unusually Variable

Some Iowa rivers have returned to normal levels, while others are still moving in that direction. The recent heavy rains, high water levels, and strong currents may have altered some channels, and may have created new sweepers, log jams, or other hazards. We understand that many of you are anxious to enjoy some fall paddling, but be certain your river is ready for paddlers, and be alert for changes along that river.

As we notified you last week, some events had to be canceled due to high water levels. Normal levels have returned to rivers in the north and west areas of Iowa, and levels continue to lower on rivers in the south and east. Depending on the size of their watershed, some rivers drop faster than others, and the longer and larger rivers take longer to clear.

River levels are receding toward normal levelsBirds are migrating. Monarchs are migrating. It’s September in Iowa, a great month to maximize our Iowa Water Trails visits by land or water. Mother Nature continues to alter our plans with occasional storms and fluctuating water levels, but we persevere.

September-Migrations, High Water, Event Cancellations

Linn County Conservation has canceled the three Voyageurs Canoe paddling opportunities and related activities scheduled Sep 7, 9, 10 due to high water levels on the Wapsipinicon River in Pinicon Ridge Park. Continuing rainfall and high river levels may impact additional events across Iowa–please plan accordingly.

Birds are migrating. Monarchs are migrating. It’s September in Iowa, a great month to maximize our Iowa Water Trails visits by land or water. Mother Nature continues to alter our plans with occasional storms and fluctuating water levels, but we persevere.

You might expect that WT-related events and activities would be slowing down at this point in the year, but the number of items in the Sep IWTA Newsletter indicates otherwise. September offers many opportunities to enjoy and support your Iowa WTs. Please note the heads-up to several Oct events, for which space may be limited, and preregistration may be required.

Just a reminder: Iowa Water Trails are not just for paddlers. Although paddlers are among the most visible and most frequent WT users, we would like to hear more from those of you who pursue archaeology, history, geology, angling, birding, photography, biology, etc. in any way related to our WTs. Please contact us if you have an event, activity, or new special interest group to publicize.