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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Birding Festival makes Major Improvements for 2009

Weekends in Oct and early Nov, Lansing, Iowa
Submitted by Ric Zarwell

Enjoy awesome close-up views of 15-18,000 elegant Tundra Swans; of 15 to 20 other waterfowl species in enormous concentrations of up to 200-300,000 birds; plus scores of Bald Eagles and many other wildlife species.

This year, special "Fall Migration Cruises" will explore the wildlife-rich Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on three consecutive weekends when wildlife numbers peak for the year: Oct. 31-Nov. 1; Nov. 7-8; and Nov. 14-15.

Cruises take place twice on Saturdays and twice on Sundays: from 9 AM to Noon, and from 1 PM to 4 PM. Enjoy a cozy ride on a large, enclosed and heated boat with windows on all sides, and the closest views of Tundra Swans available anywhere. Free hot apple cider will further sweeten the experience.

All cruises leave from the waterfront in Lansing, in gorgeous Northeast Iowa - just 35 miles east of Decorah, IA, and 35 miles upstream from McGregor and Marquette, IA. Festival organizer, Ric Zarwell, and at least one expert birder will be onboard to help visitors understand and enjoy all that they see. Pre-registration is required for "Fall Migration Cruises." Do this with a free phone call to 877-647-7397. Other details are found at

Bring cameras and binoculars!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An Afternoon with Frank Lloyd Wright

Lecture Event to be held in Quasqueton, Iowa at 1 p.m., Saturday, October 24th.

An Afternoon With Frank Lloyd Wright Save the date!
Plan to be in Quasqueton, Iowa on Saturday, October 24th for an event titled "An Afternoon with Frank Lloyd Wright". Why there? Well, the Wright-designed Lowell Walter House (or "Cedar Rock") is close by and this event is presented by the Cedar Rock Friends Group. Read more after the jump...
"An Afternoon with Frank Lloyd Wright" will feature two speakers: Steve Sikora and Phil Fedderson. Steve Sikora calls himself a Wright home restorationist. Mr. Sikora has an design firm in Minnesota. He and his wife are the current owner of the Wright designed Willey House. His presentation is titled "Wright to Life" and will include some first hand home-owner experiences.
Phil Feddersen is a semi-retired architect from Iowa who not only has been photographing Wright's buildings for almost 60 years he was a friend of Wright's personal secretary Eugene Masselink. His presentation is titled "Wrightian Fragments" and should be a wealth of information on many things Wright.
The Cedar Rock Friends Group is a growing group of wonderful people who are willing to volunteer their time and energies to support the Walter House at Cedar Rock State Park. Their defined mission statement is "To support and sustain the preservation, maintenance, and development of Frank Lloyd Wright's Walter House through education, promotion, and fundraising,"

The event starts at 1:00 p.m. at the American Legion Hall in downtown Quasqueton, IA and ends at 4:00 p.m. so that participants can catch the last tour of the day at Cedar Rock - which is at 4:30 p.m. Guests are asked to donate $7.00 to the Cedar Rock Friends Group to help defray expenses of the event. People with questions, or who want to reserve a chair are invited to e-mail
This looks like it will be a fantastic event that should not be missed! See you there!

Seating is limited, so please reserve your place today. For reservations or additional information, contact Pat Schmitz, Cedar Rock State Park by e-mail at or by phone at (319) 934-3572.

Parks Group Wants Your Opinion-Public input effort begins with on-line survey

The Iowa Parks Foundation is asking park users and members of the general public to share their opinions about recent experiences in Iowa’s parks.

“Before this new organization jumps into comprehensive planning for ‘green infrastructure’ or begins a major fund-raising campaign; we want to understand how parks are used today and Iowans’ expectations for the future.” says Kent Sovern, Executive Director of the Parks Foundation.

The on-line survey is the first step in a citizen engagement process that will include community meetings that will be scheduled around the state in the late fall and early winter. The Foundation will host community forums as well as smaller targeted focus groups in each region of the state.

