HOW TO JOIN Red Rock Lake Association (click here)

- Photos by Jeff Saltzman
Become a member and join the fun! Read more…
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3M Volunteers Expand Playscape


                                                                photo; Volunteers mulch the “Sounds Pod”
On Saturday, September 27, staff from 3M in Knoxville and their families donated many hours of “sweat equity” to add new features to Lake Red Rock’s “Playscape,” a natural play area located along the north side of the lake.
The Playscape is designed to spark children’s creativity in using natural features in their play.  The outdoor experiences will hopefully build their love and appreciation of nature, increase their feeling of ownership of their environment, and become future stewards in protecting our natural resources.
                                                                               photo; Volunteers assist willow artists build a willow tepee at the Playscape
Last November, 3M awarded the Red Rock Lake Association a $30,000 EcoGrant to
help expand the Playscape.  The funds have been utilized to pay for building
materials, a stipend for a Playscape Intern to offer programming throughout the
summer months, environmental education materials, and purchase other supplies.
During this process, 3M also volunteered to help with the building effort.
  During the service day, 53 volunteers of all ages
raked, shoveled, mulched, painted, and completed other tasks to create the
newest play elements:  a “Sounds Pod” with sound logs, drum logs and wind
chimes, and a “Community Pod” with balance logs, willow huts, a rock gathering
circle, and wood-carved canoes.  Several 3M staff donated numerous hours leading
up to the event to design the drum and sound logs as well as the balance

“Twigologist” Gary Dannels from Beacon and fellow willow artist Lisa Evans from Oskaloosa directed volunteers in the construction of the willow tepee and “wigwam” huts.  Chainsaw artist Andy Klindt from New Virginia also lent his skills to carve the wood canoes and sculpt a log sculpture located near the Playscape’s entrance.


Volunteers laid landscape fabric and wood mulch over the play areas and along a large segment of the nature trail encircling the Playscape.  Children and their parents even painted stepping stones to create a hopscotch game.
Want to check out the Playscape for yourself?  The area is located along the Volksweg bike trail about a half-mile west of the North Overlook Campground.  Bring the whole family! For more information, contact the Corps of Engineers at (641) 828-7522 or (641) 628-8690.

 photo;Volunteers lay landscape fabric over nature trail before adding mulch                                                               
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October Programs at Lake Red Rock

Enjoy the fall weather at Lake Red Rock! Here are some ideas to get you outdoors
this month:


Geocaching 101

Sat., Oct. 25 at 10:00 a.m. – Howell Station Landing
(Meet by the
parking lot closest to the old bridge)
You’re never too old for
hide-and-seek.  Have some fun and give geocaching a try! This sport uses the
technology of GPS (Global Positioning Systems) to hunt for caches hidden in the
area.  Bring your own GPS or borrow one from us for the activity.  Learn some of
the basics and then try it on your own when you travel anywhere.

Programs are free of charge and no reservations are needed.  For more
information, contact the Corps of Engineers office at (641) 828-7522 or (641)

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Missouri River Energy Services Officially Breaks Ground on Red Rock Hydroelectric Project

PELLA, Iowa – The official groundbreaking of the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project (RRHP) took place Aug. 13 at Lake Red Rock near Pella, Iowa.

The project is a retrofit of an existing Army Corps of Engineers dam on the Des Moines River that will produce 36 megawatts of power, with the capacity to generate up to 55 megawatts during peak seasons; enough to power about 18,000 homes. Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) is building the project, which is being financed by Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA). RRHP is expected to be completed in 2018, at which point it will be the second-largest hydropower facility in Iowa.

The groundbreaking featured remarks from Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds; Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack, and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy, among others.

“We are very excited about what this project means not only for the people of Pella and the surrounding areas, but our municipal customers across Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota,” said Tom Heller, Chief Executive Officer of MRES. “Through the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project, Missouri River Energy Services is adding renewable generation to our diverse energy portfolio while also creating jobs in the surrounding area.”

“It is great to be here to celebrate the construction of a reliable, affordable, and environmentally sustainable source of power for this community,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy. “President Obama’s plan to improve upon our permitting and review processes for infrastructure projects highlighted this Red Rock Hydroelectric plant. Today is a big step for this country’s hydropower efforts.”

