On Monday, August 10, local trails were damaged and destroyed in a matter of minutes. Some of you reading this experienced the Derecho that swept across the state of Iowa, leaving such catastrophic devastation that power is still out, many homes are uninhabitable, and an estimated one-third of the state’s crops were lost. This devastation has closed local, county, and state parks and trails in multiple Iowa counties indefinitely as Iowans work to remove trees from buildings, homes, and streets and wait for power to be restored.
Iowa has limited amounts of public land available for recreation, some of the lowest numbers per capita in the nation. Even so, Iowa has worked diligently to utilize public land for recreational pursuits like trails. Much of this work is a collaborative effort between land managers, nonprofit organizations, and volunteers.
The road to recovery will take months and years, and outside help is arriving to assist with humanitarian needs. The access to open spaces and trails will take longer as volunteers are fatigued, working on their own homes and in their neighborhoods. To complicate things further, there’s an ongoing pandemic and the nature of the tree removal from many trails is well beyond the scope of trail volunteers.
Here at the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, we’ve observed the increase in trail use in 2020 and understand the effects trail closures will have on Iowans. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowans are getting outdoors and using trails (both dirt and paved) in unprecedented numbers.
To lose trail access during a good year is tragic, to lose trail access during a pandemic when trails are one of the very few amenities available, is terrible for the mental health and physical well-being of our residents. While trails are a small luxury in the grand scheme of Iowa’s devastation, the closures will have an impact on communities.
Our thoughts are with our fellow bicyclists, volunteers, and all of those impacted across Iowa by the Derecho.
Here is information about volunteering right now in impacted communities from the Cedar Rapids Gazette: visit UWECI.org/volunteernow or you can go to the volunteer reception center located at the Emergency Management Agency, 6301 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa or call 224-406-1366.
We know the bicycling community supports each other – here are ways you can help trails across Iowa.
Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA)
Linn County Trails Association (LCTA)
Iowa Coalition of Off-Road Riders (ICORR)
Central Iowa Trail Association (CITA)
Raccoon River Valley Trail Association (RRVTA)
Old Creamery Trail (part of Benton County Conservation Foundation)
Friends of Chichaqua Valley Trail: https://charity.gofundme.com/cvt-derecho
Heart of Iowa Nature Trail (Story County Conservation Foundation)
No charity on Go Fund Me