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Monday, August 23, 2010

2010 Beeds Lake Restoration Run, 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, August 28th!

Friends of Beeds Lake are hosting a 5K walk/run, 10k run and 1/2 marathon Restoration Run! August 28th at Beeds Lake State Park, Hampton, Iowa.

Age categories:
14 and below. 15 to 19, 20 to 29, 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, 70 and above.

All run/walk participants will receive a wicked awesome long sleeve shirt, FREE BREAKFAST and goody bag. Entry fees are $20 for the 5K and 10K, $35 for the 1/2 marathon.

Packet pick up will be August 27th from 4-7 PM, race day 6-7 AM at Beeds Lake State Park (lodge area). Registration will be available at these times also.

The 1/2 marathon will start at 7:00 and 5K walk/run and 10K will start at 7:30.
Half marathoners please register by 6:45!

Trophies will be awarded to the top male and female finishers and medals to the top three in each age category for the 5K and 10K. Half Marathon male and female overall winners will receive a trophy. All half finishers will receive a medal. Top male and female race finishers will receive free registration for 2011!

Massages will be provided (free) courtesy of Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers.

Click on "more info" to download a registration form or click the or links on Friends of Beeds lake home page for online registration. See the route descriptions at USATF running routes links on the Friends of Beeds Lake home page

Friday, August 20, 2010

State Parks Trails Challenge Runners

by Joe Wilkinson, Iowa DNR

Building endurance can be an uphill battle for serious runners. But it doesn't have to be round and round the track... or along lonely county blacktops. Throw in a few park trails and you get real hills... and various surfaces for a different and scenic workout.

Brogan Austin won the Iowa high school Class 3A cross country meet last fall, after logging 100 of his 518 summer training miles on the hills and bluffs of
Ledges State Park. The Boone senior continued his hill climbs and won the 3200 and 1600 meter runs at the 2010 state track meet, in May.

He's on to something that is far from a well kept secret. If there is a park trail in the vicinity... somebody is running it. At
Lake Macbride State Park, west of Solon, there's a steady stream of traffic. "It gets our athletes off the roads and to a softer surface," notes Emy Williams, cross country coach at Solon High School. Her teams use it regularly; as do athletes from Prairie High School, the University of Iowa, Cornell and Coe Colleges.

A steep hill near the trailhead at the park's north entrance challenges runners and bicyclists.
From there, a crushed limestone trail winds five miles east to the Solon Nature and Recreation Area. Most of the route is flat; perfect for racking up miles, or for a family stroll. As you approach Solon, a couple rolling inclines challenge runners. "It's the versatility. The terrain is similar to most cross country courses," compares Williams. As I walked it Monday morning, five of her runners passed me. Earlier in the month, her boys and girls teams had summer camp there.

Throw in the 1.5 mile loop from the beach to the Macbride dam and you have a tree-shaded bonus. In all, there are about 20 miles of trails along the lake or through the parks' steep, wooded terrain. Jog across the dam, and pick your way across the rocky spillway and you have wooded hillsides and hard dirt trails pointing toward the
University of Iowa's Macbride Field campus.

You can even do your running for college credit. Through the University of Iowa's Lifetime Leisure Studies program, Paul Sueppel offers an eight-week, one credit hour class on Trail Running. "I'm always telling them to keep their feet underneath their body; short, quick steps," advises Sueppel. "(Other than that), it's good posture, body up, head up. You need to retain your balance, especially going downhill. Watch for objects lying ahead."

With any sport, specialized equipment makes a difference. A good pair of trail running shoes does not resemble 'stock' Nikes, adidas or Sauconys. With trail running growing by leaps and bounds (literally) most full service shoe departments or running stores now stock trail shoes. "The thing to look for is big lugs on the bottom...and good ankle support," urges Sueppel. He says a new generation of trail shoes features just a low cushion; almost barefoot running, but with a little protection.

Lots of flat land runners get an outdoor education in a hurry, in state parks. Sueppel's class meets twice a week for eight weeks. With the Coralville Reservoir, Iowa River and Lake Macbride, there is a variety of terrain; Squire Point, Sugar Bottom recreation well as the Solon to Macbride trail. "It's fantastic; the kids from out of state especially--who think Iowa is flat," notes Sueppel. "It gives them an idea of Iowa's landscape."

