Request for Federal Recreational Trails Funds General Information Applicant Agency: Story County Conservation
Contact (Name & Title): Carol Williams, Special Projects Ranger
Complete Mailing Address: 56461 180th Street
Ames, Iowa 50010-9451 Phone: 515-232-2516
If more than one agency or organization is involved in this project, please state the name, contact person, mailing address, and telephone number of the second agency.
Agency: Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.
Contact (Name & Title): Jim Cooper, Coordinator
Complete Mailing Address: 510 S. 11th Street
P.O. Box 572
Nevada, Iowa 50201 Phone: 515-382-1512
Agency: Skunk River Paddlers
Contact (Name & Title): Richard Dietz, Coordinator
Complete Mailing Address: 5782 Felber Street
Ames, Iowa 50010 Phone: 515-232-1484
Project Title: Skunk River Water Trail Project Description: This project proposes to improve existing river access along 18 miles of Story County’s Upper Skunk River Canoe Trail (Attachment I) and to extend the trail an additional 10 miles south to include the public land at Cambridge Pond. The new water trail will link 13 existing public areas along 28 miles of the South Skunk River. Improvements will include the following:
upgrading existing launch/landing areas
adding three new access sites
making two access points wheelchair accessible
installing water trail signs, bridge signs, and informational kiosks
_ Combination - Number of Acres X Diversified (refer to Question 1)
Project Costs (See Attachment E for an itemized breakdown):
Total Cost $37,426
Trails Fund Amount $29,126
Applicant Funds $ 2,000
Other Sources $ 8,300 (Specify below)
SourceAmountAssured or Anticipated
1. County Conservation $ 2,520 Assured
2. Engineering $ 900 Assured
3. Other Donations $ 4,880 Anticipated (equipment & labor)
Are any state funds involved in this project? Yes No
If yes, please explain the source and conditions
Are any federal funds involved in this project? Yes No
If yes, please explain the source and conditions
Estimated Project Development Schedule:
Start: October 1, 2004 Completion: September 30, 2006
Has any part of this trail project been started? Yes No
Story County’s Upper Skunk River Canoe Trail (Attachment I) and Greenbelt areas (Attachment J) are currently enjoyed by a large and varied group. In 2002, the Skunk River Paddlers made improvements to the canoe landing at River Valley Park in Ames, and together with other Story County Conservation volunteers and the Skunk River Navy (an educational & community service organization of the Iowa State University Biology Department), constructed a switchback trail across a steep slope at the E18 Canoe Access. Do you intend to charge a fee to trail users? Yes No
Required Documentation and Narrative Information
A. A NARRATIVE assessing existing conditions, outlining the concept of the proposed project, and providing adequate project justification. The narrative must show that the concept is reasonable from a transportation engineering and/or recreational standpoint and is part of an area wide, local, regional, or statewide plan.
B. A MAP identifying the location of the project.
C. A CROSS-SECTION of the proposed trail project (if appropriate).
D. A SKETCH-PLAN of the trail project.
E. An ITEMIZED BREAKDOWN of the total project costs.
F. A TIME SCHEDULE for the total project development.
G. An OFFICIAL ENDORSEMENT of the trail proposal from the authority to be responsible for the maintenance and operation. The authority must provide written assurance that it will adequately maintain the trail for its intended use and maintain the total trail used to justify the project in public use for a minimum of 20 years following project completion.
H. A NARRATIVE discussing the extent to which adjacent property owners have been informed of the proposed project and an assessment of their acceptance. The award of Federal Recreational Trails funds; any subsequent letting of contract for design, construction, reconstruction, improvement, or maintenance; or the furnishing of materials shall not involve direct or indirect interest, prohibited by Iowa Code Sections 314.2, 362.5 or 331.342, of any state, county, or official, elective or appointive. Any award of Federal Recreational Trail funding or any letting of a contract in violation of the foregoing provisions shall invalidate the award of Federal Recreational Trails funding and authorize a complete recovery of any funds previously disbursed.
PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA POINT SYSTEM
IOWA FEDERAL RECREATIONAL TRAILS PROGRAM 1. Describe the degree to which the project provides for innovative recreational trail sharing to accommodate motorized and non-motorized recreational trail use. (10 points)
The Skunk River accommodates all types of non-motorized aquatic recreational uses in spring, summer and fall. These seasonal activities include fishing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, tubing, and swimming. Hiking, jogging, and wildlife viewing take place within the river corridor year-round. Small-motorized fishing boats are uncommon in the upper reaches of the South Skunk, but may use the river when flow conditions allow. This project will afford canoeists and kayakers the possibility to stop at intersection points of the land-based parks and trails along the proposed water trail. Access to short hikes to prairies, woodlands and marshes along the way will enhance the river experience.
