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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will open three designated Off Highway Vehicle parks for use by Off-Road Utility Vehicles (ORVs) beginning at sunrise on October 30. The parks are Nicholson Ford in Marshall County, Lakeview OHV park in Johnson County, and Tama OHV park in Tama County.

“We worked with the clubs, dealers, manufactures and looked at what other states have done to create a survey we could use in the parks to make sure that adding these vehicles would not conflict with other users and would not damage the areas,” said David Downing, coordinator for the Iowa DNR’s Off Highway Vehicle program.

He said some of the criteria they used to survey the park included a visual component to determine if a rider could see other users coming and a physical component, to examine if the trails were proper width to accommodate the wider vehicles. They also looked at what, if any, modifications would be necessary for the park to handle the vehicles and the impact on the park maintenance.

“We operated different machines of different sizes to see how the park would respond and what the park had to offer,” Downing said. “These three parks passed the survey and will be opened on October 30. We will also look at our remaining parks to see if any others would be suitable for ORVs.”

The designation that will allow ORVs in the parks began two years ago as consumers and the manufacturing industry shifted toward these vehicles with bench seats that allowed two or more passengers to ride. The vehicles, equipped with roll cages, were increasingly popular with hunters and with ice anglers, farmers and acreage owners. But other than during the winter on frozen lakes, the owners had no legal place to ride on public land.

Downing said it was common for him to be on the phone with someone who just bought an ORV and was looking for advice.

“They would call and say ‘I just bought this, I got it registered, now where can I ride it?’” he said. “This is a big deal because there has not been a legal place for these vehicles before. Now they have that place.”

The three parks that will allow ORVs beginning Saturday are part of eight OHV parks in Iowa. The parks currently attract OHV and ATV riders from other states due to their unique features of trails in a contained park and trail maintenance. Other states usually only offer linear trails.

There are no fees to ride in the park, but riders are required to have and display a current DNR vehicle registration decal. The registration fees are used to support the program, which helps to fund the parks.

“The ORV owners would have to go out of state to ride legally. With the three parks allowing these vehicles, they can stay here and ride much closer to home,” Downing said.

The DNR has a list of parks and rules on its website at

What is an Off-Road Utility Vehicle?

According to the DNR, Off-Road Utility Vehicle means a motorized flotation-tire vehicle with not less than four and not more than eight low-pressure tires that is limited in engine displacement to less than 1,500 cubic centimeters and in total dry weight to not more than 1,800 pounds and that has a seat that is of bucket or bench design, not intended to be straddled by the operator, and a steering wheel or control levers for control.

ORVs are also known as side-by-sides, or common brand/model names Razor, Rhino, Ranger or Mule.

CONTACT: David Downing, Off Highway Vehicles program coordinator, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, 515-238-3564

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Guest Post - I-WILL Vote Yes for Natural Resources Protection

I am writing to alert you that November 2nd, Iowans will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly increase natural resource funding in our state.

On the back of the ballot is Question 1, known as Iowa's Water and Land Legacy (IWILL), to create a constitutionally-protected Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. A small percentage of any future sales tax increase will be dedicated to this fund.

In Missouri, Minnesota and deveral other states, such measures have led to significant increases in natural resource funding and a boom in nature and eco-tourism.

I am voting YES for IWILL, because:

  • Iowa ranks 49 out of 50 states in public lands, and 47 out of 50 states in natural resource spending.
  • Although our rich soils are the lifeblood of our state, over half our topsoil has already washed away. Iowa is losing a staggering average of five tons of topsoil, per acre, per year.
  • Major flood events are increasing, at great human and economic cost.
  • We have 500 impaired waterways. Excess nutrients flowing down the Mississippi have created an enormous dead-zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Song-bird and other wild-life populations continue in decline as their habitat is degraded.
  • Farmers and landowners need assistance in funding additional voluntary conservation measures.
  • The state Department of Natural Resources does not have enough resources to adequately maintain our state parks.
  • Enhanced REAP funding is needed to fund trails, environmental education, and other outdoor recreation options.
  • We need to maintain our agricultural productivity long-term, and create jobs linked to outdoor recreation. The Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund will provide a permanent and accountable funding mechanism for protection of water quality, conservation of agricultural soils and improvement of natural areas in Iowa, including fish and wildlife habitat.
The next two weeks are crucial! A majority vote is needed to have this measure pass. Please, spread the word to your friends and family and urge them to vote YES for IWILL!

Feel free to forward a linke to this blog to any groups you may belong to.

For more information, see:

Why do I care?
As board-member of the non-profit Whiterock Conservancy land trust (, and director of a non-profit that promotes small-town vitality (, I believe that investments in preserving natural resource are vital to our economic future as a state.

