Not Just For Paddlers


Photo by South Dakota Game Fish and Parks; Sam Stuke



Iowa’s waterways have been a focal point for area inhabitants through thousands of years of pre-history, the period of European settlement, and conversion to modern agriculture. Early cultures relied on these streams, winding across the prairie, for drinking water, bathing, fishing, transportation, and trading. Early European settlers emulated many of the Native American practices, but added the industrial technology of water-powered mills, commercial fishing & clamming, and where possible, navigation by larger boats. Native American villages gave way to permanent  towns, and eventually cities, at key points of transportation and trade.

Today, almost all of the prairie is a memory, and our streams wind through a quilt of corn and soybean fields. While they often struggle for respect and protection from a variety of environmental pressures, these streams and their river valleys continue to provide ribbons of habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Iowa’s rivers have also found renewed interest as a source of human recreation. They obviously appeal to paddlers, but also to anglers, outdoor photographers, historians, and hobbyists or citizen-scientists interested in archaeology, geology, biology, ornithology, environmental science, etc. The riparian environment provides a great learning lab for engaging our next generation.



Bur Oak Pocket Guides:                                                                                                                       Handy format includes laminated guides for archaeology, geology, ornithology, trees, wildflowers, butterflies, moths, reptiles, birds, fish, insects, gems, minerals, etc.

Iowa Outdoors Magazine:                                                                                                             Published by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, this bi-monthly magazine, filled with beautiful photographs, highlights things to do and places to visit in the great Iowa outdoors.



Iowa DNR Fishing Website:                                                                                                              Includes regulations, licenses, “Where to Fish,” fishing maps, fish species, trout fishing, and general fishing tips.                                                                           

Interactive Fishing Atlas, Iowa DNR:                                                                                               Provides underwater topographical maps for many fishing spots across the state.

Iowa Fish Species, Iowa DNR.                                                                                                         Pictures, range maps, and general information about the 148 fish species found in Iowa.



Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA):
Programs, events, speakers, research & excavation updates, links to numerous resources.

State Historical Society of Iowa:                                                                                                    Trustee of Iowa’s historical legacy since 1857. Preserves and provides access to Iowa’s historical resources through statewide programs, exhibitions, projects, a museum, and 8 historic sites.



Iowa Wildlife Diversity Program, Iowa DNR:                                                                                     Serves the vast majority of wildlife species in Iowa not hunted, trapped, or fished–sometimes called “nongame” wildlife. This includes shorebirds, raptors, songbirds, many small mammals and bats, most amphibians, reptiles, many small fish, butterflies, dragonflies and more.

Fish Species of Iowa, Iowa DNR:                                                                                                                Pictures, range maps, and general information about the 148 fish species found in Iowa.     

HerpNet – Field Guide to Iowa Reptiles & Amphibians:                     

Insects of Iowa Website:                                                                           

Iowa Odes, Dragonflies and Damselflies: 

Freshwater Mussels of Iowa:                                                                                                                 2002 document by IDNR, Environmental Protection Agency, Cedar Valley RC&D.

Iowa Fungi Website, Iowa State University:                                                                               Assists in the identification and study of fungi.

Trees Forever:                                                                                                                     Helps community volunteers, civic leaders, government officials and landowners to plant and care for more trees, shrubs, and native grasses and plants , promoting the value and importance of our natural areas for future generations to enjoy.



Iowa Audubon Society:
Statewide organization with 12 local chapters, works to identify birds, protect & restore habitat, and educate Iowa’s citizens. Info and links to local chapters.

Iowa Ornithologists’ Union:
Iowa bird info, sightings, etc.



Iowa Amateur Camera Club Directory:                                                                                                 Many clubs provide training sessions, mentoring, and inspiration to photographers of all levels.

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