EP 805 | Iowa Outdoors

EP 805 | Iowa Outdoors


Hi, I’m Kellie Kramer. And I’m Scott Siepker. Welcome to Central Iowa. And our latest edition
of Iowa Outdoors. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Coming up on this episode of Iowa Outdoors — We follow the construction of Des Moines’
first flow trail. Visit an urban eye sore
turned recreation site. Take to the skies
over Lake Red Rock. Learn to shoot, fish and
row with Eastern Iowa youth. And explore another
Trail in a Minute. We’ll have all
that and more. So sit tight, Iowa
Outdoors is about to begin. Funding for Iowa Outdoors
is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov. Adventure in the outdoors
comes in many different forms. Today, we’ll see the
outdoors through the eyes of grade-schoolers
experiencing a great deal of what it has to offer,
as well as visit a well-known Iowa landfill
turned recreation destination. But first, strap on your
bike helmets, we’re about to go for a wild ride. Mountain biking continues
to gain in popularity. And now riders can enjoy a
series of trails that are the first of their
kind in Central Iowa. They’re called flow
trails, described as bike powered roller
coasters made of dirt. And we followed along from
the very beginning as the crew built the trails at
Ewing Park in Des Moines. ♪♪ There’s speed,
jumps and an adrenaline rush. It didn’t take long for
mountain bikers to fall in love with the new flow
trails at Ewing Park on the Southeast side of Des
Moines. ♪♪ Carson
Schnenck: It’s fun. It’s nothing like anything
else here in Iowa, that’s for sure. Carrie Topp: It was very
invigorating and I found myself holding my breath
for some of those jumps. So, you can definitely get
some speed and it is a real good flow. A flow trail
is gravity fed. Your momentum carries you
downhill from start to finish without stopping. On a trail with smooth,
banked turns and no unforeseen obstacles, it’s
a common type of trail in places like Colorado,
but not around here. Lori Henning: It was
fun, a lot of fun. Fast, flowing, a lot
different than the mountain bike trails. So definitely a good added
thing for Des Moines and Iowa. ♪♪ We have featured
other mountain biking trails on Iowa Outdoors. But this time, we’re
showing you the creative and construction
processes in the works. We’re following along as
James Flatten and his crew from Single Track Trails
in Colorado dig, scoop, pile and mold the dirt
flow trails, transforming the grass and trees on
this Ewing Park hillside into an entertaining
downhill adventure. James Flatten: Oh yeah
I love it, definitely. I’ve been building jumps
and what not since I was a wee lad though. So, I’ve always done it,
always shaped dirt, always like shaping stuff. So I guess the whole
creative aspect of it is cool, not a lot of feature
as far as natural features in the ground. To be able to bring in
dirt, shape it into a nice, that’s going to be
something fun, that looks nice, is another
part of it. And then just getting
people in the woods or out on a trial is good too,
that part of it is really rewarding. The crew starts with a
rough plan, wrapping turns around trees, using
natural features and hauling in load after load
of dirt to create new berms, tabletops and rollers. Ideas develop and
change as construction progresses. Flatten: So there will be
four total that go down and then one that pedals
back up from the bottom. Figuring out do we want to
step up here or step down or just do some rollers,
what’s the angle of this berm, how tight is it
going to be, all that stuff kind of changes as
it kind of starts to take shape. You start at the top and
start working your way down. It’s important for James
to hop on his own bike and test drive the trail
features as he goes to make sure he’s getting
the desired results. He uses his expertise as
a rider to know if a turn needs to be tweaked or
when a jump is just right. Flatten: When you have
jumps or something that is kind of speed sensitive
it’s definitely good to give some test rides and
just to make sure because everywhere you work the
dirt is going to be different. It has different speeds. Definitely changed some
things as we went and for that reason mainly get
to building some stuff, you’re like oh I have
more or less speed than I thought, we should do
this, that or the other to compensate for that. Central Iowa Trails
Association, or CITA, raised the roughly $30,000
to build the flow trails. The non-profit
organization oversees several single track or
natural surface trails in Central Iowa. The city still owns the
Ewing Park land, but CITA will take care of the
