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Popular central Iowa paddling destination closed

  • 5/10/2022 1:52:00 PM
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This week’s warm weather is perfect for paddlers to get out on rivers. Water recreationists should be aware of bridge construction projects across Iowa.

The water trail from Walnut Woods State Park to Water Works Park in Des Moines is closed due to a construction project on Hwy. 28 over the Raccoon River. Signs are posted at Walnut Woods State Park and upstream of the construction site.

Check the Iowa DNR’s interactive paddling map at www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Where-to-Paddle to help plan paddling trips and avoid bridge construction areas.

“Air temperatures are starting to warm, but the water is still cold,” said Todd Robertson, River Programs Water Trails coordinator with the Iowa DNR. “We have not had enough consistently warm days to raise water temperatures. Cold water shock and hypothermia can set in quickly.”

Stay away from strainers and sweepers—wood or branch piles—deadly hazards that can pull a paddler under or pin them underwater. These are usually found on outside river bends where currents are strongest, but can be found anywhere on rivers including at the base of bridge piers.

Review these simple safety tips before heading out on the water.

  • Wear a properly-fitted life jacket at all times while on the water, regardless of swimming ability. Life jackets help keep your head above water and maintain warmth.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Plan as if you were to be in the water at some point. Do not wear cotton clothing—it fails to insulate when wet. Choose synthetics or wool. Dress in layers so you can peel a layer off if overheated.
  • Always bring a dry bag with a complete set of extra clothes to change into if you get wet, a first-aid kit and a protected cell phone or weather radio. Get out of wet, cold clothing as soon as possible. Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Let someone know where you’re going and when your expected to return. It will be easier to find you if you need help.
  • Explore the Iowa DNR’s water trail map library at iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Water-Trail-Maps-Brochures for individual water trail maps, including access points and some history information.

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