2014

November

Members of the Hardin County Trail Commission have been out pounding posts getting ready for the signs that should be up shortly. Unfortunately while out doing this they came across several bad/dangerous washouts. Because of this - there will be NO snowmobiling this winter because of this danger.

June

June has been another busy month moving forward with the new Iowa River Trail.


Some main points that have come out of discussion and decisions made are -
Salvage would extend until August unless another extension was needed.


Officer Holmes asked about the scope of the trail and reported that vehicles were being used and seen on the trail in certain areas. The HCTC group recommended that if a car or truck is caught on the trail and they were not an authorized person, they should be ticketed for trespassing.


The HCTC group also defined the future user groups (See Below). Any other user groups that will not be authorized in the future should also be warned (ATV/UTC and Equestrian).
· At the engineers meeting that a recommendation to define user groups was made. The user groups were based upon recommendations from Snyder Engineering and discussion with Trails Inc.


User groups would include – Pedestrian: Walkers, Runners, Hikers, Strollers, Snowshoes and Cross Country Skiers – Bicycles – Snowmobiles.
User groups that would not be included at this time were ATV/UTV and Equestrian.


The two main reasons for not including the two user groups were safety and maintenance. The safety concerns were how to safely include the user groups with pedestrians and bicycles. The remedy to do that would be either a trail footprint that would be too large and costly or a prohibitive speed limit to the ATV/UTV.


May

ELDORA, IOWA - (May 20, 2014) - Reprinted with Permission from the Hardin County Index: "With summer comes first steps in trail development", By Rick Patrie, News Editor: HARDIN COUNTY - Scott Kosanke says that realistically, wholesale use of the Iowa River Recreational Trail probably awaits next summer.

The multi-purpose walking, biking, snowmobiling and what not-trail is being created along the route of the one time Iowa River Railroad. The rail service closed down a couple of years ago (for all points south of Steamboat Rock) and the roughly 100 foot wide right of way was quickly rail banked and purchased under the auspices of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation - a conservation group which has taken the lead in the establishment of many recreational trails over the last three decades.

It is commonly thought that they are all second lives for abandoned rail lines, but that is not the case. Some of the trails have been assembled piece-meal with the all together voluntary cooperation of farmers and other landowners along their routes. The trail here does follow the railway, however, and runs from just north of Steamboat Rock to Marshalltown. In the end, it will be a project of the city of Marshalltown and Hardin County.

Hardin County has already established a quasi-independent board, much like its Hardin County Conservation Commission, to oversee trail development. And one stipulation that trail proponents have long maintained is that development of the trail will track the availability of grant and donation funds. Right now, Kosanke says the trails committee is working with some money left over from a three quarter of a million dollar grant used to purchase the old abandoned rail bed from the one time railway company. Leftover funds will be used to commission and engineering study of the property, particularly the many bridges up and down the line.

They in some cases have to be shored up, and then gradually it is hoped to first establish a crushed rock base that will accommodate trail users. Kosanke says, don't expect it to be particularly good for light bikes, but it should be comfortable for mountain bikes, joggers and snowmobilers this coming winter. "No taxes, just grants and fund raising." One of the last traces of the old railroad remains in Eldora. Large stocks of ties due for recycling. The ones in good condition - and there are many since they were only installed only five years ago -- they will go back into service, while the others will be ground up for other uses.

But for the coming summer, Kosanke says the trail project will be concentrating on assessing needs, fund raising, and perhaps some limited traffic along some areas of the project. Right now the public is being asked to remain off the trail bed and trail route for safety considerations.


April

MARSHALLTOWN, IOWA - (April 19, 2014) - "Iowa River Rail Trail Continues to Develop" by Stephanie Ivankovich, Staff Writer, Marshalltown Times-Republican


A fresh blanket of snow covers the future Iowa River Trail, along with thousands of salvaged railroad ties, in Union on March 1st. The winter of 2013-2014 continues its relentless grip on Hardin and Marshall Counties!


March

DES MOINES, IOWA (March 4, 2014) - Reprinted with Permission from the Eldora Herald-Ledger - "Iowa River Railroad Honored for Land Donation" by Rick Patrie: More than 2,800 acres of Iowa land with an estimated value of more than $6 million was permanently protected through many donations for conservation. The donors associated with the 20 donations of land or land value will be recognized during a ceremony at the state capitol.