trails, an ongoing and important job as dirt
flow trails require more maintenance than
many other trails. Aaron Vance: I would say
that in the experienced biking community people
are very familiar with this concept and will
definitely be excited to have it locally. But I think there will be
a whole other, and this is our hope, another
contingent of riders, kids, my own kids, getting
them out on this kind of trail and experiencing
something new. Experts recommend using a
bike with beefier tires, definitely not
a road bike. But you don’t necessarily
need top-of-the-line suspension or technical
equipment popular on rocky, higher
elevation trails. These trails are designed
for beginner and intermediate level riders. If you’re an experienced
rider, there’s enough here to enjoy. And if you’re new to the
sport, it’s a great place to learn, grow and
challenge yourself. It’s fast and you have to
keep your speed or else you’re going to get a lot
of air, which I’m not necessarily used to. Vance: It’s the excitement
of doing it though, I think sometimes that
adrenaline of not necessarily being
completely afraid, but at least on edge that
something exciting is happening. You definitely just want
to keep your eyes up and just stay loose on your
bike and just kind of let the design of the trail
dictate where you’re going. You don’t really have
to force anything. It’s there for you. You’ve just got to go
with the flow really. I would just say take it
at your own comfort speed and don’t be ashamed to
slow down if you have to. It’s like a skier going
and you wander out of the black diamond because it’s
cool, it looks sweet, everyone wants to do that,
but you should definitely just take your time and
work on your braking skills, work on your
cornering, all that final, have all those good
mechanics down before you try other stuff and your
life will be prolonged. (laughter) The idea for
these trails began years before they finally
became reality. But now, whether you’re a
novice slowly learning the ropes, or an adventure
seeker looking to catch some air, you don’t
have to travel far. James calls it dirt
surfing and now he has built the place for you
to do it right here in Central Iowa. Is it kind of a thrill? Oh yeah, especially
when you get air. That’s one of the best
feelings in the world right there. Flatten: I think it’s
pretty sweet, man. The community
will be happy. A lot of them come out of
there kind of glowing I guess you could call
it, really just happy. The amount of adrenaline,
just having a good time, I think they’re going
to have a lot of fun. ♪♪ Along the banks of
the Cedar River rests a monolith of manmade waste
slowly rising for decades. When historic floods
ravaged Cedar Rapids in 2008, the pile grew larger
and an unlikely outdoor opportunity began
to take shape. Amid our state’s second
largest metro area, the story of Mount Trashmore
serves as a lesson of ingenuity and
perseverance. ♪♪ ♪♪ Resting
along the southern edge of Iowa’s second most
populous city, a large mound juts out
along the horizon. Overlooking the Cedar
River and the nearby Czech Village in Cedar Rapids,
this hill is intertwined with the history of this
Eastern Iowa valley. For a half century, this
mound affectionately dubbed Mount Trashmore by
local residents, was the final destination for the
city’s garbage and solid waste. Considered by many
residents as an unsightly trash pile on the horizon,
this manmade mountain reached its planned
expiration date in the early 2000s. Landfills are often capped
and monitored for decades by the Iowa DNR as the
waste underneath breaks down and slowly
emits methane. Joe Horaney: Mount
Trashmore is a closing capped landfill in Cedar
Rapids opened back in 1965. It formerly was a quarry,
then was used to take in garbage. We used to get folks all
the time who tell us, I used to drive down in
there to drop off the garbage. And over the years it
has gone up and gone up. The region’s trash would
be shifted to a new facility northeast of
Cedar Rapids, but an unexpected natural
disaster would change everything. ♪♪ In the summer of
2008, a deluge of moisture upstream sent the Cedar
River to record levels. The unprecedented rush of
water flooded downtown ravaged the historic Czech
Village and decimated nearby neighborhoods. ♪♪ As devastating
as the floods were, the reality of cleanup was far
more impactful long-term. River water was entrenched
in buildings for days, meaning entire
neighborhoods would require complete
demolition. After years of local,
state and federal government negotiation
with landowners, the enormous task of solid
