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Iowa DNR River Programs is offering a new opportunity for site planning and work crew assistance. This will be an ongoing opportunity with a deadline of February 28th every year to help groups with a variety of low-tech projects in Iowa.

arrow See more on the Iowa State Rivers and Trails Program


Iowa sponsors Water Trails Site Planning and Work Crew

map of Iowa showing many rivers

More water trails under development across iowa (Click to enlarge map)

A water trails work crew will be available for a variety of well-designed, low-tech projects in Iowa on Designated or In-Progress (Letter of Intent to designate filed with Iowa DNR Water Trails program). Water Trails that adhere to naturalistic river and surface trail design principles. The purpose of this crew is not intended to replace regular maintenance duties, such as silt removal at boat ramps or replacing existing signs. It is intended to provide enhancements or specialized skills where needed in specific areas. This is not a funding source but is to be used for crew work and planning.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

• Dam warning sign improvements
• Portage trail or carry-down trail construction
• Limited scale ADA access projects
• Canoe or kayak launch/landing construction
• Clearing and small-scale parking lot construction
• Paddle-in campsite construction
• A limited number of snag relocation projects will be considered when sustainable alternatives are available.

Current priorities are enhancements that enhance recreational safety at dams.

Upon request, as project design is developed, the crew can include the following equipment and operating skills:

• Project planning and permitting assistance (Field Specialist – work is done prior to project)
• Hand-tools, including trail building equipment, shovels, rack, Pulaskis, McCleods, etc.
• Trained chainsaw operation, including training for operation with bars under water
• “Mini” heavy equipment including walk-behind tracked skid steer (500-lb tipping point), Gator with dump box, gas powered drill/cutter
• Motorized boat and canoes.
• Minor carpentry and narrow-path (6’ wide or less) concrete work.
• 1-ton pick-up, dump trailer, enclosed trailer

Application is for work in the following calendar year (work season is approximately July 15 to Nov. 15). Use the following checklist to ensure all needed forms are supplied:
__ A. Application Ranking Criteria __ B. Sketch Map of Project Area(s)

A. Application Ranking Criteria

1. Number of work days expected to complete project work? Is there a preference as to when the project would happen during the work season? (5 points)

2. Has the project been viewed by the work specialist? If not, are you willing to adapt plans to be in accordance with established water trails and low-head dam planning principles? (20 points)

3. Are joint application permits already in place, or do you need assistance? (10 points)

4. Are funds for materials secured? (Note: Only minor DNR contributions for materials can be expected under this program.) (10 points)

5. Describe the significance of the project or projects to the local water trails systems in terms of unique or important amenities, safety impacts, connectivity impacts (i.e. – portage installed around an obstruction). (30 points)

6. Describe availability of facilities to house up to eight workers (can range from spike camping to bunkhouse lodging or other… please describe any kitchen facilities to bathroom and shower amenities for a mixed gender crew). (10 points)

7. Will this project make an existing area more sustainable over its life cycle (i.e. lower-maintenance launch, reduced signage maintenance issues, etc.). (10 points.)

8. Describe likely “rainy day projects” that would be available in case working along the river during the scheduled period is not possible. Higher points will be awarded to projects that would relate to the water-trail in some way. (5 points)

If there are any questions please e-mail Nate Hoogeveen or Emily Haase or contact by phone at 515.281.6640


B. Sketch Plan

Please include a sketch-plan for each project area. Please note approximate bank heights where appropriate, and show location in relationship to river’s bend. Indicate north, and approximate scale. In blank space, please note estimated quantities of materials that will be needed for the project.


For more information regarding Water Trails Site Planning and Work Crew Assistance contact Emily Haase at 515-494-5398 or

See website at

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