Beyond the River Banks – IRR Annual Conference April 30 – May 2

Kayakers and canoeists relax along the banks of the Cedar River last year. Photo: Kathy Stevens

If you love Iowa’s rivers, you won’t want to miss the 5th annual conference hosted by Iowa Rivers Revival at the end of this month. The conference will be held from April 30 through May 2 in Cedar Falls and Waterloo. This year’s theme is “Beyond the River Banks: Celebrating Iowa’s Cedar Valley.”

As Iowans — and those who followed the severe Midwest flooding of 2008 — know, the Cedar Valley experienced historic water levels, reaching beyond the 500-year floodplain in Cedar Rapids and other places along the Cedar River watershed. The conference “emphasizes a watershed approach that recognizes that rivers and streams need space to expand and recede, coexisting in harmony with the communities and habitats they shape,” according to IRR’s executive director, Rosalyn Lehman.

“The floods of 2008 and threats of future flooding have many Iowans talking about a new vision for Iowa’s waterways to ensure the safety of river communities and to preserve and enhance Iowa’s natural heritage,” Lehman says.

Friday, April 30: Cedar Falls

LOCATION: The Brown Bottle, 1111 Center St., Cedar Falls

4:30 – 6:30 PM – The conference will kick off Friday with networking and a social reception with the recently formed Cedar River Watershed Association. RSVP to (Individuals will be responsible for their own checks.)

Saturday, May 1: Waterloo

Kids can get in on the fun, too! Photo: Darlene Franke

LOCATION: Black Hawk County Conservation Board, Airline Community Room, 1346 West Airline Highway, Waterloo

8:00 – 9:00 – Registration – Exhibits – Networking

9:00 – 9:15 – Welcome

9:15 – 9:45 – Keynote: “A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008,” Connie Mutel

9:45 – 10:45 – Panel: “Tales from 3 Cities: Challenges and Progress Cedar Falls, New Hartford, Cedar Rapids”

11:00 – 11:30 – Keynote: “Rebuilding Iowa: Where We’ve Been and What’s Next for the State and Its Rivers” – Lieutenant General Ron Dardis, Executive Director of Rebuild Iowa Office

11:30 – 12:30 – Discussion: Keynote speakers, panelists, and conference participants

12:30 – 1:30 – Lunch/Meal

1:45 – 2:00 – IRR Update by Rosalyn Lehman, IRR executive director

2:00 – 4:30 – Whitewater Demonstration: Gateway Park, Prairie Rapids Paddlers. Cedar Valley Field Trip by bus, led by Phil Schuppert, Black Hawk Co Soil and Water Conservation Districts (and others). You’ll see all of the following:

  1. College Hill Streetscape (infiltration practices, storm water run-off)
  2. Streambank Stabilization Project (habitat enhancement and sediment delivery reduction)
  3. Wetland Detention Basin (habitat retention & flood mitigation)
  4. Hartman Bluff Rain Gardens (infiltration practices, storm water runoff)

4:30 – 5:00 – Networking/Cash Bar

5:00 – 6:00 – Featured Film Presentation: Troubled Waters, produced by the Iowa Learning Farm, “calls attention to our attitudes and treatment of rivers, both good and bad. It highlights Iowans who share their personal relationships with their local river and explores the treatment that rivers have received by humans. The film serves to launch dialogue about the issues that affect our waters and asks the viewer to appreciate rivers, to acknowledge their importance and their power.”

6:00 – Banquet/Meal and River Town of the Year Award Presentation

7:00 – Auction

Sunday, May 2: George Wyth State Park

Join the fun on the Cedar River Sunday. Rent a canoe or kayak at the conference, or bring your own. Photo: Kathy Stevens

LOCATION: North side of Fisher Lake in George Wyth State Park

10:00 – 1:30 – Cedar Valley Trail – paddle, bike or walk Cedar Valley Paddlers will lead the river and lake tour.

12:00 (Approximate) – Osprey Tower, South Riverside Trail: History/Establishment of Cedar Falls’ Chain of Lakes. Trail Guide: Vern Fish, Black Hawk County Conservation Board, executive director

1:30 Lunch @ George Wyth starting point

Registration and Fees

Conference: $35, if registered by April 23.

Guided canoe/kayak trip or walking/biking trail tour: $15, including lunch

Conference/Tour: $45 by April 23

Ask about a student discount!

For More Information

Please use the links below to access up-to-date materials about the conference, register for the event, sign up as an exhibitor, or provide sponsorship:


On-line Registration (Deadline Apr 23)

Registration (Deadline Apr 23)

Sponsorship Brochure (Deadline Apr 20)- sponsorships can be made on-line at to:

Exhibit Application

River Town of the Year Application

If you have further questions, please contact Rosalyn Lehman, Iowa Rivers Revival Executive Director: 515.202.7720 or

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)