December 14, 2020

2020 has been the year for the outdoors. It has been a refuge and provided solitude as we have endured a year of challenge. It has been our friend and offered comfort in times of need and allowed us to take a breath while we think about the heaviness of our lives. The great outdoors has given us opportunity, just as Central Iowa Water Trails has done.

For 2020 Central Iowa Water Trails (CIWT) has seen a new outfitter partnership offering kayak rentals at the access point along Beaver Creek. Read what Mayor Paula Dierenfeld has to say about the opportunities to explore the water in the heart of Johnston, Iowa. The offerings continue to grow, with more and more aquatic adventures to be had here. The year has also seen funds raised, collaborations with local associations and more. See a roundup of items below:

2020 Accomplishments

A little over a year ago, the Central Iowa Water Trails received a $25 million grant from the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program thanks to a submission developed by the Des Moines Area MPO, in close collaboration with Catch Des Moines, Great Outdoors Foundation, Greater Des Moines Partnership, Capital Crossroads and Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. In 2020, 60% of the design has been completed, with efforts including creating a public input process and drafting a homeless mitigation strategy.

Other successes include:

CIWT rebranding with Strategic America and Spawn Ideas

Strategic Communications Initiative launch

Relationship building with state and federal lobbyists

Note: The CIWT now plays a key role in the Governor’s Economic Recovery Task Force

  • $20 million raised in private funds
  • Inclusion Design Tool finalized
  • CIWT Governance Structure

Note: 17 jurisdictions began work to determine bylaws, draft a regional agreement, hold working group meetings, etc.

  • NEA Grant for Shoreline Signals received by Polk County and Bravo Greater Des Moines helped kick off a public art plan
  • Collaboration with Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers on Seeds of Change, which identifies those committed to soil health
  • Added water quality monitoring to 10 new sites, coordinating with existing sites

These successes represent the cooperative spirit of the Greater Des Moines community, even during the challenging times we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leadership from organizations across the region are committed to the mission of the CIWT and continue to find ways to move its initiatives forward. So, what can you expect in 2021? There are some exciting things on the horizon.

What’s Next in 2021

Next year, the CIWT hopes to continue to evolve from a start-up into a more sustainable organizational infrastructure for the long-term. Along with that, moving forward on the various projects is fundamental as well, including completing strategy/timeline for downtown and regional sites, as well as funding and designing the other downtown dam mitigation projects.

Work will also be focused on the following items:

  • Completion of design and permitting for BUILD grant by June 2021
  • Creation of logo/website/CIWT name
  • Continue the private fundraising efforts
  • Completion of the governance process, including formation of a new CIWT organization with added positions and 28E agreements executed
  • Updating of the CIWT business plan
  • Selection of proposal and execution of the Shoreline Signals project in order to educate the public on water safety while also connecting area waterways
  • Establishment of a public notification strategy and platform

As outlined above, the CIWT continues to be a top priority for Capital Crossroads and every organization, both public and private, partnering to support the project which aims to raise the quality of life for those in the region. To see the status of specific waterway projects, click here.

We hope you’re encouraged by our 2020 achievements and are looking forward to what’s to come in 2021. If you’d like to take action and become a part of these successes, fill out our contact form to receive the CIWT newsletter and other information on how to get more involved. You can make a difference in transforming our community and continuing to add amenities that transform Greater Des Moines and further distinguish it as an ideal place to live, work and play.

About the Author: Hannah Inman, Chief Executive Officer for Great Outdoors Foundation. The Great Outdoors Foundation is Central Iowa’s pathway to sustainable, healthy environments. The Great Outdoors Foundation is a regional conservation leader and a catalyst for high impact environmental projects. They convene partners with a shared vision, drive collaboration, and raise awareness and funds. The priority initiatives expand and restore natural spaces, foster outdoor recreation, promote conservation and build passion for nature.