River News and Views (Best viewed in Classic mode on mobile devices)
Canoe Van Buren (July 14-15, 2007) and the new river trail. Ribbon cutting at 8 am at Selma city park. It was a great event, 132 paddlers and at least that many volunteers. I enjoyed every one of the 41 miles.
The "sweet smelling" outhouses at Bentonsport and Farmington are amazing, the bridge signs are a model for the whole state, and the kiosks are classic Van Buren. The colorful water trail signs are at many of the accesses. The Villages of VB are at their best, it was great to see Conservation Board and County Supervisors at the ribbon cutting. Nate from the DNR was also there with a certificate recognizing the 41 miles of river as an official DNR water trail.
The weekend of a lifetime.
July 4, 2007--It was a hot day for a run from Pleasant Hill to Runnells, 16 miles. I had 10 miles of good current, then I ran into high water from Red Rock and the current just about stopped. Good exercise. Bald eagles, herons and egrets were out and about. The former access at Hartford is a memory, just gone. The new access at Pleasant Hill at Hwy. 65 and Vandalia was blocked off to trailers. It was busy at Yellow Banks, after that I had things to myself. The tow car system is alive and well, and the Runnells Access is in good shape.
I got out on the river this week, used the tow car system and paddled the 2 miles from Prospect to Birdland in Des Moines. The river is really high, but not flooding yet.
The dam owners conference was well attended, with great information on water trails, river restoration, and the plans for the downtown whitewater course, plus an interesting presentation on dam safety. The reception for Luther Aadland was also well received in Boone-many were catching on to the possibilities of river restoration and improved safety and fishing at the Boone waterworks dam.
I had the pleasure of visiting Douds, Iowa yesterday. I'm pleased to announce that the new boat ramp has been completed. This means that there will be a nice 5 mile run from Selma to Douds, and that the run to Austin Park in Van Buren County will be about 11 miles.
This was a hard fought victory. The Van Buren County foks had problems with funding, then a battle to establish clear title, then working through a DNR grant. The water trail in Van Buren County has come a long way and the Trails Association deserves a lot of credit.
There is a major event coming through this summer. The 2007 River Rumble, with almost 100 paddlers, will start in Selma IA and run 7 days down to Hannibal MO (July 28-August 7). For more info see:
Beware: Reading the following will make you morally responsible to help in the fight to convert hundreds of dangerous low head dams to safed, tapered rock rapids. The DNR and DOT need to get on the stick and stop subjecting Iowa paddlers and anglers to these unnecessary killers. The establishment of 2 portage trails in Adel and Boone is a good step in the right direction.
I have now been made aware of the "Reconnect the Red" effort in MN and ND, in which low head dams are being converted to man-made rapids. I have spoken with Luther Aadland of the MN DNR, who has worked on dams as small as 100 ft. wide and up to 400 ft. wide. He is also working on bypasses of the lock and dam system on the Mississippi. According to Luther, even large dams such as Saylorville and Red Rock can be retrofitted for paddlers and fish habitat restoration.
Rock rapids dams are in place in dozens of areas in MN, SD and ND. Iowa now has one at Story City. This is the basic design that I first brought to the attention of Iowa officials in 2002. I actually went to Wahpeton, ND and paddled over the rock arch rapids at a dam that had been a death trap for decades.
I've been on a river or lake more than 200 times in the past 10 years. Until 2006, I had paddled at least once every month since April of 1997. It has been fun, and now I'm an ex-avid paddler. I will still work for water trails and dam safety, but others have taken up the cause and I support them.