Many state park trails come with a plan. Brogan Austin took advantage of the familiar 'box' step design at Ledges. "The steps are designed with the same 'rise' in each one," explains Angela Corio, from the
DNR parks bureau. "You know each step is going to rise six inches. You can focus on the view, instead of tree roots and irregular terrain. They are also built for long term erosion control."

The 'tread'; the number of steps you take on each has a purpose, too. Some allow one footfall. Every once in awhile, though; a longer one requires two. "That way, you are not always leading uphill with the same leg. You have to change," explains Corio.

It's no coincidence that many of Iowa's state parks have steep topography. In the first few decades of the 1900s--many were gifts to the state, or relatively cheap purchases because n
o one could farm them! Many of the resulting trails offer jaw-dropping beautiful vistas, as well as a great workout.

But it's not just the family stroll or heavy-duty hikers who take advantage. Some park users go full throttle. "Surprisingly, we get quite a few runners; Briar Cliff and Morningside Colleges and area high schools come out regularly," says Park Ranger Kevin Pape, about the steep bluffs of
Stone State Park, at Sioux City. "The Missouri River Runners Club sponsors its Broken Toe Trail Run here. We do see our regulars out here."

Some are far enough away from the nearest town that it's a workout just to get to them. That trims the number of runners...but some still show. "We see our regulars. The trails are their network. They create their own routes," says Matt Tschirgi, park manager at
Pikes Peak State Park, high above the Mississippi River near Marquette and McGregor.

Besides the break from looking at street traffic or the same striped track surface lap after lap, many runners come for the well as the softer, kind-to-the-legs surface of many state parks.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Take It Outside" for Non-Stop Fun at the 2010 Iowa State Fair.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will be encouraging all its visitors to "Take It Outside" for Non-Stop Fun at the 2010 Iowa State Fair.

Visitors will see quite a few new attractions both inside and outside of the DNR's pavilion, located at the west end of the State Fair Grand Concourse.

"We have many more interactive displays and hands-on activities in our building and courtyard this year," says Julie Sparks, with the Iowa DNR. "We really want to help people find non-stop fun in the outdoors."

Inside the pavilion, visitors will be able to build a tent, identify animal tracks, touch live reptiles and amphibians, make a leaf rubbing and shoot a bow.

"We are anticipating a lot of interest in our new archery range," says Sparks. Anyone 9 years old and older can try their hand at using a bow and arrow. The range will be enclosed within the DNR building and will have certified staff instructing and supervising the activity.

The DNR is hoping to draw quite a crowd on Extreme Sunday, the last day of the fair, to help build 1,000 bluebird houses on the Grand Concourse. DNR staff with volunteers from the Wild Turkey Federation will help kids build birdhouse to take home. The "extreme" event will begin at 11 a.m. and is free of charge.

As always, conservation officers will be on hand to answer questions, the Nature Store will have licenses, the Iowa Outdoors magazine, t-shirts and other items for sale and the historic aquarium, focal point of the pavilion, will be filled with Iowa fish.

Outside the west gates of the building is a pond full of waterfowl and turtles, focal point of the courtyard. The courtyard also features a full-size replica of a bald eagles nest, recently renovated prairie, a water fountain, picnic tables, benches and plenty of shade.

A brand new mobile education exhibit along the north fence helps visitors learn how to make simple, everyday behavior changes inside their homes to help protect and improve the environment outside.

Ogden sculptor David Williamson will again turn "trash into treasure" in the DNR's courtyard. Williamson uses metal trash collected from the DNR's annual river clean up event, Project AWARE, to create sculptures and most recently to create new gates for the DNR pavillion. Two of five gates are installed on the west side of the building, and construction on a third will begin during Williamson's courtyard demonstrations on the weekends.

Presentations are given daily on the courtyard stage, including live animal talks, cooking demonstrations, and a chance to meet and visit with the DNR Director, Richard Leopold, each Friday at noon. This year the DNR will be "tweeting" the stage schedule reminders to its followers on Twitter.

The DNR building at the fair will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the fair. For more information and a full courtyard stage schedule, visit .

