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Water sifted sands can be fine art

August 27, 2011
By GARRY BRANDENBURG , Times-Republican

Geologists call it Base Flow. This term means that the majority of the water in area streams and rivers is from the surrounding slow leakage from the water table of surrounding lands. There is very little surface runoff to contribute new water. In fact, the water is so low that tubers or canoeists might have trouble keeping their craft in deep enough water to float. Walking the river for many miles is not the option recreationists had in mind. Hiking for miles in sand and shallow ankle deep water gets tiring really fast.

However, if one approaches an excursion on the Iowa River now as an adventure and plans ahead, the outcome is more related to a positive attitude that deals with the realities of nature as it comes. No complaining, just adapting to circumstances as they are offered. There will undoubtedly be future times when the river's mood swings full cycle to a new maximum flood. We just do not know when it will happen, but it will happen. Flooding and drought are a part of the natural geologic processes and mankind can only adapt, adapt or adapt.

Mark Ackleson, President of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), noted in his remarks in the summer issue of the INHF's magazine, "floodplains flood, that is what they do." Floodplains and flooding don't wait for people writing thick self-pontificating paper reports trying to determine how to manage around flood times. "The best we can do", says Ackelson, "is invest in natural flood prevention. Let's support farm programs and land use planning that protects natural resources and reduces flooding risks." He adds, "we have to 'let the river be a river' not a channelized drain merely for our convenience."

Article Photos

Quiz time: Today’s photo is either (A) the pectoral fin of a giant Iowa River Icthyosouras, or (B) a very shallow sand bar sculpted by water currents to resemble a fish fin. Hint: Choice “B” would be the truth. This author spotted the unusual sand bar from the overhead perspective of an airplane last week. It was too good to pass up. Due to a long spell of hot dry weather, the Iowa River’s stage is running very low at less than 350 cubic feet per second. During the height of the flood of June 13, 2008, water in the Iowa River was running at 22,388 cubic feet per second. Flood waters of June 2008 were over 12 feet higher than what currently exists in the river today.


This scribe recently watched the IPTV specials called "Outdoor Iowa." Two segments dealt with the Bald Eagles who chose a nest site near Decorah. It was interesting to watch the clips of the eggs hatching, the mature eagles caring for young, watching as the eaglets grew and eventually their first flight. I was especially delighted to see Mr. Anderson, the eagle camera guru, do an "eagle dance" when his group successfully captured one of the young eagles in order to place a transmitter and harness on its back.

Now know as D-1, (Decorah eaglet number 1 with a GPS package), the female eagle is broadcasting its location to the world via the GPS transmitter. As of the middle of August, the eagle had meandered north to the Chippewa River in Wisconsin, not far from the Minnesota border. Future locations of this bird and its flight route should prove very interesting for biologists and researchers. This research is about the science, conservation and education of Bald Eagles. During the camera recorded nesting and eaglet rearing time, online computer viewers totaled over 100 million folks from just about every country in the world. The adult eagles will be back this coming January to do it all over again.


WATERFOWL preparations for fall hunting are getting underway. Hunters are readying their firearms and their hand eye coordination at the range. This weekend, Saturday and Sunday, is "Waterfowl Weekend" at Sportsman's Warehouse in Ankeny. Seminars and product demonstrations will be offered by top waterfowlers and manufacturers, as well as there being additional in-store waterfowling activities.

Locally, on Sunday, DUCKS UNLIMITED will host its annual trap shoot and fundraiser at the gun range located west of the Marshalltown Airport. Start time is 11 a.m. The practice round will start at 11 a.m. and then two scoring rounds will take place in the afternoon. Lunch and all the activities will cost $30 per shooter.

Do mark your calendars for a Youth Waterfowl Fun Field Day on Oct. 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Polk County Conservation area Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, 8600 NE 126th Ave., Maxwell. Youth participants will watch a professional dog trainer, learn about wetland ecosystems, practice duck calling, shoot clay "ducks" on the trap range, learn decoy sets and waterfowl identification. A cooking demonstration of waterfowl will also be given to turn nature's fast flying food into people food.

One week later, on Oct. 9, from 5 a.m. until noon, a mentored youth waterfowl hunt will take place. Kids ages 12 -15 years will meet at the Chichaqua Long House for a hunter's breakfast. Teams will be created and assigned to blinds in the controlled 88 acre waterfowl hunting area. To find out all the requirements, costs and particulars for registration call 515-323-5300 or use the website


Construction work on the new segment of the bike trail adjacent to Highway 30 is going well. Paving should have been completed this past week. Shoulder work and preparation for seeding will follow. While construction is on-going, the trail is closed. Closed also is the existing trail adjacent to Highway 330 toward Melbourne. Repairs on several segments of that trail are taking place. Construction crews have work to do and are operating heavy equipment. Do not cross barriers to the trail. There will be an appropriate announcement of trail re-opening after the work is finished. Thanks for your patience.


Garry Brandenburg is a graduate of Iowa State University with BS degree in Fish & Wildlife Biology. He is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. Contact him at PO Box 96, Albion, IA 50005.



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