waste disposal became clear. Many of the neighborhoods
stood at the foot of now closed Mount Trashmore. A state exemption allowed
the solid waste agency to reopen the landfill. Horaney: It actually
closed back in 2007 and then the floods of 2008
hit Cedar Rapids and we realized for cleanup
efforts it would be a lot faster if folks could use
that location down there because it was right in
the middle of all of it. We got permission from the
Governor of Iowa to reopen it. And then for four years,
from 2008 to 2012, it took in over 420,000 tons of
debris from the floods of 2008. ♪♪ An endless parade
of dump trucks began trekking entire
neighborhoods of debris up the hill. ♪♪ An incredible
430,000 additional tons of debris were added to the
pile, raising the manmade mountain an additional 30
feet high before it was capped once again. Horaney: So after the
floods we’re talking homes, anything that
basically was damaged by the floods. So many neighborhoods in
Cedar Rapids just aren’t there anymore. Just outside the gates of
the landfill down there, the former landfill, all
the homes that were in the Czech Village area, those
have been raised, they’re part of a green zone now. So there’s homes in there,
there’s businesses, mostly it’s people’s memories
of their lives. A decade after the
historic floods, a new recreation vision is
taking shape on the infamous and highly
visible landfill. The region’s solid waste
agency has spearheaded an effort to transform a
mountain of trash into a majestic overlook. ♪♪ ♪♪ Horaney:
Mount Trashmore can’t be out of sight
or out of mind. It is a visible reminder
whenever you’re in downtown Cedar Rapids, you
look up and you can see it. So it’s something that our
board of directors has been thinking
about for years. They knew that it was
going to be closing and so they had some plans
talking about some different ideas. Before the floods there
was actually a day that we let people go ski down
it and do some sledding, knowing that we
couldn’t really do that realistically in the
future, but just to show people that there was
going to be a future use for it. And then when the floods
hit that kind of all got put to the back burner
because we had to deal with the cleanup. But once it was closed and
capped again in 2012, that was something that was a
focus of our board right away. How do we turn around and
make this destination in Cedar Rapids, this
something that you can’t miss, how do we make this
something for the public that we can use, make it
accessible and make it something that can be
part of the community? The new Mount Trashmore
will have winding walking trails up to what some
locals call the best view of Cedar Rapids. Plans are underway to
build mountain bike trails for area adrenaline
junkies to mix with the casual outdoor explorer
seeking a photogenic moment. Horaney: We have our
scenic overlook that is at the top of it with a
pergola overlooking that Cedar River, a beautiful
view of downtown Cedar Rapids and right now
construction is underway on the trail system. So there’s going to be a
walking trail, a 5,000 foot walking trail that
will go from the base, work its way
up to the top. And then we also have a
service road that people will either walk or take
their bikes up to the top and once they get up
there, there’s going to be what is called a flow
trail for bicyclists to go back down and it’s going
to be a green level flow trail. So not quite the basic,
not the most advanced, but it will be a fun ride
for the bicyclists. The landfill is
permanently closed now and pipes surrounding the
giant mound will emit methane for
decades to come. But planners hope Mount
Trashmore becomes one of the lively spots in the
entire Cedar River Valley. Horaney: This will be a
chance for the community, for the people who did
lose those things in the flood, they can come back
in there and they can see yeah, we left a lot of
things in the past, but the future is very bright. Mount Trashmore may be the
clearest sign yet of a city coming to grips with
a natural disaster and turning a nightmare into a
public park, a mountain of trash that serves as a
monument to history with a practical purpose. Only in Cedar Rapids can
you stand on the garbage of the past half century,
enjoy the sites and sounds of nature, and take in
the best view in town. ♪♪ Some spots offer
an excellent opportunity to see Iowa with
360 degree views. As awesome as these views
can be, you’re still held in that one position. If you have the right
equipment, there’s no limitations to what you
can see, that is, if you view Iowa by air. ♪♪ Set just a few
