January 23, 2023
DES MOINES, IA (January 23, 2023) – The Great Outdoors Foundation is pleased to announce that the MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund, a $5 million investment in ICON Water Trails, has awarded its $125,000 fall grant to the City of Urbandale. The funding will be used to establish access to North Walnut Creek within Walker Johnston Regional Park, a recommendation outlined in the 86 improvements of the original ICON feasibility study.
ICON Water Trails is a collaborative initiative aimed at connecting 150 miles of waterways in twelve jurisdictions across Central Iowa. Its strategic design leverages outdoor recreation to promote conservation and water safety while driving workforce development and tourism attraction throughout the region. There are 14 active sites within ICON that are open and available for use, but the expansive network is set to grow over the next year, including the addition of the aforementioned access point in Urbandale. Additionally, ICON will break ground on the first of its five downtown sites — at the Scott Avenue dam — this spring.
“MidAmerican Energy Company is proud to support ICON’s jurisdictional partners to further its priorities of environmental conservation, safety, economic development, workforce and tourism attraction and access to outdoor recreation,” Kathryn Kunert, Vice President of Economic Connections and Integration for MidAmerican Energy, said. “The City of Urbandale’s vision for this site encompasses all that the regional fund aims to achieve, and we look forward to seeing its impact on the landscape of the community.”
“This project aims to introduce new generations to the beauty and recreational opportunities of North Walnut Creek, while also fostering stewardship and a deeper appreciation for nature,” Jan Herke, Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Urbandale, said. “We believe this project will have a positive impact on our community and are grateful for the support of MidAmerican Energy and the Great Outdoors Foundation.”
Along with adding access to North Walnut Creek, the improvements at the new ICON site in Urbandale include
- Reforestation and wooded greenbelt restoration.
- Installation of limestone stairs.
- Addition of interpretive signage.
- Completion of an outdoor classroom.
- Construction of an accessible trail.
“The MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund is an exemplary model for collaboration,” Hannah Inman, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Outdoors Foundation, said. “This investment in our region is maximizing existing momentum and activating the conservation strategy behind ICON Water Trails to deliver measurable benefits throughout our community.”
Applications for the next round of grants will open up in the spring for ICON’s jurisdictional partners.
About Great Outdoors Foundation
The Great Outdoors Foundation is a non-profit that provides funding for outdoor recreation and conservation projects in Central Iowa. The Great Outdoors Foundation is Central Iowa’s pathway to sustainable, healthy environments. We are a regional conservation leader and catalyst for high-impact, environmental projects. We convene partners with a shared vision, drive collaboration and raise awareness and funds. Driven by our clear purpose, we challenge ourselves to seek and take on partner projects offering exceptional and long-term impact requiring a regional approach and creative funding.
About ICON Water Trails
Iowa Confluence Water Trails — ICON, for short — will connect 80+ improvements across 150 miles of rivers and creeks in Central Iowa. Initiated by the Central Iowa Water Trails Consortium, including Capital Crossroads, Catch Des Moines, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines Area MPO, Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Great Outdoors Foundation, ICON represents a new commitment to water safety and conservation as well as a concerted effort to drive economic development, visitor attraction and workforce retention.