The new interactive paddling map displays any major river hazards the Iowa DNR knows or learns about. A major river hazard is typically one that requires walking your boat around (portaging) the obstruction. These could be river wide log jams, bridge construction projects where a coffer dam was built, or debris or hazardous materials in the water, etc. So before you go paddling this season be sure to check the map at http://www.iowadnr.gov/paddlingmap.
Realize, too, that major hazards can pop up anywhere without us knowing. In fact, most hazards we learn about come from paddlers who first encountered them. This map does not account for common or general hazards, and it’s always important to scout or be vigilant when paddling anywhere.
New Report of a River-wide Logjam on Upper Iowa
Just recently an Iowa paddler reported a river-wide logjam on the Upper Iowa River while paddling upstream of Kendallville. He described it well and explained how difficult it was to portage around it. It was located right around a bend in the river so he and his friends had very little time to respond. A couple of his friends were pulled under by the strainer, but managed to make it out okay. He also included a photo and Lat/Long coordinates. This was very helpful, as
I was able to quickly add the hazard to the map in less than 5 minutes.
Our default view or map extent shows dams in red squares and other major hazards in orange diamonds with white exclamation points.
Default View of DNR Interactive Paddling Map. Red circle and arrow shows location of river wide log jam on Upper Iowa River.
In order to learn more about the Upper Iowa River hazard, you can zoom in and click on the hazard icon:
Green Mill Ford Bridge Collapse
Earlier this year an historic bridge, the Green Mill Ford Bridge on the Cedar River (upstream of Janesville), washed out and remnants of the bridge created a number of hazards downstream for boaters. Debris from the bridge’s steel spans punctured a motor boat, and parts of the bridge have acted as strainers and obstacles in different areas. The emergency
management coordinator reached out to us and gave updated reports on the location of the debris, which we added to the interactive map. Try using the interactive paddling map on your own to locate those hazards on the Cedar River in Black Hawk County and review the photos and information for each location.
Cedar River upstream of Janesville in Black Hawk County
If you encounter a dangerous hazard, such as a river wide log jam, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to provide a detailed description of the hazard, the difficulty in avoiding or portaging around it. Also include photos and
location coordinates (latitude/longitude, UTM, etc).
If you’re new to using the interactive map, you can download instructions on how to use it here:
http://www.iowadnr/paddlingmap. Click on “Interactive Paddling Map – How To”—as shown below.
Yes, we all get the “spring fidgets”. It was such a long and brutal winter and some of the coolness continues to hang on. Since it will be a few weeks before water temps get to a safe level, this is a good time to review a few safety tips from the Iowa DNR. There are paddlers out now but thankfully most are wearing proper clothing including wetsuits when needed and many of them are seasoned paddlers with decent boat control skills. Let this review be not only for them, but more importantly, for all of the newer paddlers that come on board every year after discovering the beauty and abundance of places to paddle in Iowa. Paddling is an inherently dangerous activity but can be much safer by following simple guidelines.
1. Before you head out on the water for your first trip of the year, make sure you check your canoe or kayak for any needed repairs or maintenance after being stored for several months. Check for holes and leaks, make sure all hatch lids fit snug and securely and check your paddle blades for signs of cracking or splitting.
2. Dust off your lifejacket and make sure all buckles and zippers work properly and examine for holes and tears. If there is damage that cannot be repaired, replace the lifejacket. Wearing a lifejacket will only protect you if worn and secured properly. A lifejacket should be worn at all times while on the water, regardless of your swimming ability. Remember, it is law that you have a lifejacket in your kayak or canoe or even on your paddleboard at ALL times. You can be cited for this. That said, if it is not worn, what good is it really going to do? If using it as a butt cushion, think again. If stowing it under deck rigging or behind the seat, you might want to re-evaluate. The life jacket will NOT be there when you need it. It will be flying down river with the rest of your unsecured items. Wear the life jacket. If not for you, maybe for your family.
3. Water temperatures are still cool and with water and air still colder on several days, there has been little opportunity of water warming up much. It could be several weeks before that ideal temperature is in place. Do NOT wear cotton. As the water heats up over the next several weeks, you’ll be able to adjust your clothing needs. Regardless of weather, always take a dry bag with a set of extra clothes for changing into. You can include a first-aid kit and a protected cell phone or weather radio. Remember, dress for water immersion not the air temperature. Don’t forget to take plenty of water and stay hydrated. Paddling can be physically demanding at times so stretching before entering your boat can help prevent injuries.
4. Be sure to file a “float plan” with a friend or loved one. This plan is as simple as telling someone when and where you are going and when you are expected to return. Should you need assistance, it will be easier to find you.