Economic analysis indicates that RRHP will provide economic benefits of more than $250 million to the four-county region in Iowa during the construction period, creating in excess of 300 direct and indirect jobs in the area during the four-year construction period.

“The people of Iowa are thrilled the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project is moving forward,” said Iowa Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds. “This project is providing further proof that Iowa is leading the way in finding the energy solutions that will power our economic growth. I congratulate MRES and its members on this momentous occasion.”

RRHP has been included in the Federal Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard, which is designed to expedite the licensing process for critical infrastructure projects. The Red Rock Hydroelectric Project is the only hydropower project on the Infrastructure Permitting Dashboard.

“Today’s groundbreaking continues Iowa’s leadership and represents a major step forward in bringing additional clean, renewable, and reliable energy to more Americans by utilizing existing structures on our water resources through hydropower,” said U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack, who represents the area in Congress. “Projects like the Red Rock Hydroelectric Project are major contributors to helping us meet our future energy needs – both in Iowa and across the United States.” Continue reading

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photos by Jeff Saltzman

Red Rock Balloon Fest is growing to be one of the areas most exciting summer happenings.

For a complete listing of events please visit:                                                                                             


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Iowa’s “Black Gold”

This is the first of a series of articles written by the Red Rock Lake Association’s “Save the Lake Committee”, by Mark Thompson

a pairie

When European settlers first arrived in what is now Iowa, they encountered a vast sea of grasses and flowers, with scattered woodlands bordering the many streams and rivers.  The north-central part was dotted with numerous wetlands, holdovers from the last glacial event in the state.  Over 85% of the state was a prairie landscape that was described as a place rich in form, life, and color, and a mecca for wildlife.  The first settlers assumed that if the majority of the land was too poor to grow trees, it was surely too poor to grow much in the way of crops. For a long time, homes were built in the wooded areas and the forests were laboriously cleared as they were back in Europe.  They failed to see that trees grew on the prairie’s poorest soils, a thin veneer of fertility that would erode over time when there were no longer trees to stabilize it.  In central Iowa, as late as 1847, prairie was selling for $3 to $10 per acre while timberland sold for $30 to $50. Continue reading

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“National Water Trail” Designation for Lake Red Rock

kayakers on Red Rock

The Red Rock Trail at Lake Red Rock, Knoxville, Iowa, has officially been
designated as a National Water Trail by the National Park Service. Joining the
Red Rock Trail is The Island Loop Route Water Trail in Michigan and The Missouri
National Recreation River Water Trail that flows through South Dakota, Nebraska
and Iowa. These three trails join 11 previously dedicated water trails across
the country.

“These national water trails provide exemplary close-to-home
places for people to explore and enjoy,” said National Park Service Director
Jonathan B. Jarvis. “And I am particularly happy to have these trails added to
the system. They are cooperatively supported and sustained through the efforts
of community, state and federal partners.”

The Red Rock Water Trail is a
36-mile loop on scenic Lake Red Rock. Boaters and paddlers can see rocky cliffs
and bluffs, a variety of wildlife, a sea cave and much more. Also along the
trail are many historical landmarks, and sites of historical events.  There are
eight access points that are conveniently located near the campgrounds at Lake
Red Rock.

“Paddlers are treated to spectacular views of bluffs, hardwood
forests, a multitude of wildlife and Iowa’s largest lake,” said Park Ranger
Tracy Spry.  “Amazingly, paddlers are found using the water trail during all
months of the year, as long as the lake isn’t frozen.”

The trail is
managed by Lake Red Rock in partnership with the Red Rock Lake Association, who
is a cooperating association.

National Water Trails are designated by the
Secretary of the Interior and are part of the National Trails System,
administered by the National Park Service in partnership with a wide range of
federal agencies. Designation of national water trails helps to strengthen local
efforts for recreation, conservation and restoration of America’s waterways and
surrounding lands.

National water trails are the pathways of rivers,
lakes and bays, providing a connection for current and future generations to the
nature, history and adventure that can be found on the water.