Thank you for your time and interest. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this. Also, please let me know if you would prefer to be taken off my email list.

Rachel Garst

home 712-651-2015
office 712-999-7031

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Mullet Classic Fall Mountain Bike Race/Ride/Relay -

IMBCS #8 - October 10th - Lake Ahquabi State Park, Indianola, IA

Host Race Team:

Race Director/Promoters: Bruce Brown/Jed Gammell/Rob Versteegh
Written By Bruce Brown
On Sunday, October 10, 2010 the Iowa Mountain Bike Championship Series heads south.

Have you heard of the famous Chequamegon 40 in Wisconsin that is run on cross country ski trails, forest roads, snowmobile trails and wooded lanes? That's right!! We now have a "Cheqaumegon like" race in our very own Iowa series.

Coming for the third time is Iowa's very own backwoods, super fast, fat tire XC race held on a course loop that rolls on the multi-use cross country ski, snowmobile, and hiking trail that circles Lake Ahquabi. The race loop utilizes backwood sections of the wooded trails throughout Lake Ahquabi State Park to make for a scenic race filled with unique challenges.

COURSE: The 7.5+ mile loop includes a trip around Lake Ahquabi's multi-use trail with additional sections that include backwood trails. You will encounter gravel, dirt, roots, ruts, grass, logs, wooden bridges, railroad tie stairs, climbs, fast descents and the best nature has to offer on this scenic course. The loop will be the perfect test of one's fitness with all of the full throttle speed and all of the climbing, but will not be technical in nature to scare off the entry level racer. In fact, this will be a perfect venue for first timers and experts alike.

RACE DAY SCHEDULE: [12:00 Noon - Mass Start for 2010]

CAT 1 Expert Men/Women's Open - 12:00pm (prizes: 100% expert entry fee pay out for top 3 in Expert Open and Women's Open categories)

CAT 2 Sport Men/Sport Women/Singlespeed/Sport Junior - 12:00pm (prizes for winners)

CAT 3 Beginner Men/Beginner Women/Beginner Junior - 12:00pm (prizes for winners)

Open Marathon Category (40 miles) solo or 5 person tag team.

Awards Ceremony: After the completion of all categories


Registration is on the day of the race starting at 9:00am and closes 15 minutes before each race begins. Or you can register at

Entry Fee: $25

The start/finish line area will be near the swimming beach and boat rental. Bring the entire family, but it will be too cold to swim. How about building sand castles? Due to it being off season, I doubt one can rent one of the many canoes, kayaks, double kayaks, row boats, or paddle boats that are available during the season (ends 9/30). There is a concession stand with food and drinks as well as lots of shade and picnic tables for those seeking to avoid the sun. Again - I believe this will be closed.

DIRECTIONS: Lake Ahquabi State Park is five miles south of Indianola (17 miles south of Des Moines) on Hwy. 65/69 and one mile west on G-58. Enter Lake Ahquabi State Park through the main entrance where G-58 ends and the entrance gate is located at the 4 way stop. Parking and registration will be at the Lake Ahquabi Lodge (once you enter the park, take the first left at the Lodge sign). We have the Lodge rented for the day of the race and restrooms are located inside.

View Larger Map

YOUR IMBCS Lake Ahquabi State Park XC Race Director/Promoters:
Bruce Brown
Jed Gammell
Rob Versteegh

More Information:

515-961-0251; 515-205-4295

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The Iowa DNR is currently accepting public comment regarding proposed changes to state park reservation system rules.

Proposed changes include: increasing the percentage of reservable campsites in each park from 50 percent to 75 percent; removing the three percent credit card processing fee; adding the ability to make online changes for a fee of $5 and increasing the call center change fee to $7; adding an online cancellation option for a fee of $5 and increasing the call center cancellation fee to $7; and changing the last day to make a rental facility reservation in the off season to seven days prior to the arrival date.

“For the past four years we have had a very well-received reservation system in place,” says Kevin Szcrodronski, DNR State Parks Bureau chief. “We would like to move now to the next generation of a reservation system, with enhanced capabilities for our park visitors.”

A complete copy of the rules and their proposed amendments can be viewed online at

Suggestions or comments on the rule changes can be made in writing or by phone on or before Oct. 26, 2010 to Sherry Arntzen, State Parks Bureau, Department of Natural Resources, 502 E 9th St., Des Moines, IA 50319-0034; Fax 515-281-6794; Phone 515-242-6233; Email

Interested persons may express their views orally or present them in writing at a public hearing to be held Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. in the 5th floor conference room of the Wallace State Office Building, 502 E 9th St. in Des Moines.

For more information contact Kevin Szcodronski at or 515-281-8674