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Friday, May 28, 2010

Green Valley, Honey Creek Campgrounds Open for Memorial Day Weekend

Iowa campgrounds will be bursting at the seams this Memorial Day weekend and with good reason. With a favorable weather forecast, good fishing, and three days in the campground will likely make this holiday one to remember.

Campers have snapped up nearly all electrical sites on the
DNR reservation system. For campers without reservations, Green Valley State Park, near Creston, had about 50 electrical sites available as of last Tuesday morning. Green Valley has undergone a major renovation that was completed this spring. It is open for camping, but will not be on the reservation system for 2010.

There are 17 non electric sites at Green Valley that will likely not be available because of wet conditions and the new grass has not yet come in. Campers interested in the site should visit with the park ranger before setting up.

Honey Creek State Park will also allow campers in this weekend after a major road resurfacing project closed the entire park last August. Honey Creek has 28 full hook-up sites, 75 electrical sites and 45 non electric sites and will allow camping on a first come basis.

Other sites available with electricity through the reservation system as of Tuesday morning include one at Clear Lake, two at Lake Keomah, two at Fairport, one at Lacey Keosauqua and one at Prairie Rose. Sites that are ADA compliant are available at Lake Darling, Pine Lake and Stone state parks. Reservations must be made by Wednesday or the sites will become first come, first served for the weekend.

"Campsite reservations for this weekend filled quickly three months ago and with a good weather forecast, my guess is that the first come sites will fill early this week," said Kevin Szcodronski, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau. "My advice to anyone looking for a campsite this weekend is to call first and look at parks further away from the larger cities.

"We've been through a long winter and we want everyone to come out and have a good time," Szcodronski said. "Listen to the birds, enjoy the wildlife and relax with friends and family."

Campgrounds near capacity, boat ramps busy and picnickers filling the shelters will be the norm this weekend. Szcodronski said the increased use is a welcomed sign of summer, and he encouraged campers and visitors to be good neighbors. Campers are also asked to get their firewood locally and to leave all fireworks at home. Don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray.

"Everyone is excited for the first holiday of the camping season and we want to encourage them be courteous to their fellow campers, to pick up after themselves and leave the site in as good or better condition than they found it. It only takes one noisy neighbor to ruin a camping trip for a lot of people," Szcodronski said. "We are also encouraging campers to help us save electricity by turning off their air conditioners when they are not in the camper, and to unplug their lights when they go in for the night."

The campground and boat ramp will not be the only places busy with activity. The prairies and forests that are part of the park will be busy with the sounds of wildlife.

"This really is a great time to be outdoors," Szcodronski said. "It's a nice time to slow down from our busy lives, pull the ear buds out of our ears and appreciate the sounds of nature."

From the witchy-witchy-witchy of the common yellow throat to the sound of grinding steel ball bearings made by cricket frogs. Pheasants are crowing, coyotes howling and hummingbirds are out. Listen for hey-sweetie by the chickadees, and drink your tea from the Eastern towhee. This concert is playing now and campers will have a front row seat.

Another activity hitting its peak is fishing and if there is a lake in or near the park, fishing will be good. Check with the park staff to see what is biting and where to fish. Bluegills, crappies and bass will likely be aggressive and close to shore. Anglers should use small tackle and bait for the best success.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The First Class Challenge - Disc Golf Tournament

PDGA Super Tour A-Tier Event

May 29-30, 2010

The First Class Challenge will once again include
Big Creek State Park as one of the four courses played for this tournament held May 29th and 30th.

Currently, there are 158 players registered from 15 different States. Registration is expected to reach over 200 by tee off Saturday morning. Each participant will get to play Big Creek, which is one of the premiere courses in the Midwest.

Tournament Website:

PDGA Current Registration List:


Friday – Registration/Check-in 12:00-8:00PM at Walnut Ridge

Open/Pro – Ewing
Advanced-Pickard (Indianola)
Intermediate/Recreational-Big Creek

Saturday – 2:00PM
Open/Pro – Pickard (Indianola)
Advanced - Ewing
Intermediate/Recreational-Walnut Ridge

Sunday – 8:00AM
Advanced – Walnut Ridge

Sunday – 9:30AM
Open/Pro – Big Creek

Sunday – 1:00PM
Advanced – Big Creek
Intermediate/Recreational – Ewing

Sunday – 2:30PM
Open/Pro – Walnut Ridge

Sunday- Approx 5:00 – Awards - Walnut Ridge

Monday, May 24, 2010

State parks may look 'rough around the edges

By PERRY BEEMAN • • May 23, 2010

Memorial Day weekend state-park visitors will find a mix of new offerings, works in progress and delayed projects.

They also will find scaled-back park crews that will struggle to keep up with mowing, restroom cleaning and trail maintenance. The summer crews will be half the normal size and will work fewer hours. For example, summer crews are budgeted to work 90,000 hours this summer, but put in 140,000 in 2008.

"Things are going to look rough around the edges," said state parks chief Kevin Szcodronski.

