November 18, 2021

DES MOINES, IA (Nov. 18, 2021) – The Great Outdoors Foundation is pleased to announce a $500,000 investment from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield that will activate an accessible canoe and kayak launch as part of the improvements of ICON Water Trails at Birdland Marina. ICON’s initiatives at Birdland Marina will happen in conjunction with the City of Des Moines’ master plan, projected to move forward in the early summer of 2023. When complete, it will serve as the main put-in location for the future downtown whitewater course.

ICON Water Trails connects 80+ improvements across 150 miles of waterways with accessibility at its core. This regional effort is a collaboration between a dozen jurisdictional partners working alongside representatives from throughout the private sector. With roughly $26 million raised privately, the capital campaign is more than 75 percent complete.

“We are thrilled to see major employers from the region investing in our community,” Hannah Inman, CEO of the Great Outdoors Foundation, the project’s fiscal sponsor, said. “ICON’s capital campaign has received tremendous support from the local business sector, and we are fortunate to have donors like Wellmark who recognize the importance of outdoor recreation.”

“Wellmark is committed to continuously improving the health of our members and the communities we serve. ICON Water Trails will provide new opportunities for Iowans of all abilities to enjoy our state’s amazing natural resources,” said Cory Harris, Wellmark’s President and CEO. “We’re excited to partner with the ICON board of directors and the countless community leaders working together to make this transformative project a reality.”

“Accessibility is at the heart of ICON,” Maggie McClelland, Director of ICON Water Trails, said. “Wellmark’s investment is another demonstration of the value this community places on making our waterways available, approachable and usable for everyone.”

ICON completed its first grassroots fundraising campaign, 80 Days of ICON, last month. Now, grassroots supporters have the opportunity to donate to the cause alongside corporate partners like Wellmark. To learn more or give, visit

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. Learn more at Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Wellmark, Inc. ( does business as Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa. Wellmark and its subsidiaries and affiliated companies, including Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc., insure or pay health benefit claims for more than 2 million members in Iowa and South Dakota. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Dakota, Wellmark Health Plan of Iowa, Inc., and Wellmark Value Health Plan, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.