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The Rules of the river

Izaak Walton League Report

October 26, 2012
Blaine Kloppenborg , The Daily Freeman Journal

Hi, folks. I'm back. Hopefully, it's for good this time. Actually, I had a scheduling problem with both the doctor and the hospital. They won. I lost. Major surgery kept me on the sidelines for a week or so. It gave me lots of time to think.

Now that our rivers are low (make that dry), it's a good time to talk about nonmeandered and meandered streams, who owns the land, how far and how deep. Good example: The Raccoon River is a nonmeandered stream until it reaches the Polk County line. The Boone River is another good example. It starts clear up north by Woden and ends at its confluence with the Des Moines River down by Stratford. It changes its classification four or five times during its long flowage. The Des Moines River is worse yet. It changes many times, and I'm told that it goes from a nonmeandering to meandering and back to nonmeandering six times in a single 11 mile stretch. The Raccoon, once it reaches the Polk County line is re-classified as a meandered stream. Paddlers, fishermen and hunters should be aware of the difference. And believe me, there is a difference - a very big difference.

In meandered streams river banks and the land up to the "high water mark" (where permanent vegetation begins) are legally considered to be public lands. Paddlers of meandered streams may legally camp on the banks below the high water mark. Paddlers and fishermen's rights using nonmeandering streams are limited because the adjacent landowner not only owns the banks, but also owns the land beneath the river. If you aren't floating, you're technically trespassing. The meandered versus nonmeandering makes little difference to day paddlers. But to multi-day users looking for a place to camp, nonmeandered streams pose a logistical and ethical problem. The Upper Iowa River, for example, is for the most part classified as nonmeandering. That's a problem - a big problem - because once you get on it, you can't get off, except at specified boat landings, city and state parks or highway intersections. In some cases, regarding the nonmeandering stream, you may encounter a cable, fence, perhaps even barbed wire, strung along the river. Don't blame the farmer. It's his land, not yours, and in some cases, he may be required by law to string a fence across that stream to contain his livestock.

Article Photos

Why is this? How can this be? The reasons are complicated and the reasons are many. But mostly, it boils down to how and when the land was originally surveyed in earlier times. I'm not a lawyer, so I'd better not venture too deep into this subject. Suffice it to say, though, that not all rivers and streams were created equal. They still aren't and probably never will. There are a lot of stories (most are myths) floating around about who does and who does not own the land, the water or the land beneath it.

Annual Chili Supper

I don't go to a lot of suppers, feeds or breakfasts, but this one I wouldn't miss for anything. Mark your calendars and circle the date in red ink. The local Ike's will be holding their annual chili soup supper and membership drive on Nov. 3 starting at 5 p.m. Non-members are welcome. There is no charge for the supper but free will donations will be accepted. There will be a free drawing for prizes but you must be present to win.

Come and enjoy Gary Loder's chili and Bob Raner's bean soup and hot corn bread. This will be the start of the 2013 membership drive for the local Ike's. It will be held at the Izaak Walton Park and Clubhouse south of Webster City on the Beach Street blacktop.

But the best part is there will be gallons of hot coffee. These guys make the genuine stuff - not too hot and not too cold, not too mild and not too strong or spiced up. Just right. Gary Loder will be supervising the kitchen so you know the chili will be out of this world.

President Dave Gordon will be on hand to renew memberships and sign up new members. This one's my favorite outdoor event of the year. It's held rain or shine and best of all, those fellows make both the bean soup and chili from scratch - from the ground up and it simmers and builds up in flavor all day long. It's my one and only opportunity to eat as much chili soup as I want, whenever I want and as long as I want. Nothing but nothing can beat a great-tasting soup supper on a cool fall night. See you out thee.

And now have a good weekend.



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