Upper Iowa River Alliance hopes to educate river users with new Upper Iowa River paddler's guide

Paddler's guide for Upper Iowa River now available ... Members of the Upper Iowa River Alliance display the new paddler's guide for the Upper Iowa River recently published and distributed for use by Upper Iowa River users. Pictured, left to right, are Barb Schroeder, Lora Friest, Val Reinke, MJ Hatfield, Josh Dansdill, Kirsten Heine and Dixie Hutchinson. Submitted photo.

The Upper Iowa River Alliance (UIRA) has announced the development and recent publication of a new paddler’s guide for the Upper Iowa River. The pocket-sized guide provides a detailed map of the “floatable” portions of the Upper Iowa River from Chester to the Mississippi River and provides an in-depth look at five segments of the river on larger-scale maps.

This publication was the first major project completed by the Upper Iowa River Alliance, a non-profit formed to “promote, protect and enhance the Upper Iowa River.” The diverse group of stakeholders belonging to the Upper Iowa River Alliance gathered and provided input to ensure both experienced and novice river users would find the guide convenient and informative. In addition to the maps, it highlights the locations of all publicly owned river accesses, local amenities, safety information, canoe and kayak rental options, distance between accesses, native wildlife, and rules and regulations.

UIR Alliance Chair Kirsten Heine noted that the group also wanted to brand the Upper Iowa River as a beautiful natural area where landowners and the public respect each other. She stated, “The Upper Iowa River is a tremendous resource for our region. The UIRA wants to facilitate the much needed dialogue about the river and its legacy.

The canoe guide is the first step in creating a new land-ethic and stewardship voice on behalf of the river. It also illustrates how wonderfully all of the various entities involved in the river’s place in our community can work together. I am so honored to be working with this group of people to ensure the river’s health and vitality.”

Val Reinke, director of Allamakee County Economic Development and member of the Upper Iowa River Alliance, noted, “Our office has been busy distributing these guides to our outlets and directly to interested visitors.  Visitors are finding the pocket-size edition with section maps to be quite handy.” The guide is available at local tourism and economic development offices, chambers of commerce, county conservation offices, and online at northeastiowarcd.org.

Lora Friest, executive director of Northeast Iowa RC&D, said, “The thing that’s so special about this project was the number of partners who came together to make it happen.  Their contributions demonstrate an understanding of the connection between our natural resources and economic development as well as an appreciation for and understanding of the needs of both landowners and river users.”

Northeast Iowa RC&D provided project coordination, cartography and graphic design services. Other major partners include: Allamakee County Economic Development & Tourism Office, Allamakee County Community Foundation, the Depot Outlet, Howard County Conservation Board, Howard County Community Foundation, the Iowa Department of Transportation-Iowa Byways Sustainability Project and the Driftless Area Scenic Byway, as well as the Winneshiek County Community Foundation, Winneshiek County Conservation Board and the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

For more information, contact Josh Dansdill at 563-864-7112 or email him at josh@northeastiowarcd.org.

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