5. A word about HAZARDS: Be very aware of changing conditions while on the water, especially while paddling our many rivers. After snowmelt and heavy rains, water levels can rise quickly and produce strong and fast current. “Strainers” are numerous on most rivers, especially after high water events. A “strainer” can be a pile of tree limbs and debris, usually found on the outside of river bends where they continue to collect and pile up. The rivers current can take you directly towards the deadly “strainer” and without proper boat control skills; a paddler can be sucked in and held underwater with little chance of escape. A “sweeper” is found above the water’s surface and can be a tree that is ready to fall into the river. Hanging tree limbs can knock a paddler out of their boat or even grab them by the lifejacket or clothing and not let go.
Always be aware of where low head dams are on the river you are paddling. Watch for warning signs as well as signs telling you where and when to get off the river and portage. Put back in well downstream of the low head dam. The hydraulics of the dam will not let you escape as the turbulence of the water will be strong enough to keep pulling a person and their boat under the water over and over again. NEVER go over a low head dam. They are called drowning machines for a reason.
As the summer arrives, you will encounter more water traffic especially on the larger rivers and lakes. Jet skis, motorboats, water skiers and anglers can all be found on water when the weather is nice and you’ll have to follow proper navigation laws and practice good behavior and river etiquette. Give everyone plenty of room and use manners. If a “wake” is approaching your boat, remember to point the front of your boat into the wave and not get sideways. This will prevent your boat from tipping when the wave strikes.
Finally, you can review reported real-time hazards by visiting the paddler’s interactive map on the Iowa DNR website: Interactive Paddling Map This can also be used for all things related to trip planning. Check it out and explore the tools! It can also be found at
Fishing boaters and paddlers should use extreme caution if navigating the Cedar River between Waverly and Janesville, where ice jams destroyed the Green Mill Ford Bridge in mid-March.
The remaining debris has traveled down river and clearing it could take some time, according to the Bremer County Emergency Management System. Temporary buoys have been placed on the river and signs mark areas to avoid. Most of the bridge deck has been located, with some sections found nearly two miles downstream from where the bridge once stood. Steel and bridge pilings are also visible.
On April 5, two anglers in a fishing boat struck some debris that punctured the boat and caused it to leak. Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs outreach coordinator, said the anglers were fortunate to get the boat to shore safely.
“But results can be tragic if boaters, regardless of their swimming skills and experience, get caught in the debris after being thrown into the water,” Robertson said.
Strong current, combined with the debris stretching from the old bridge site downstream up to a few miles, will require strong boat control and navigation skills to safely get through this area of the Cedar River.
Media Contact: Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator at 515-243-3714.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will release 14 trumpeter swans at three locations in southwest Iowa as part of the effort to create a self-sustaining population of swans south of Interstate 80. All releases will occur rain or shine.
- Six swans will be released on the north side of Lake Icaria at the east boat ramp on May 9 at 9:30 a.m., in partnership with the Adams County Conservation Board.
- Two swans will be released at Viking Lake near the restaurant/beach area on May 9 at 1 p.m.
- Six swans will be released at Lake Anita on May 10 at 1:30 p.m., in partnership with the Cass County Conservation Board.
These releases are part of the Iowa DNR’s statewide effort to restore trumpeter swans to Iowa that began in 1993. Trumpeter swans were once common in Iowa, but were gone from the state by the late 1880s. By the early 1930s, only 69 trumpeter swans remained in the lower 48 states.
It takes six years, on average, before trumpeter swans successfully nest. Last year, Iowa was home to 54 pairs of nesting trumpeter swans; however, only two of those nesting pairs were south of I-80. Dave Hoffman, wildlife research technician with the Iowa DNR, said the goal is to raise that number to eight, which would likely create a self-sustaining population.
“We are hopeful to get them nesting here in a year or two,” Hoffman said. “We had swans displaying some territorial signs at Lake Icaria, which is encouraging.”
As the largest North American waterfowl, these all-white birds can weigh up to 32 pounds and have an 8-foot wingspan. The trumpeter swans being released are young and flightless and will imprint on the area where they learn to fly, returning each year as open water is available. The swans were donated to the project from zoos in Cleveland, Kansas City, Green Bay, Wis., Oklahoma City, Bronx, Anchorage, Alaska and Maryland.
Each event includes a swan and wetland presentation, an opportunity to touch and view the swans up close, and a photo opportunity with the kids. Staff from the Kansas City Zoo will be on hand offering educational activities, and filmmaker Steve Harryman may be at these releases collecting footage for an upcoming documentary “Return of the Trumpeter Swans, in partnership with the Trumpeter Swan Society.
For more information, contact David Hoffman at David.Hoffman@dnr.iowa.gov or 641-425-0737.
DES MOINES- Iowa groups looking for help implementing innovative, regional and locally led Clean Water Awareness and Education Campaigns can apply for funding from the Iowa DNR Watershed Improvement Section.
