Project AWARE to clean up and explore the Turkey

Project AWARE volunteers will spend the first day of their weeklong river cleanup voyage this summer on the Little Turkey River, pictured in this file photo.
Project AWARE volunteers will spend the first day of their weeklong river cleanup voyage this summer on the Little Turkey River, pictured in this file photo.

Folks along the Turkey River in northeast Iowa are looking eagerly forward to spending time with the hundreds of Project AWARE volunteers who will spruce up one of the state’s most scenic rivers this summer.

“We’re pretty pumped up about it — not just because the river needs a cleanup but also because of the attention it will draw to one of Iowa’s finest recreational rivers,” said Rod Marlatt, director of the Fayette County Conservation Department.

Calling the Turkey “a gem,” Marlatt said the river is the centerpiece of recreation, water quality and economic development in Fayette County.

“We want more people to know about it,” he said.

The AWARE visit coincides with other efforts to promote the Turkey and the communities along it in both Fayette and Clayton counties.

Tim Engelhardt, director of the Clayton County Conservation Department, said the 98-mile-long Turkey River Water Trail will be dedicated during Project AWARE, which runs July 9 through 16.

The event “will help spread awareness of what we are doing to connect and enhance attractions along the river,” said McKenzie Johnson, project director of the Turkey River Recreational Corridor, which was instrumental in securing an Iowa Great Places designation for the area.

Signs marking the water trail will be going up before Memorial Day, and a new brochure with maps of the water trail will soon be printed and distributed by Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development in Postville.


Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) volunteers will clean up, learn about and explore 90 miles of the Turkey and its two main tributaries, the Little Turkey and the Volga.

Acknowledging that most Turkey users treat the river with respect, Marlatt said AWARE volunteers will find plenty of flood debris, including tires and barrels, as they paddle downstream in canoes and kayaks.

In addition to river cleanup, Project AWARE offers educational programs and demonstrations, a RAGBRAI-like spirit of camaraderie, camping and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

roject AWARE, which was recently recognized as the best state-sponsored volunteer event in the country, has removed more than 150 tons of trash from more than 600 miles of river in its eight years of existence.

For more information on this event and to download the registration materials, please visit



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