In the winter the river corridor provides for snowmobiling, hiking, and cross-country skiing. Often snowmobile and ski tracks can be seen side by side, and in some cases, cross-country skiers will use the “groomed” snowmobile track. The intersection of the proposed water trail with existing multipurpose land trails will expand the opportunities for these winter sports users. The addition of bridge signs (identifying road crossings) and informational kiosks at each access area will benefit motorized as well as non-motorized users.
2. Describe the degree to which the project provides for the greatest number of compatible recreational purposes including, but not limited to, those used for recreational purposes such as bicycling, mountain biking, cross-county skiing, hiking/jogging/fitness/nature trail activities, horseback riding, snowmobiling, aquatic or water activities and vehicular travel by motorcycle, or all-terrain off-road vehicles. (10 points)
The Skunk River Water Trail will link 13 existing public areas and provide for an additional river access with a planned bridge replacement at 265th Street. These public areas and associated greenbelt trails are popular among a varied group, including hikers, joggers, bicyclists, equestrians, cross-country skiers, fisherman, hunters, wildlife watchers and other naturalists. The existing Canoe Trail has long been popular with local residents and university students, and hikers, skiers and snowmobilers use the river in winter. Signs and informational kiosks, with maps to include connecting greenbelt trails and other nearby public areas, will benefit all river and trailusers.
3. Describe the degree to which the project facilitates the access and use of trails by older citizens, economically disadvantage, persons with disabilities, and other special populations or groups.(10 points)
The South Skunk is the “backyard” to a large portion of the Story County population, traversing the county from north to south. This project will provide benefits to a number of special populations and minority groups. Proposed grade and surface improvements (particularly two wheelchair-accessible areas) will facilitate river access for older citizens and those with physical disabilities. An example of the trail’s potential impact for persons with disabilities comes from David DenHaan who in his letter of support states, “Once on the river all barriers are removed. It’s that initial access that is key.”
Trail signs, maps and informational kiosks proposed in this project will be an important tool to inform the public of these access areas. Effective public information as to the available recreational opportunities in Story County will help to increase trail use by all members of the public, regardless of socio-economic status, age or physical challenges.
4. Describe the degree to which the project provides development of trail linkages.
This Water Trail project will link existing parks and greenbelt trails within Story County, Story City, and Ames:
River access at Story City’s South Park is adjacent to a public trail at Jacobson Park and to groomed cross-country ski trails at River Bend Public Golf Course.
An existing greenbelt trail from E18 to the Anderson Canoe Access can be used in a self-supported down-river trip (ordinarily a second vehicle is used to shuttle paddlers back to the put-in). In winter, it provides cross-country skiers and hikers with a lengthy (6 mile) loop. Shorter loops can be taken at various points downstream.
River access at Anderson’s, Crooked Bend, Bear Creek, Soper’s, McFarland Park, and Peterson Park connect to hiking, biking, and cross country ski trails. These trails also can be used by equestrians between E18 and Anderson’s and at Peterson Park.
The trails and lakes at Peterson Park provide for the possibility of self-supported down-river trips, or with short portages, a water trail loop.
River access at Sleepy Hollow adjoins hiking, biking, and ski trails at the Ada Hayden Heritage Park in Ames. The city of Ames Capital Improvement Plan calls for the eventual establishment of a Skunk River Recreational Trail from Ada Hayden Park to River Valley Park, and beyond to the Youth Sports Complex.
River access at Ames’ River Valley Park connects to city bike routes and to recreational trails in McDonald, Gunder, and Nutty Woods.
This trail can eventually extend to the Heart of Iowa Trail (which is a part of the American Discovery Trail) and to the Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt area in Polk County.
The Iowa Trails 2000 State Wide Trails Vision Map (Attachment M) shows a Skunk River Greenway Corridor in Hamilton and Story counties, and proposes trails intersecting with the river at E18, R70, and various points in and near Ames (Attachment N).