The Iowa River Railroad donated 34 miles of former rail corridor through a bargain sale to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation that will further the proposed Iowa River Scenic Trail in Hardin and Marshall Counties.

The former rail corridor will create a loop trail between Steamboat Rock, Pine Lake State Park and Eldora and connect to Union, Liscomb, Albion and Marshalltown. It will also connect to the nearly 700-mile Central Iowa Trail system. Ownership has been transferred to Hardin County and to the City of Marshalltown.

The ceremony is scheduled on March 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Legislative Dining Room 15, at the State Capitol, in Des Moines. Iowa Governor Terry Branstand is scheduled to attend.

Landowners who are in attendance will be honored individually for their donation. The Gift to Iowa's Future recognition celebrates and honors individuals and corporations who have donated land or a conservation easement to benefit Iowa's parks, trails, fish and wildlife habitat, natural areas, open spaces and public recreation areas for other public uses and benefits.


February

UNION, IOWA - (February 7, 2014)
One of the unique features of the future Iowa River Trail is the fact that it crosses branches of the Iowa River in several locations, including at Steamboat Rock; north of Gifford; south of Union; and south of Albion. A number of these crossings feature historically significant railroad bridges with unique architecture. These bridges are one of the many reasons why this trail will be considered one of the most scenic recreational trails in Iowa once the project is completed.

Kent Kelsey of Iowa Falls shares a couple of photos of these bridges taken while snowmobiling recently on the Iowa River as Hardin and Marshall Counties remain in the grip of one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Note that snowmobiling, as well as all other recreational activities, are prohibited on the trail corridor itself as railroad decommissioning work continues into the summer of 2014 and until bridges and other structures can be secured to protect the safety of the public.


A view of the bridge south of Union from the Iowa River.

Below, the Bridge over the Iowa River south of Albion.

ELDORA, IOWA - (February 5, 2014)
The Hardin County Board of Supervisors officially established a Trails Commission at their regular business meeting on February 5th. The Hardin County Trails Commission will be responsible for oversight of the 22 mile section of the future Iowa River Trail segment in Hardin County and will be tasked with a number of activities, including fundraising; project planning; development of rules and regulations governing use of the trail; and eventual day to day oversight of the trail once developed.

The commission is made up of representatives from several communities in Hardin County, including the four cities that the eventual trail will connect within the county. Appointed to the commission were:
Judy Clark, Union     Deb Crosser, Eldora     Chip Daleske, Eldora     Kent Kelsey, Iowa Falls     Scott Kosanke, Eldora
Lynette Miller, Gifford     Heidi Mitchell, Eldora     Eric Nielson, Steamboat Rock     Chris Wieting, Iowa Falls
Congratulations, and thank you to these residents who have stepped up to help guide development of the Iowa River Trail segment in Hardin County!


IOWA FALLS, IOWA - (January 27, 2014)
It's a new year, and much exciting work continues right into the new year as trails groups from both Marshall and Hardin Counties continue to work together to advance the Iowa River Trail project forward. Here's a few key updates:
The "Iowa River Trail" has emerged as the most likely official name for the future trail!
A resolution between Hardin County, Marshalltown and the IRT Board regarding "order of operations" is being developed to help facilitate grant funding activities, project management, and other trail development activities.
Work is underway to develop a logo and additional marketing materials, including a potential web site devoted explicitly to the trail.
RFP's are being prepared to send to several engineering firms to complete an initial inventory of the project including a full survey of the bridges, culverts and other key structures along the corridor.In Hardin County, a baton passing occurred as Cindy Goodner stepped down as chair of Hardin County Recreational Trails due to an upcoming move to northeast Iowa. Cindy has been an integral member of the committee and has been instrumental in helping to get the IRT project "off the ground" in addition to being actively involved in trail development efforts within Iowa Falls for many years. Thank you, Cindy, for your leadership and dedication to promoting recreational trails in Hardin County! We are excited to announce that Jim Gillepsie has stepped into the chair role of Hardin County Recreational Trails!