Iowa's rivers and streams are the focus of the DNR display at the Clay County Fair, Sept. 10 through 18, in Spencer. The DNR and 13 county conservation boards can be found in a renovated log cabin at the northeast corner of the fairgrounds.
The Sundholm cabin was given to the DNR and moved from the Albert City area, where it once housed a big game hunting collection bagged by a local entrepreneur.
New to the site this year is a stream, a wetland and associated native plants - all part of the cabin's landscape and the Sundholm Environmental Educational Center. The stream and wetland display the importance of vegetated buffer strips along stream borders.
Visitors will find plenty to see and do. Stand next to an eagle's nest when you visit the center and learn more about this majestic bird's comeback from near extinction.
Inside the cabin, visit with DNR staff from law enforcement, fisheries, parks, wildlife and environmental services. They can answer questions on topics ranging from hunting and fishing to livestock and water quality issues. Or, view the river trash sculpture created in 2004 from collected trash in the Des Moines River basin.
Fairgoers can also visit the nearby gazebo for live animal demonstrations, to learn outdoor skills such as fly tying, or satisfy their curiosity about water bugs, mountain lions, trees, swans, livestock management, solar pumps and more. County naturalists, DNR staff members and others will present short talks and demonstrations.
Check for programs and times near the log cabin.
Next door in the Agricultural Expo building, fairgoers can watch a stream demonstration, learning about stream flow and more about the Little Sioux River watershed.
During the weekends, volunteers and fairgoers can help turn garbage from the Little Sioux River into artwork. Ogden artist David Williamson will guide the efforts as volunteers melt, hammer and mold collected metals into sculpture. Williamson will be at the fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 10, 11 and 17.
In June, more than 200 volunteers collected garbage from Linn Grove to Cherokee, retrieving nearly three tons of scrap metal from the Little Sioux River during Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition). The weeklong river cleanup invited volunteers to canoe and camp along the river, removing garbage and learning about water quality.
Prospective volunteers can visit www.iowaprojectaware.com for more information about the cleanup and its companion artistic effort. Visit www.keepersoftheland.org for information about other natural resources volunteer efforts, including a new online calendar of volunteer events.