5. Describe the degree to which the project creates opportunities for partnerships between trail users, private interests within the area and public agencies.(Enclose letters of support as documentation.) (10 points)
Project development has provided an opportunity for collaboration between Story County Conservation, the Story County Engineer, Story City Parks and Recreation, Ames Parks & Recreation, and Prairie Rivers of Iowa Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. (Prairie Rivers RC&D).
Community groups supporting these enhancements include the Skunk River Paddlers, the Iowa State Canoe & Kayak Club, the Iowa Whitewater Coalition, the Skunk River Navy, Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, Big Bluestem Audubon Society, Friends of Central Iowa Biking, Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, and local Scout Troop 230.
Local businesses supporting the project include Ames Outdoor Gear, Skunk River Cycles, Wild Birds Unlimited, the Grove Café, and Ames Power Sports. Additional letters from community members at large also show support for the project.
The Skunk River Paddlers is among a number of user groups and individuals who participate in the Story County Conservation Adopt-a-Park Program. Several community groups, including the Skunk River Paddlers, Skunk River Navy, Squaw Creek Watershed Coalition, and the ISU Soil and Water Conservation Club, organize and participate in stream monitoring (IOWATER) and clean-ups on the Skunk and its tributaries.
All of these supporters, and others, share an interest in recreational opportunities and a concern for the river, watershed, and natural areas within. Further enhancements to the South Skunk River Water Trail will enrich recreational opportunities and provide for safe enjoyment of and appreciation for the river and associated park and greenbelt areas. Such activity can increase awareness of and stewardship for these resources.
6. Describe the degree to which the project is identified in, or furthers a specific goal of Iowa's Recreation Plan 1995 (SCORP), the Iowa Trails Plan or a regional/county/municipal plan.(10 points)
The Skunk River Water Trail project described in this proposal is a good fit with recreational plans at the state, county, and municipal level.
Iowa Trails Plan. The Iowa Trails Plan 2000 State Wide Trails Vision map (Attachment M) shows a greenway corridor along the Skunk River from Ellsworth to the Heart of Iowa Trail and a conceptual corridor connecting Webster City to Ellsworth. This proposal would enhance an existing recreationalgreenway corridor from Story City to Ames to near Cambridge.
The Skunk River Water Trail, as proposed, will meet recommended development guidelines for water trails as stated in the Iowa Trails Plan 2000 and endorsed by the Iowa Water Trails Association. These guidelines include:
access points situated at maximum intervals of 5 miles
camping and sanitary facilities situated at maximum intervals of 20 miles
portages kept to a minimum and with clear and established landings
accurate route information
signage directing users to the river and to inform users on the river
This plan also aligns with other elements of the vision for statewide trails valued by Iowa: The proposal involves a river with a diverse landscape, wildlife viewing potential, and ecosystem restoration opportunities. This plan is sensitive to agricultural uses, involves public land that’s close to population centers and existing transportation corridors, and is multiuse.
As a common link between an extensive public trail and park system, the water trail will better connect people with natural resources leading to increased use, appreciation and understanding.
Iowa’s Recreation Plan.The 2001 Iowa SCORP (Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan) cites a number of priorities for improved recreational opportunities in Iowa. Consistent with SCORP this project will address a number of these concerns. Specifically a water trail will provide a “close to home” activity for a wide number of age groups in a populated area of the state. Paddling sports are increasingly popular among Scouts, college students, families and retirees covering a wide demographic of users.
In general, this project addresses SCORP plan priorities to market outdoor recreational opportunities, develop partnerships between various agencies, preserving and promoting outdoor recreational opportunities and renovating and maintaining existing facilities for equal access for all persons. The trail project is also consistent with and directly supports the Iowa DNR’s promotion of fishing, canoeing and kayaking on the South Skunk River from Story City to the south edge of Story County and beyond (see Iowa Stream Fishing & Canoe Guides, Attachments K and L).
County and municipal plans.The Skunk River has been the center of trail development for several years, with existing and proposed trail facilities paralleling the river from Story City to Ames. Beginning in the 1970’s, the Story County Conservation Board, in cooperation with Story City and Ames, has maintained a series of river access points. To compliment an extensive land-based trail system, the Story County Conservation Board has recently added this project as a high priority to diversify recreational opportunities in the county. The city of Ames, as part of its Capital Improvement Plan and consistent with the multiuse aspect of this project, will be developing a trail parallel to the river from near Ada Hayden Park to the Youth Sports Complex.
