Thursday was my birthday so I took the day off and headed for one of my favorite places, The Ledges State Park near Boone, Iowa.
The Ledges is one of Iowa’s oldest state parks, and one of the nicest. It is in a heavily wooded area. There are hills and canyons with stone cliff faces (very rare for Iowa) and clear creeks (also very rare in this state with rampant water pollution).
In the 1970s two flood control dams were proposed that would have impacted the park. Citizen opposition to those dams successfully stopped one from being built. The dam that was built was thought to pose little threat to The Ledges, although it was acknowledged that an extreme flood event would flood part of the park.
Since then we have been having some of those extreme flood events, and parts of the park have been closed. Specifically, some bridges were flooded and damaged on Canyon Road, and there was a lot of sediment dropped in some places.
On Thursday I walked down Canyon Road. The road was closed but it was a nice walk and the picnic areas down the hill were will maintained.
Canyon road winds down through the park. It is a one-way asphalt road, and there are several low water crossings along the route.
The water covers the road to a depth of about six inches. Cars can drive through the water slowly. The water is low enough that it really only gets the tires wet.
Along the crossing are small stepping stones. You can cross on the little stepping stones without getting your feet wet, or you can wade right in. The stepping stones create a little pond of dammed-up water and you can see the little fish swimming along the bottom.
So if you have never been here you might have to just imagine the place. This is somewhere you can take your two year old child or your 98 year old grandparent who is in a wheelchair, and let them enjoy nature. That is real nature, not the sanitized version you might get at an artificial lake. Yet it is accessable to all.
Canyon Road has been closed for two or three years now. I did talk to some of the park staff, and they thought it would open on Memorial day. When I was there Thursday morning I walked around for about four hours and did not see another soul on the road. While I enjoyed having the place to myself, it is a real shame that the repairs take so long. We, the people of Iowa, need to find a better way. See, the two year old you could have taken there is now five. Grampa is dead. Time passes.
If the road to Wal-Mart was damaged, the road would be fixed in a week. While the damage done to this road overwhelmed the resources of the State Parks system, it is still just small repairs. Why can’t the road be repaired faster? It is simply a matter of priorities.
We should be ashamed of ourselves.