Through a grant program, the DNR looks for proposals that clearly demonstrate an ability to put in place innovative, targeted, impactful and sustainable Clean Water Awareness and Education Campaigns.
The DNR seeks to award grants to eligible local entities to develop and implement locally led Clean Water Awareness and Education programs. Educational campaigns will improve public knowledge of and promote actions to reduce non-point source pollution and improve water quality. The DNR seeks projects that will use innovative methods for reaching diverse audiences and stakeholder groups.
Campaigns must be achievable in the grant’s 18-month time frame and within the funding amount requested.
Applications are due by close of business May 31. Successful applicants will be awarded contracts beginning no later than Oct. 15, 2019, and ending no later than Apr. 30, 2021 (18 months).
These grants were developed after the DNR contracted with the University of Northern Iowa to survey Iowa’s residents in 2015 to measure their knowledge of water quality and identify potential behavior changes. This is the next step in the Non-point Source Management Plan. (For more details, see Objective 2.5 of Goal 2 of Iowa’s Non-point Source Management Plan and the results of the survey).
The survey will be repeated when grant-based educational campaigns are completed to track progress. The first round of Education Campaign contracts were awarded in Dec. 2018 and projects are ongoing.
Monticello – The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host a public open house and meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m., April 4, at the Durgin Pavilion at Camp Courageous, near Monticello, to discuss the future of the Mon-Maq Dam and Maquoketa River.
“The Maquoketa River from Monticello to Pictured Rocks Park is a Midwest regional destination with the scenic canyon the river flows through,” said Nate Hoogeveen, Iowa DNR River Programs Director. “People visit from as far as Chicago. The future of this river is important to locals and Iowans more broadly… we’ve received e-mails from as far away as Indianola concerning this project.”
Jones County Conservation board owns the dam, and is studying it for modifications that would reduce safety hazards and eliminate barriers to fish movement. Options could include removing the dam, replacing it with rapids, leaving much of the dam in place, or leaving the dam as it is.
Design options and results of Monticello-area focus groups and Jones County mail-in surveys to date will be presented at the meeting, along with an opportunity for the public to express their comments and concerns and ask questions.
The first half hour of the meeting will be an open house from 6:00-6:30 p.m. The public will be able to talk with the project consultant and project participants about design alternatives, dam history, dam safety, fish passage/river ecology, and recreational interests.
Any person attending the public meeting and has special requirements such as those related to mobility or hearing impairments should contact the DNR or ADA Coordinator at 515-725-8200, Relay Iowa TTY Service 800-735-7942, or Webmaster@dnr.iowa.gov, and advise of specific needs.
Find more information about the Mon-Maq Dam at http://www.iowawhitewater.org/lhd/ LHDmonmaq.htmlor. or https://friendsmonmaqdam.com/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
The Iowa DNR has an active and ready for use interactive paddling map that helps with trip planning, getting directions, and just exploring rivers from your desktop. Go to https://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Where-to-Paddle to view it. You can also download a PDF that offers detailed instructions on how to use the map at this same page.
Last year a number of bridge construction projects located on popular stretches of river created barriers to navigation. Projects, to name a few, were reported at North Trailhead Access on the West Fork of the Des Moines River, just downstream of Bever’s Bridge Access on the Boone River, and at I-35 on the South Skunk River. These projects employ coffer dams that behave no differently from a typical low-head dam so it became critical to get the word out. A one-time press release just wasn’t enough, as some of these projects are under construction throughout the paddling season.
The River Programs utilized ESRI’s ArcGIS Online tools and functionality to deploy an online interactive map to display river data so it could be used in relation to these temporary hazards. While some data have discrepancies, the team continues to improve data quality and add more functionality to the map. It’s a work in progress, but offers a lot of information to assist paddlers in trip planning or exploring Iowa’s rivers.
All features of the map are clickable, providing more information. You can click on river or portage lines to get distances, or click on access symbols to find out maximum slope or the number of parking spaces. You can also change the map under the data (basemap) from a topo map to aerial photo coverage-there are more than six different maps to choose from. Lastly, you can get street directions between two or more points, which makes it easy to determine your shuttle route.
There is more to come. As we improve the quality of the data with the help of field workers and volunteers, we will also add more functionality, like the ability to print maps and add stream gauge information. If you’d like to assist the DNR in making our data more accurate and useful, please contact:John Wenck, DNR Water Trails Coordinator at email@example.com or 515-725-8465.
Sure. You may be delighted those frigid temperatures are a thing of the past. But in a wet year, the low temperatures from January through March kept water levels low enough in rivers around Iowa to get contractors moving on dam removal and mitigation projects statewide. These projects were each years in the making, and the latest wave of them will change how Iowans recreate and navigate. Here’s a run-down:
This project replaces the River Valley Park Dam with a divided channel, half for whitewater waves and half for fishing and fish passage. It also preserves the dams water supply function.