7. Describe the degree to which the project uses the grant funds to leverage greater public or private investments (in the form of services and materials, as well as dollars.)(10 points)
Recreational Trails Program grant funds will bring together the time and labor from Story County Conservation, the Story County Engineer, Ames Parks & Recreation Department, and Story City Parks & Recreation Department. Services of local community and university student volunteers from Story County Conservation, Skunk River Paddlers and the Skunk River Navy will be used to place materials purchased with grant funds.
Story County Conservation, Story City and Story County have all committed significant amounts of assistance for engineering, project coordination, labor and equipment in addition to the local volunteers. These contributions are particularly significant in these times of constrained county and city budgets and represent a strong level of local support for this project.
Prairie Rivers RC&D has received pledges from private individuals for at least $2,000 at this time for work on the Water Trail that will be used to match grant funds as needed. This commitment is included in a letter (Attachment O).
8. Describe the degree of citizen involvement in proposal conception and implementation.
a) Project idea originated with trail users or a community group which has substantial knowledge of the area and its residents; and
b) the private sector (including individual citizens, community groups or local business enterprises) has participated in development of the proposal idea and has made commitments of labor, money or materials to support proposal implementation. (10 points)
a. Project idea origination. This plan for improvements to the Upper Skunk River Water Trail was conceived by a community group, the Skunk River Paddlers, and other individuals interested in water recreation in the county and across central Iowa. The Skunk River Paddlers is a local canoe and kayak group that promotes conservation and environmental awareness through volunteerism, education, and stewardship. It is involved in recreation, education and conservation activities and has spearheaded earlier Skunk River improvement projects.
In 2002, the Skunk River Paddlers made improvements to the canoe landing at River Valley Park in Ames, and together with other Story County Conservation volunteers and the Skunk River Navy (an educational & community service organization of the Iowa State University Biology Department), constructed a switchback trail across a steep slope at the E18 Canoe Access.
Early in 2003, The Skunk River Paddlers approached the Story County Conservation Board about its interest in improving the Skunk River Canoe Trail and in extending the trail to connect with other public areas that now exist. Following these conversations, the Skunk River Paddlers initiated talks with potential supporters. These included the ISU Canoe and Kayak Club, the ISU Outdoor Recreation Services, Iowa White Water Association, Central Iowa Paddlers, Skunk River Navy, Prairie Rivers RC&D, Story County Soil & Water Conservation District, Story City and Ames Parks and Recreation Departments, the Story County Engineer, bird watchers, cyclists, skiers, fishing enthusiasts, area businesses and others about their interest in the Skunk River Water Trail. From these conversations, an ad hoc coalition was formed.
The Skunk River Water Trail Coalition has been involved in the plans each step of the way over the past several months. Members of this group are residents of Story County and regularly canoe, kayak, or cross-country ski on the Skunk River. Carol Williams, Story County Conservation Special Projects Ranger, and Steve Lekwa, Director of Story County Conservation, have been actively involved in the application process.
b. Participation by the private sector and other groups. Representatives of the Skunk River Water Trails Coalition have met with Story County Conservation, the Story County Engineer, and Park Staff at both Story City and Ames to obtain their input and approval. Representatives also have visited with various interest and user groups and local businesses to gather their input and support, as reflected in the letters of support (Attachment P). The Skunk River Navy and the Skunk River Paddlers have committed labor and time, and the Prairie Rivers RC&D has pledged funding (Attachment O) if this Recreational Trails Program grant is awarded.
9. Describe the degree to which the project ties into other trails; greenways; scenic corridors; or natural, cultural, historical and recreational areas.(10 points) The South Skunk River is a natural and scenic corridor that flows through and links several public areas already used for recreation, the largest being McFarland, Peterson, and River Valley Parks. The Water Trail has served as an outdoor classroom for history, ecology, conservation and wildlife study as well as a recreational corridor that provides canoeing, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, nature watching and snowmobiling.
Attachment Q highlights the ecological, cultural, recreational and historical significance of the South Skunk River along the Water Trail and how this river and its creeks have and continue to influence the people of Story County. The South Skunk River flows past once favored Indian hunting grounds, burial mounds, the first European immigrant settlements along the river and its creeks, former mills, pioneer graveyards, old stagecoach routes, quarries and three of its surviving towns in Story County. Its former wetlands shaped Ames, the largest town in Story County, just as its ongoing periodic flooding and droughts continue to do.
