On Monday, August 10, local trails were destroyed in a matter of minutes. A Derecho swept across the state of Iowa, leaving such catastrophic devastation that power is still out, many homes are uninhabitable, and it’s estimated one-third of the state’s crops were lost. This devastation also closed local, county, and state parks and trails in multiple Iowa counties indefinitely as Iowans worked to remove trees from buildings, homes, and streets and wait for power to be restored.
The High Trestle Trail is currently open for use, but there is still much work to be done to clean up downed trees and repair damaged infrastructure along the trail. Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation is collcting funds to help the five cities and four counties along the trail with restoration efforts.
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 limited public land for recreational pursuits like trails. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Iowans were getting outdoors and using trails (both dirt and paved) in unprecedented numbers.
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 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. Michelle Barker, of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition, has observed the increase in trail use in 2020 and understands the effects trail closures will have on Iowans.
“To lose trail access during a good year is devastating, to lose trail access during a pandemic, when trails are one of the very few amenities available, is catastrophic 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 a significant impact on our state.
”Our thoughts are with our fellow bicyclists, trail builders, volunteers, and all of those impacted across Iowa by the Derecho. We know the bicycling community supports each other - here are ways you can help across Iowa.
Linn Area Mountain Bike Association (LAMBA) https://charity.gofundme.com/lamba-derecho
Iowa Coalition of Off-Road Riders (ICORR) https://charity.gofundme.com/icorr-derecho
Central Iowa Trail Association (CITA) https://charity.gofundme.com/cita-derecho
Raccoon River Valley Trail Association (RRVTA) https://charity.gofundme.com/rrvta-derecho
Linn County Trails Association (LCTA) https://charity.gofundme.com/lcta-derecho
Old Creamery Trail (part of Benton County Conservation Foundation) https://charity.gofundme.com/oct-derecho
Friends of Chichaqua Valley Trail https://charity.gofundme.com/cvt-derecho
Buchanan County Four Seasons Trail Association https://charity.gofundme.com/bc4st-derecho
Heart of Iowa Nature Trail (Story County Conservation Foundation) No charity on Go Fund Me
Was your local trail group impacted and not listed here? Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.