Fort Dodge (2 dams)
Little Dam (also called Lower Dam) was removed in February, completing the project. Paddlers can safety float from the Phinney Park Access on Lizard Creek down to Dolliver State Park unimpeded, and fish can move freely as needed as far upriver to the remaining portion of Hydroelectric Dam. A rocky bed was uncovered in this area.
Hydroelectric Dam, formerly a 16-high dam, is removed down to a few feet high through summer, when it is expected to be completely removed. The removal is staged into 2 steps in order to prevent all sediment in the impoundment from being released at the same time. HOWEVER, recirculating currents will continue to be a safety hazard remaining portion of the dam until the dam is fully removed because the dam’s height will still be about 5 feet. All boaters should avoid the stretch between the Hydroelectric Park Access and mouth of Lizard Creek until the rest of the dam can be removed – most likely later this summer.
Speaking of that first stage of removal, check out this time lapse video:
Quaker Mill Dam
Phase 2 of the project was completed this winter and the Maquoketa River takes a meandering course through the former bed of the Quaker Mill Pond.
The Littleton Dam on the Wapsipinicon River is completely removed. High water after ice-out prevented completion of the rock arch rapids that will take the place of the dam, and contractors will resume work after flows are reasonable for work to be done.
Blanding’s Turtle crossing the road. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for protecting America’s wildlife from poaching, illegal commercialization and other kinds of wildlife crime. While our special agents and wildlife inspectors within the Office of Law Enforcement work with our federal, state and tribal conservation partners across the country to investigate these crimes, we also depend on tips from concerned citizens. People just like you step up and share information that helps us protect everything from native turtles and pallid sturgeon to bald eagles and white-tailed deer. Help us close the next case and you may be eligible for a monetary reward.
Wildlife crime is much more than elephant ivory and rhino horns. America’s native plants and animals need your help across the country. While it’s true that we are actively fighting illegal commercialization, commonly referred to as wildlife trafficking, wildlife crime is far more domestic than you may realize. It can happen in your local parks, wildlife refuges and even on your own land. Many of our law enforcement investigations are solved because people who see unlawful activities reach out to us or their local game warden. In tandem to this community effort, we established the use of financial rewards to people who provide critical information. This program allows us to thank everyday people who help us investigate and stop these crimes, all while protecting their anonymity in the process.
Be situationally aware and trust your gut when things just don’t seem right. This happened to a woman in Minnesota while she was on a bike ride and saw someone putting Blanding’s turtles in their trunk. She knew that these mild-mannered turtles are protected and extremely vulnerable during breeding season as they move to nesting habitat to lay eggs. She reported the vehicle’s license plate number and other identifiable information to an officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and her tip ultimately helped to uncover a multi-state, illegal trafficking scheme based in Wisconsin. The man involved pleaded guilty to a felony Lacey Act violation, served time in prison and paid heavy fines. During the investigation, officers recovered an incubator with 120 native map, painted and softshell turtle eggs that he had illegally collected in the wild. This wildlife trafficker also left an incriminating digital footprint, using online retailers to traffic additional wild reptile and amphibian species. Just one person speaking for a couple of turtles made a positive impact on local wildlife. In this case, we were able to recognize her contributions with a $1,500 reward through the Lacey Act Reward Account, all while maintaining her anonymity. You can remain anonymous when reporting.
Know the law:
Another way you can help is by knowing the laws that protect wildlife. Migratory birds native to the U.S., including their nests and eggs, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which dates back to 1918. Knowing what’s in season under state and tribal law is important too, because poaching isn’t the only wildlife crime, hunting out of season and falsifying records are also criminal offenses. Ethical hunters and anglers respect the biological reasoning behind bag limits and speak up when something doesn’t seem right.
Do you have a wildlife crime to report?
If you believe you have information related to a wildlife crime, email or call us with information about where and when it occurred, along with what you witnessed. Include any photos or videos you may have.
How to report a wildlife crime:
If you think you’re witnessing a crime in progress, maintain a safe distance and protect yourself.
Make use of your cell phone and take photos or videos, if you can do so safely.
Write down any information about the person committing the crime, including any vehicle information, what you witnessed and where the event took place.
If you suspect that someone is trafficking in wildlife online, include the full website URL and take screen captures of the potentially illegal sale. Send us an email with all related information or call us using the FWS TIPs line at 1-844-FWS-TIPS (1-844-397-8477).
Please discuss the possibility of a reward with the special agent receiving your information.
Together, we can make a positive difference in the health of America’s fish, wildlife and iconic habitats.
Learn more about the federal conservation laws that guide our law enforcement work on behalf of America’s fish and wildlife. For more information, contact https://www.fws.gov/
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.