Cityscape June 2014 : Page 20

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REAP Supports Resources

Tammie Krausman And William Price

Now in its 25th year, the Resource Enhancement and Protection program (REAP) at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is designed to enhance and protect Iowa's natural and cultural resources. Since it began, REAP has benefited every county in the state by supporting 14,535 projects and providing $264 million in funding. These investments have leveraged two to three times the amount in private, local and federal dollars.

Collectively, these projects have improved the quality of life for all Iowans with better soil and water quality; added outdoor recreation opportunities; sustained economic development; enhanced knowledge and understanding of our ecological and environmental assets and preservation of our cultural and historic treasures.

Many of the projects REAP has supported have directly involved city governments and the people they serve.

Trail Enhancement and Natural Resources Protection - Decorah & Winneshiek County

REAP funding played an essential role in the development of one of Iowa's premier recreational offerings in northeastern Winneshiek County. Undeniably beautiful natural bluffs and steep forested valleys make up the unique landscape.

This stunning scenery provides the backdrop for Trout Run Trail, an 11-mile paved loop that winds around Decorah. Tiedarch bridges and artistic sculptures delight the senses as the trail switchbacks through Upper Iowa River vistas and Iowa countryside, running alongside Trout Run Creek and the Decorah Trout Hatchery.

In 2008, REAP-funded, handicap-accessible fishing approaches were stationed along the trail and adjacent the hatchery. Nestled among trees that provide shade and privacy, paved jetties built over rock walls offer easy fishing access for everyone.

The 20-mile Prairie Farmer Recreation Trail follows the abandoned Milwaukee Railroad line, connecting Calmar to Cresco. Enabled by REAP funding, Prairie Farmer Trail paves its way through Conover and Ridgeway, offering numerous restaurant and treat stops.

The REAP-funded Dry Run Trail, now in its early stages, will connect Trout Run Trail and Prairie Farmer Recreational Trail — totaling a combined 41 miles of paved access for bikers, hikers and joggers. Iowa REAP, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, the Winneshiek County Conservation Board (CCB), and Winneshiek County Pheasants Forever are planning the future 170-acre Neste Valley Recreational Area, a county park that will offer picnicking, camping, cabins, interpretive trails and public hunting accessible by trail or car. Located at the mid-point of the proposed Dry Run Trail, REAP dollars have been used to secure funding for the trails, leveraging land and water conservation funds to purchase the park.

CCB Director Barbara Schroeder explained, "We've been able to leverage REAP dollars over and over on almost everything we've done — that's just invaluable to have those funds available so we can bring federal money into the state of Iowa and do bigger projects."

According to the Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau, tourism expenditures in Winneshiek County increased by almost $2 million in 2012, boosting the annual economic impact from tourism to $26.91 million.

More than $2.1 million in Open Space REAP funding has improved wildlife management areas, purchased land tracts and provided stream bank stabili2ation along the ultra high-use State Protected Waters of the Upper Iowa River Basin. REAP funded conservation efforts have changed river hydrology by planting native prairie grass where it soaks up runoff that is rerouted underground, re-emerging as colder, clearer water that supports world class trout fishing and some of the most beautiful float waters in the state.

Warren Cultural Center - Greenfield

The historic Warren Cultural Center in Greenfield has once again taken its place as the "grand lady" of town square. Enabled by REAP funding, its expansive windows, oxidi2ed copper accents and distinctive turret provide the architectural foundation for the three-story brick structure that serves as a landmark destination for culture, art and commerce in southwest Iowa. The multipurpose center occupies nearly 30,000 square feet — an entire corner of Greenfield Square. In addition to the resurrected opera house auditorium and balcony that seats 240, it provides office space, conference and meeting rooms, guest rooms and a spacious lobby and gallery that showcase art and photography exhibits.

Originally built in 1896 and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, the building was gifted to Main Street Greenfield by a private citizen in 1996. In 2000 the E.E. Warren Opera House Association (EEWOHA) formed as a nonprofit corporation, officially taking the reins for redevelopment of the property. REAP funding was secured through a Historical Resource Development Program (HRDP) grant in 2010.

REAP funds were used to remove the storefront and restore its copper trim. The original double hung windows were repaired, restored and thermally upgraded, using preprinted metal frames that matched original wood-profile paneling and insulated glass that facilitates higher energy efficiency and stability. The copper and mortar on the parapet was also selectively tuck-pointed and refabricated to match the existing finish, keeping the majority of copper original on the turret.

EEWOHA Vice President Catherine Howe explained the impact of REAP funding on the project's success. "The REAP grant demonstrated the confidence the State of Iowa had in the realization of the vision for these historic buildings. When potential supporters see evidence there is broad-based support within the community in addition to county, state and federal sources, they are willing to make the investment. To know that as a contributor each dollar had the potential to be matched 2 o r 3 times, their willingness to commit increased. The potential donor is also convinced of the sponsoring organization's creativity and commitment in securing project funding when the base for support reaches diverse sources."

The restoration project dollars have found their way into the local economy in several ways, Howe said. As required by grant funding, $1.3 million has gone to Greenfield contractors. Additional spending has gone to firms and workers in nearby towns. Local restaurants, lodging and stores have benefited as well.

Along with numerous local and state awards, the Warren Cultural Center was awarded the prestigious National Preservation Honor Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2013.

Article authors Tammie Krausman and William Price work for the Iowa Department of 'Natural Resources. Aspart of its 25thyearcelebration, REAP is highlighting 25greatprojects —see the rest as they are released at www.iowadnr.gov/environment/reap.aspx.

REAP Grants

The types of projects typically funded through the competitive REAP grant process are park expansion and multi-use recreational development, including trails. Since REAP is focused on nature-based activities, organized sports facilities, swimming pools and playgrounds do not qualify. The most successful grants are those that embody the goals of the REAP program. City grants are due annually on August 15.

More information is available at www.iowadnr.gov/environment/reap.aspx.

Read the full article at http://www.bluetoad.com/article/REAP+Supports+Resources/1724780/211612/article.html.

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