Read the rest of this article on the Des Moines Register web site.

For those interested in seasonal employment with Iowa DNR will find more information at the DNR website.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Trail Summit Coming to Cedar Falls in June

A diverse gathering of Iowa trail users will take place at the University of Northern Iowa Lang Hall Auditorium, in Cedar Falls, on June 18 and 19.

The Iowa Trails Summit is a first of its kind conference bringing together hikers, bikers, paddlers, equestrians, Off Highway Vehicles, snowmobilers as well as health experts and tourism officials.

The summit agenda on June 18 includes panel discussions in four sessions covering healthy communities, diversity and accessibility, trail planning, development and funding, and on multi-use and shared trails.

On June 19, there will be a wide range of free demonstrations and outdoor trail events at the Riverview Recreation Area in Waterloo.

For information on registration and fees, go to and click on Iowa Trails Summit in the navigation bar on the left.

The Iowa Trail Summit is supported by the Federal Highway Administration, Iowa Department of Transportation, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, the Iowa Whitewater Coalition, Greater Des Moines Volkssport Association, Iowa State Snowmobile Association, Iowa Off-Highway Vehicle Association, Iowa Motorsports Coalition, National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Cedar Valley Paddlers, Friends of Iowa Trails, Friends of Iowa Rivers, Cedar Trails Partnership, Cedar Valley Association of Soft Trails, Iowa Horse Council, Iowa Trail Riders Association and the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


A one of a kind 3,500 square foot house on the end of a secluded road surround by trees will soon be available for rental by the public through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

The Sherburne House, a 10‐acre addition to Springbrook State Park in Guthrie County,
will be available for reservations beginning on May 1 with the rental season closing Oct. 31. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living rooms, a full service kitchen, and sleeps 12.

“There is really nothing like this in our state park system,” said Angela Corio, landscape architect with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources State Parks Bureau. “The house is spacious and the setting is absolutely gorgeous with a balcony, patio and entirely surrounded by woods and wildlife.”

Floyd Sherburne designed and built the house himself at age 65 after he retired. He and his wife lived off the land with a large garden, orchard and wood heat.

The rental fee is $200 per night with a two night minimum, or $1,200 for a week. To make a reservation, contact the park at 641‐747‐3591. The house will be on the park reservation system next year.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Restaurant Popular Among Visitors to Viking Lake

The restaurant and concession building at Viking Lake State Park is open for the season, providing campers with a unique service found nowhere else in the state park system.

The full-scale sit down restaurant offers steaks, chicken, and fish as well as burgers and fries. The building shares space with a concession that offers bait and tackle, boat rental, items for camping, firewood, hunting and fishing licenses and soft serve ice cream. The building was re-opened on April 15, 2008 after a fire destroyed it in July 2006.
"It's pretty popular," said Todd Carrick, park ranger at Viking Lake, who is busy getting the just-as-popular campground ready and the water turned on. Viking Lake is one of the state's busiest campgrounds sitting about 60 miles southeast of Council Bluffs, in Mills County.

"The campers and anglers seem to really enjoy the service the store and restaurant offer," Carrick said. "They can do some shopping, rent a paddleboat or pontoon, or have some ice cream with the kids. It's just a unique service that we are fortunate to have."

The restaurant sits near the beach with a nice view of the lake.

"We like to go to the restaurant when working at Viking Lake," said Bryan Hayes, regional fisheries biologist with the DNR. Viking Lake was renovated during 2006 and restocked in 2007.
Hayes said Viking Lake should offer good fishing for channel catfish and largemouth bass this season. He said bluegill fishing is also good, but the fish may need a little more growing time to pass 7 inches and start being harvested by anglers.

"Things are looking good and should just continue to improve," Hayes said.

Meet John Craun (The Iowa Paddler) in Des Moines

You are invited to meet John Craun in Des Moines as he "Paddles Across Iowa" for Hickory Ridge!

Saturday, May 1
Gather at Birdland Marina at Noon, Program at 12:30
(Location: north of University on Pennsylvania Ave., across from Union Park)

John Craun launched his kayak earlier this week north of Estherville, to Paddle Across Iowa more than 400 miles on the Des Moines River to the Mississippi. He will brave storms, debris, low-head dams and high water. It’s all for a good cause: to inspire support for establishment of the Hickory Ridge Wilderness Camp project at Lake Red Rock.

John expects to “make a fast run” all the way to Des Moines, arriving by early Saturday, May 1. Supporters will gather at Noon at Birdland Marina to cheer him on. Some plan to paddle with him in central Iowa. This event will be held outdoors, rain or shine, so dress for the weather. Those who plan to paddle are asked to make their own shuttle arrangements.

A short program at 12:30 will include Richard Leopold, Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources; Mark Ackelson, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation President; and Gerry Rowland, Father of the Des Moines River Trail.

Craun, an “extreme” paddler and craftsman of fine kayaks and canoes, wants this event and Paddle Across Iowa to bring awareness to the recreational values of Iowa's waterways and growing water trail system.