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River Project Provides Access to Nature and Community Benefits

September 9, 2019

Iowa's rivers have been an invaluable resource to the people who have called these lands home before we were even a state. They have supplied life-giving water, provided transportation, been keys to booming industries, and so much more. Today, our rivers are still all of these things, but with the popularity of recreational paddling, they are seeing more use than ever before. That is why the Buchanan County Conservation Board is embarking on a project to create greater connections to the river at a key gateway to the Wapsipinicon River.

The Iron Bridge Access is a picturesque location between Independence and Quasqueton in Buchanan County. With the explosion of paddlers, this entry to the river is seeing record traffic by an increasingly diverse group of outdoor enthusiasts. "We want people to get outdoors and discover beauty around them in Buchanan County," said Dan Cohen, Executive Director of the Buchanan County Conservation Board. "The Iron Bridge Access area is a critical entry location and we are excited for more people to find a love for Iowa's natural resources through this project."

The increase in interest and activity is great for Buchanan County, but it has also puts stress on current facilities and the Buchanan County Conservation Board recognizes their is an opportunity to create a safer, more enjoyable experience for all users of the Iron Bridge Access area. Now, with a $10,000 grant from the Buchanan County Community Foundation, a CFNEIA affiliate, the project is underway.

"We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received to carry out our plan," said Dan. "The grant from the Buchanan County Community Foundation gives us confidence that our local community members see the need and support our efforts."

According to Dan, the work will result in Iowa's first fully functional gateway access with universal launch on a state-designated water trail, meaning the site will be accessible for people with varied physical abilities and boating skills to safely access the Wapsipinicon River Corridor. The completion of this project will mean more Iowans can safely float downstream and enjoy scenic bluffs and wildlife, pursue fishing, and see historic sites such as the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Walter House at Cedar Rock State Park and of course the old Iron Bridge.

The new facilities, call of the open water, and beauty of the river route will inevitably bring new paddlers to the area, and with them a new current of economic impact for communities that will ripple outward for years to come.