May 26, 2023

Water is — and always has been — a source of vitality. In Iowa, our local rivers, streams, and creeks provide the water that eventually flows from the tap in our homes. Like any other natural resource, water deserves to be protected and stewarded, and it’s up to us to work together to keep this critical asset clean and safe. As an additional benefit, elevating our natural resources also boosts economic development, which aids in leveraging new jobs and talent, retaining thriving companies, and growing our population here in Central Iowa.

Conservation within ICON

Already, there is tremendous collaboration between the public and private sectors across our region and state with the unified vision of stewarding our waterways. Just over a month ago, ICON Water Trails broke ground on the first of its downtown sites — Principal Point at the Scott Avenue bridge — marking a major step forward for the initiative that is working to strategically invest $125 million in rivers, creeks, and streams in Central Iowa. At its core, ICON is about connection, and it, like many other organizations in our state, is advocating for our waterways at a grass-roots level: reconnecting Iowans with their river roots.

About Riverfest

On May 19 Iowa Rivers Revival, ICON Water Trails, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Polk County, and Polk County Conservation, City of Des Moines Parks and Rec, and the IDNR, hosted the first annual Riverfest, a river cleanup event at the Birdland Marina at Captain Roy’s. This family-friendly event featured live music, free food, and educational programming in the form of water quality activities for the whole community around Birdland Marina. As a result, 90 volunteers cleaned up over 800 pounds of trash from four sites in and around the area including Prospect Park, Union Park, Birdland Marina itself, and even up and around the skatepark as well.

Future Opportunities

This event is one of many coming Service Squad cleanup events, a new comprehensive service learning and direct action program to clean up Iowa’s waterways by Iowa Rivers Revival in partnership funded by Polk County and the IDNR. Service Squad will create cleaner rivers, educate Iowa’s residents on the importance of clean waterways, and help participants take action on issues relating to water trails and water quality. Service Squad will host eight river cleanups each year. Visit to sign up for our next cleanup event, and learn more.

Rivers are a significant source of drinking water and represent an essential natural resource. With collaboration and community engagement, we can protect them for future generations. We encourage you to join us in this effort.

About the Authors: Luke Hoffman is the Executive Director of Iowa Rivers Revival. Luke loves the outdoors and grew up in small-towns across Iowa. Luke now lives in Downtown Des Moines (DSM) near Gray’s Lake and is a member of the Tall Dog Bike Club. He has a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Jay Byers is the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, on the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Executive Board, Board of Directors and Community Growth Education Foundation, the General Council of the World Chambers Federation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100.

Hannah Inman is a dynamic leader in the conservation space who excels in cross-sector collaboration and dynamic placemaking facilitation. With more than a decade of experience in advocacy and philanthropy, Inman has shepherded major Central Iowa initiatives, including Iowa by Trail — a comprehensive trail app — the Jester Park Nature Center, Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bonds, and the $30 million private capital campaign for ICON Water Trails. She has been recognized for her contributions, both personally and professionally, with esteemed awards, including the Business Record’s Emerging Woman of Influence and Forty Under 40. Inman received her B.A. in Political Science and Journalism from the University of Iowa and her Executive MBA from Iowa State University.