Mahaska County Water Trails

As part of their Senior Capstone in Civil and Environmental Engineering, a team of students worked with Mahaska County Conservation staff on a project to enhance the county's water trails system, focusing on improvements to increase accessibility, use, and safety. 

The project's primary objective was to establish family-friendly destinations along the South Skunk River and the Des Moines River in Mahaska County. Emphasizing creating an immersive water trail experience, community leaders seek to highlight the region's natural beauty while providing opportunities for outdoor activities such as kayaking, fishing, and camping. In Mahaska County, both rivers receive between 200 and 400 visits a year for canoe/kayaking, inner tubing, and swimming. 

One goal of projects is to increase the number of visits to these water trails and draw more tourism to Mahaska County. The designs for the South Skunk River entail enhancements to both the Glendale Access point and the Rose Hill Access point. Similarly, the water trail design for the Des Moines River involves minor upgrades to the Eveland Access Campground and the establishment of an access point at the 310th Street site. 

The project team considered all the client’s main goals along with each site's existing topography and 100-year floodplain in their final designs. They designed each site to include amenities that followed all necessary standards and codes outlined by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Six primary additions/improvements were made to the four sites: parking, non-motorized boat launches, primitive campsites, restrooms, a tree planting plan, and an open-air shaded shelter on concrete pads. These design plans will assist in the preparation of an application to the Iowa DNR's Iowa Water Trails grant program. 

Mahaska County Water Trails group
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