A Dam Debate over River Recreation in Des Moines

Apr 26, 2016

It’s being called the Dam Debate. Planners in the Des Moines metropolitan area are pulling in ideas from the public on what can be done to make the city’s two major rivers more open to boating, fishing and other recreational opportunities. 

A draft plan on how to bring recreation to the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers is due in June.
Credit Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

More than a hundred residents skipped their lunch hours Tuesday to weigh in on a water trails plan for the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers downtown.

They used smart phones to answer survey questions to help determine what should be included in the plan.

The river programs coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Nate Hoogeveen, says the turnout was impressive.

“They want to get outdoors, they want to be healthy," he says. "And so it makes sense to start in one of our biggest urban areas right here in Iowa.”

Hoogeveen says enhanced boating, fishing and landscaping along the rivers should be important to everyone who live nearby.

“It becomes a big deal for them," he says. "Their streams become a selling point for their town, their suburb, their urban setting, whatever it is, that it’s the best it can be.”

Well more than half of survey respondents are calling for areas along the two rivers where whitewater paddling, canoeing, kayaking and tubing can take place. 

Two historic dams downtown would need to be altered for this to happen.

A draft water trails plan is due in June.