“We have designed an online assessment tool to help identify recreational interests, patterns of park use, quality and condition of state park facilities and user priorities for park improvements for the future.” Sovern said. “With broad-based citizen and community input, we hope to create an action plan that preserves, enhances and transforms the recreational and natural resources environment throughout Iowa.”

To participate in the survey, visit the Foundation’s web site at and click on the IPF logo on the right hand side of the page. It will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete the survey.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Van Buren County - Scenic Drive Festival

Beautiful fall foliage will abound as visitors experience the Villages of Van Buren’s Scenic Drive Festival, Oct. 10-11.

Activities are scheduled at Lacey-Keosauqua State Park and in all 12 villages: Birmingham, Douds, Selma, Lebanon, Milton, Cantril, Farmington, Bonaparte, Bentonsport, Stockport, Keosauqua, and new this year, Mt. Sterling.

Lacey-Keosauqua State Park will again be hosting a pre-1840’s Buckskinners Rendezvous Camp to be held at Ely Ford on Saturday and Sunday. They will showcase period camping and skills, knife and hawk throwing demonstrations, a candy cannon, rope making, black powder shooting, basket making, period trade goods, a black smith, and food concession (fry bread available).

The DNR will also have exhibit booths set up.

On Sunday, the Friends of Lacey and Keosauqua Chamber of Commerce will host a 5K Run/2 Mile Trail Walk starting at 9 a.m. at the Lodge. There is a $15.00 pre-registration or $20.00 registration (day of) fee for this event.

Follow the marked “Scenic Drive” signs to each of the historic villages. There is no admission fee.

Activities will include arts, crafts, flea markets, garage sales, wine tasting/sales, Native American Pow Wow, buckskinners and family fun.

New events are the Fall Festival Rodeo at the Van Buren County Fairgrounds in Keosauqua and homemade Amish breakfast in Lebanon. Mt. Sterling’s activities include chainsaw carvers, demonstrations, tractor show, street dance and more.

Download a free brochure and map, or call 800-868-7822.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

REAP Assemblies Continue throughout the State

Show support for Iowa's REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) program and help shape its future and priorities at one of the 17 assemblies coming up this fall.

REAP provides up to $20 million annually for critical conservation programs of open space protection, soil and water enhancement, land management, historical resource protection, natural roadside vegetation and conservation education.

Assemblies are held every two years in the areas of the state's 17 Councils of Government. At each public meeting, attendees learn about the overall REAP budget and recently-funded REAP projects in their region. Attendees also identify opportunities for the future regional REAP projects, recommend REAP policy changes and elect representatives to the REAP Congress.

Learn more about REAP assemblies at the DNR website.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Iowa's Natural Heritage: On the October 8 edition of The Iowa Journal

Thursday’s episode of The Iowa Journal takes to the great outdoors to explore Iowa’s role in the preservation and conservation of the state’s and the nation’s natural heritage. This special one-hour program airs Thursday, October 8 at 8 p.m. Portions of this program will be rebroadcast Friday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. on statewide Iowa Public Television. The full one-hour show will air again on Saturday, October 10 at 8:30 a.m. It will also be available online at

In the first half hour of the program, Dan Kaercher takes viewers around the state to learn about people who have made and are making a difference to Iowa’s environment, in the past, the present and the future. Kaercher introduces viewers to four early Iowa conservationists: John F. Lacey, Charles Reuben Keyes, Ada Hayden, and Margo K. Frankel.

He also travels the Loess Hills in western Iowa and learns what people are doing to save the unusual topographical formation there. The program also visits Lakeside Lab on West Lake Okoboji. Founded in 1909 to teach students about “nature in nature,” Lakeside Lab offers opportunities students can’t find anywhere else.

The Thursday and Saturday broadcasts will also feature host Paul Yeager discussing environmental issues in the studio with Bill Northey, Iowa’s secretary of agriculture; Pat Boddy, deputy director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; former Congressman Neal Smith who served Iowa for 36 years in the U.S. House; Connie Mutel, from The University of Iowa, ecologist and author of Fragile Giants about Iowa’s Loess Hills and The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa; and Chad Graeve, natural resource specialist at the Hitchcock Nature Center near Honey Creek.

For more information about The Iowa Journal, visit