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State parks: Catch a little more summer at Midwestern state parks -

Honey Creek State Park Resort get mention in the Chicago Tribune - Check it out -

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Saturday, August 7, 2010


Join us at Gull Point State Shelter on Sunday, August 29, 2010, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m for a brunch buffet, champagne tasting, live music, talks from history experts and art auction. The silent and live auction artworks are inspired by our lakes area.

Table sponsorship of $200 for a 4-top or $400 for a 8-top is limited and encourage early reservation. A $25 individual ticket does not guarantee a table, but will offer an opportunity to join in on the food, fun and auction. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly! Please email Deidre Rosenboom to reserve a table sponsorship:

Tickets can also be purchased at the Wine Bar, 139 Broadway Street, Arnolds Park, IA. and at Hy-Vee, Highway 9, Spirit Lake, IA.

For a little Background...

Recently, the Spirit Lake Protective Association created an ART Committee to organize an event bringing attention to the beauty, charm and historic significance of Mini-Wakan State Park.

The ART Committee acquired a number of original paintings of both the Mini-Wakan Shelter House, as well as the Gull Point Lodge, created by both local and nationally known artists. The donation of other original works of art, depicting sites throughout the Iowa Great Lakes, are currently being created. Also donations of several prints of existing pieces of art have been given for this project.

Additionally, a small number of LIMITED PRINTS, greeting cards, and post cards have been printed and will soon be available in area stores throughout the Iowa Great Lakes area. A lovely display of all of the donated art work is located in the north window of Evan’s Clothing Store in Olde Town Spirit Lake.

The Committee scheduled “Works of Arts for the State Parks …. An Endeavor for the Endowment”for Sunday, Aug. 29th at Gull Point Lodge. Original works of art will be sold at a live auction and the various other donations of art work will also be sold in a silent auction.

The ART Committee was formed with three potential benefits in mind:
1. Increasing public awareness of the Mini-Wakan Shelter House Project and the Endowment Fund for both it and the Gull Point Lodge.
2. Securing additional funds for the Mini-Wakan Restoration Project (including the Endowment).
3. Providing a forum to showcase the works of many artists, each of whom has a special love for the Iowa Great Lakes

The ART Committee members are actively seeking additional art. If you are an artist and you wish to donate a piece of art work for this fundraising effort, please contact Jane Ford 712-226-4333.

All funds raised through these efforts will be placed in the Mini-Wakan Shelter House Project Fund.


Anelisa Murphy
Candy Mayer
Dan Ruf
Sharon Sadusky
Mari Stewart
David Thoreson
Megan Fuhrman
Kathy Toole
Gary Gunderson
Danielle Clouse
Deidre Rosenboom
Jessie Bogenrief
Karen Cooper
Lissa Potter
Bill Hamilton'
Kathy Evert

Sunday, August 1, 2010

RAGBRAI Riders find fossils in Rockford

From Michael Morain - Des Moines Register

No khaki or pith helmet required: Hundreds of bikers-turned-archaeologists squatted in spandex to find 365-million-year-old souvenirs from the Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve in Rockford. The dime-sized clams (pelecypods) and snails (gastropods) from the Devonian Period were free for the taking – and plentiful.

Scott Wassmer, 35, of Valkaria, Fla., filled a small plastic bag during just a short break from his ride.
“Who ever thought we’d be beach-combing in the middle of Iowa?” he said, showing off the loot.

Nearby, 10-year-old Braden Heikens and his grandfather Randy Van Dyke, both of Spencer, scoured the dirt for brachiopod shells. The boy proudly displayed a few in his outstretched palm.

“I’m going to try to find more and put them in my room,” he said before heading off to celebrate the dig with a smoothie.

Floyd County Conservation naturalist Heidi Reams explained – many times over – that the site used to be a clay quarry for the Rockford Brick and Tile Company, which closed in the 1970s. The exposed layers of land now yield all kinds of critter remnants from Iowa’s prehistoric past.

She responded diplomatically when someone asked if she believed in global warming.

“On some days, yes, I do,” she said. “We’ve gone from being an ocean to cropland, so I’m afraid to see what’s next.”

But she spent most of the day simply helping people identify whatever they happened to hold up for inspection.

“Everyone has found something,” she said. “As long as you can bend over and get to the ground somehow, there are fossils there for you to find.”