hundred feet off the banks of Lake Red Rock, the
Cordova Tower rises above the relatively flat
landscape of Central Iowa. It provides visitors
with views unattainable anywhere else in
Marion County. ♪♪ With over 50,000
acres of land and water to explore, Lake Red Rock
is Iowa’s largest lake. And while Cordova Tower is
an excellent way to take it all in, it pales in
comparison to sites afforded to those
who take to the sky. ♪♪ Dammed in the late
1960s, Red Rock Reservoir artificially created much
of the lake’s shoreline. Even so, the hypnotic
mix of its time-eroded sandstone and gently
cresting waves invites visitors to explore the
area and uncover the unique secrets of
every rock ledge. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ While initially developed for flood control, Lake
Red Rock is a recreational gift to Iowa. And if you can’t fly over
its many treasures, the Cordova Tower offers an
excellent way to climb into the sky and
see Iowa by air. ♪♪ Think back to your
first outdoor experience that really formed
your love for nature. Did you discover
it on your own? Or did someone usher you
there and open your eyes to everything the
outdoors has to offer? At Jackson County’s annual
Youth Outdoor Skills Day, children are provided with
the perfect venue to try their hand at a plethora
of activities that might change the course
of their lives. ♪♪ ♪♪ Welcome
everyone to our annual Youth Outdoor Skills Day. ♪♪ We’ve got a lot
of great volunteers here today that are going to
lead the activities. These are people that are
knowledgeable about these skills, that are active
paddlers or geocachers or bow hunters and
things like that. For years, Jackson County
Conservation has held the belief that the best way
for the next generation to embrace the outdoors
is for the previous generation to show them
all the joy nature offers. And so its annual Youth
Outdoor Skills Day offers a bridge between community
members and children to discover a few of the
more hands-on outdoor activities. ♪♪ We have all
sorts of kids come out. It’s really kind
of fun to see. Some of the kids, their
parents are actively involved in outdoor
recreation, their families go hunting, go paddling
and do things outdoors. So of course those parents
want to expose their kids as much as possible. I also see a lot of
families where maybe the parents don’t do these
things but they want their kids to learn about them
and to try something different and new. And so it’s a good
opportunity for them to come out because they may
not have the equipment to do it themselves, so on a
day like today they can come out and try
these things. So, with perfect weather,
kids are presented with a half dozen activities that
might follow them the rest of their lives. There’s bow hunting,
shooting, geocaching, paddling, even first aid. Any and all of these
skills can become lifelong pursuits. We do offer different
things each year. Kids seem to enjoy
canoeing, kayaking, archery and shooting so we
continue those every year and then some of our
activities are just kind of varied throughout
the years. So it’s not just learning
a skill, it’s learning how to be safe. Does anybody know anything
about gun safety? Tell me what you know. Each station is run by
volunteers who have logged years participating
in that sport. Some even come from
organizations with a longstanding interest in
promoting the outdoors. I’m Luke. The Maquoketa Valley Ikes
just asked if we could help with the shooting
sports event of it. We’ve also got chapter
members down here teaching the archery. But I have been trained
through 4-H as a shooting sports instructor and Iowa
DNR scholastic clay target program as a shotgun
instructor, plus I just like shooting. ♪♪ It’s a fun sport. It’s a safe sport that
requires you to think at all times. Safety is one of the main
takeaways from the event. For nearly all
participants, the skills day will be the first time
holding a firearm or bow and arrow. An understanding all
they’re capable of and how to properly handle these
weapons is paramount. The safety is always
the number one issue. And the bow is safer in a
gun in that it can’t go off unless you
pull it back. With archery there’s
basically two types of shooters. One are target shooters. I’m a hunter and I’ve
hunted for over 40 years. If they get interested in
it young they’re more apt to carry through. And success for the day,
well it’s not exactly becoming a marksman. ♪♪ Some hit the
bullseye, we had a couple of kids who hit bullseyes. We had almost everybody
hit the target. Some shot in the weeds. That’s okay. The biggest thing was the