10. Describe the degree of commitment to continue operation and maintenance of the project after grant money is no longer available.(10 points) All facilities are on existing public lands, are currently maintained as public areas, and are expected to be so in the future. Story County Conservation has committed to operate and maintain the proposed facilities for 20 years, as documented in their endorsement of the project (Attachment G). Letters of endorsement from the Story City Council and the Ames Parks & Recreation Board are pending their approval.
11. The degree the project will result in the cleanup of an area. Litter and illegal dumping are ongoing concerns at several of these public areas. Proposed improvements will lead to increased use, awareness and appreciation of the public area, and together with educational materials included in each kiosk, will help to encourage oversight and stewardship of both the river and access areas.
The Skunk River Paddlers and other local groups and individuals participate in the Story County Conservation Adopt-A-Park program, and the Skunk River Paddlers, Skunk River Navy, and other groups organize and participate in river clean-ups. The improved launch/landing areas will facilitate removal of trash from the river during these clean-up events.
Narrative (A NARRATIVE assessing existing conditions, outlining the concept of the proposed project, and providing adequate project justification. The narrative must show that the concept is reasonable from a transportation engineering and/or recreational standpoint and is part of an area wide, local, regional, or statewide plan).
Project justification.The Skunk River is currently promoted by both Story County and the Iowa DNR as appropriate for canoeing and fishing (see Attachments I, J, K, and L). The river, greenbelt trails and adjacent parklands are used by a diverse and varied group of people. However, many existing access points are rough, steep and limit safe, frequent use by the general public. In part this is due to excessive grade and unstable surfaces. The improvements proposed in this project address these primary barriers to create a much more attractive and usable river access for all users. In addition to making these access points safer and more stable, this project also improves handicapped accessibility (See supporting letter from resident David DenHaan).
This project will make needed improvements to existing access areas between Story City and Ames, and will add three new access areas to extend the trail an additional 10 miles. With the proposed addition of signs and informational kiosks, the Skunk River Canoe Trail will meet all of the guidelines for water trails set forth in the Iowa Trails Plan 2000.
Proposed improvements. This proposal would improve existing access sites and add 10 miles and three additional access areas to the existing canoe trail. Proposed improvements include signs, informational kiosks, and the renovation or development of launch and landing areas. The Story County Engineer has been involved in the planning and engineering of these improvements.
The proposed water trail coincides with a Skunk River Greenway illustrated in the Iowa Trails Plan 2000 Statewide Trails Vision Map (Attachment M). This section of the river is used regularly. It has proven to be suitable for multiuse recreation, including snowmobiling and non-motorized uses such as fishing, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. The Story County Engineer has been involved in project discussions. And no waterway changes are needed. These proposed improvements will increase awareness and will generate interest in and support for the care and protection of these resources.
Existing conditions and proposed improvements. For a complete listing of existing conditions and proposed improvements for each access point and/or bridge along the proposed Water Trail, please refer to Attachments E-2 and E-3.
H. Narrative (A NARRATIVE discussing the extent to which adjacent property owners have been informed of the proposed project and an assessment of their acceptance. The award of Federal Recreational Trails funds; any subsequent letting of contract for design, construction, reconstruction, improvement, or maintenance; or the furnishing of materials shall not involve direct or indirect interest, prohibited by Iowa Code Sections 314.2, 362.5 or 331.342, of any state, county, or official, elective or appointive. Any award of Federal Recreational Trail funding or any letting of a contract in violation of the foregoing provisions shall invalidate the award of Federal Recreational Trails funding and authorize a complete recovery of any funds previously disbursed).
The Skunk River Canoe Trail and its associated access areas are already widely used by paddlers, swimmers, and, in winter, cross country skiers, hikers, and snowmobilers. With the exception of the proposed portage sign and trail at US Filter, all improvements will take place on public lands. Steve Lekwa, Director of Story County Conservation, met with officials at US Filter to discuss safety improvements at that location and is now negotiating a public easement. Property owners along the river, and particularly the existing canoe trail, are already aware of the frequent public use of these areas.
The Skunk River Water Trail has been on the agenda at the Story County Conservation Board and other group’s open meetings. Articles on the Skunk River Water Trail improvements and extension were published in the Ames Tribune and in the Story County Conservation Partners newsletter, Prairie Horizons, both of which are widely distributed.