smiles that were on their faces. They enjoyed it immensely
and that’s what matters to me. (indistinguishable chatter) Off the range, the
activities are much more relaxed. And while it may not
involve bullseyes or triggers, sports like
fishing can churn up just as much passion. I used to do the hunting a
lot and things like that, but I just kind of focus
my life on one thing and that was fishing. And through the summer I
like the fishing, during the winter I kind of
recoup, clean up all my fishing equipment from
the summer and the interpretive center here,
I grab a bunch of their poles, I’ll take them and
clean them up and get them ready for next
year for the kids. Keith Dultz is a dedicated
fisherman and he takes great pride in lending
his expertise to Jackson County, especially
its youth. I’m an avid fisherman,
I just like taking kids fishing, I like to teach
them about fishing. Once they get out
here they have fun. Some of these kids haven’t
casted a pole today, before today, and after
two or three attempts they’re doing great
and they’re out here. So we’re trying to get
them more involved in the outdoors. ♪♪ For some children,
a single experience will light a fire inside them
that will burn their whole lives for the outdoors. But Jackson County
Conservation notes for lasting success, events
like the Youth Outdoor Skills Day need to be
frequent and interactive to truly build a community
of future outdoor enthusiasts. Jackson County is a rural
county and I feel like most people enjoy
going outside. We’ve got some
great parks. Hunting is a popular
activity here in Jackson County. And some of these kids go
to schools here in the county and our education
staff, we have outreach programs throughout the
school year so we get to know these kids. Over time they come out
for our day camp, public events as well as the
classroom presentations. So it’s nice to get to
know them and expose them over and over to some
outdoor and environmental things. One more thing about
safety — Counties across the state share the drive
to educate local youth on the wonders of nature. So if you don’t live near
Jackson County, don’t feel like you’re missing out. If you’re hoping to take
a child in your life on a valued trip to the
outdoors, the solution might be a quick phone
call to your local conservation office. It’s time for IPTV’s Trail
in a Minute where we show you a first person view of
a different Iowa hiking, biking or water
trail each episode. It’s a great way to
relive a previous outdoor experience or plan
a future adventure. And it’s a pretty cool way
to view the Iowa outdoors. Take a look. ♪♪ ♪♪ If you
find yourself getting bored fishing, boating and
swimming at Black Hawk State Park, maybe
hop on a bike. The area offers a perfect
six and a half mile loop around the lake. ♪♪ While there are
stretches of bike path and sidewalk, the majority of
the loop is on the road, so caution should be used
when peddling around the lake. ♪♪ As your ride
continues, so will the views, from the lake,
trees and wetlands, to homes and row crops. ♪♪ Black Hawk’s
campgrounds is one of the largest you’ll find in the
state park system, with modern amenities, all
kinds of recreation possibilities and plenty
of lakefront views. Eventually the path will
cut between docks and lakefront homes, a
peaceful ride that will make almost anyone
envious of the locals. ♪♪ Once you reach the
east and northern edge of the lake, you’ll come
across the public beachfronts, in case
you need to cool off. ♪♪ In the home
stretch of the loop, you’ll learn how the lake
received its name before you ride through town. And while this ride is
coming to a close, for those looking for a real
challenge, a 33 mile trail awaits. But that’s an entirely
different Trail in a Minute. ♪♪ That wraps up this
episode of Iowa Outdoors. We encourage you to get
outside and enjoy Iowa’s parks and recreational
opportunities. If you’re planning any
outdoors travel, check out our extensive video
archive of adventures at iptv.org/iowaoutdoors. While our episodes will
continue to bring you outdoor adventures over
the Iowa air waves, be sure to follow us on
Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for extended
features and extra content. And feel free to tag Iowa
Outdoors in your online posts. Who knows, you might
make it onto the show. For now, we’ll leave you
with more images of Iowa’s outdoor environments. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Funding for Iowa Outdoors is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov.

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