Explore the
entire National Water Trails System online through a dynamic collection of
videos, stories and pictures at


  (photo by Diane Michaud Lowry)

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The Lake Association Needs YOU!

board members neededTo all active members of the Red Rock Lake Association: there are two board seats open.  If you have a love of the lake and would like to get involved, please let us know of your intention to run for the board. Prospective board members should  submit a short biography via email at and what you would like to accomplish on the board.


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Reminder for Boaters to ‘Wear It!’

father-daughter2-printAs the weather starts to warm up, we’re all anxious to get outside and enjoy the
sunshine. Families and friends gather together to enjoy the outdoors, travel on
vacation and spend time on the water – boating, fishing, sailing, and more. It’s
important to remember the safety precautions to take during all of these
recreational water activities.

But, with approximately 500 people
drowning each year from recreational boating accidents, it is imperative to push
the message of “Wear It!”: wear your life jacket at all times while you are on
the water.
Throughout the boating season, the National Safe Boating Council is working with
their partner organizations to encourage safe and responsible boating, including
the practice of always wearing a life jacket, and being alert and aware while on
the water.

“Accidents on the water can happen much too fast to reach and
put on a stowed life jacket,” said Virgil Chambers, executive director of the
National Safe Boating Council. “It’s important that everyone wears a life jacket
while on the water. There’s no reason why you, your family and friends, can’t
have fun on the water while also choosing to always wear a life

Here are a few boating safety tips to keep in mind this boating

1. No matter what activity you have planned – boating, fishing
sailing, etc. – always remember to wear a life jacket every time you are on the

2. Make sure your life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and
properly fits. Double check that your life jacket is appropriate for your
favorite boating activities.

3. Life jackets meant for adults do not work
for children. If you are boating with children, make sure they are wearing
properly fitted, child-sized life jackets. Do not buy a life jacket for your
child to “grow into.”

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was
the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities
in 2010, and that 88 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
That’s why boating safety advocates continue to push for increased and
consistent life jacket wear on the water.

“A life jacket can’t save your
life unless you “Wear It!,” continued Chambers. “With today’s variety of
comfortable, stylish life jackets, there’s a life jacket for everyone – even our
four-legged friends! No matter the water activity or life jacket style chosen -
and always remember to ‘Wear It!’”

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The Army Corp of Engineers would like your input concerning ideas and future plans for the Red Rock Lake area. Please view the Focus Areas below and visit for more information and to send your input. Due to image sizes the pages may load slowly so please be patient.


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Focus area pages may load slowly – Arrow back to return

HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT                                                                                              Healthy Environment Overview                                                                                                    What is an ESA                                                                                                                                    MP ESA Red Rock 11×17 Map 1 of 2 11-2012
MP ESA Red Rock 11×17 Map 2 of 2 11-20-12
Healthy Environment Eliminate Invasive Species map
Healthy Environment Main Invaders
Healthy Environment Goal 4
Healthy Environment Public Hunting Acres
Healthy Environment Water Quality and Fisheries
A Natural Place to Play Overview
A Natural Place to Play Natural Feel
A Natural Place to Play Volksweg Trail
A Natural Place to Play Water Trail
A Natural Place to Play Marina
A Natural Place to Play Archery
A Natural Place to Play Horse Trails
A Natural Place to Play Soft Trails
A Natural Place to Play Cordova

 Connections Overview
Connections Habitat Fragmentation
Connections Trail Connections USACE
Connections Surrounding Communities trails
Connections Wayfinding Intersections
Connections Natural Playscapes
Connections Watchable Wildlife
Connections Access

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Be “in the know” on lake events
Improve Red Rock’s recreation
Promote Red Rock’s natural resources

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Greetings! As a special perk of your support, we’re providing you this sneak peek at the next “Ask the Corps” article (to be published in the Pella Chronicle and Knoxville Journal-Express).
The Corps just received a new three dimensional model of the dam showing how it will look once the proposed hydropower plant is completed. Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), the company developing the facility, provided the model to help lake users visualize the project. It will also be used as a teaching aid for agency staff to explain the construction and operation of the new facility. Continue reading

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We want to hear about your visit!

How was your visit to Lake Red Rock? Let us know! With your input, the Corps of Engineers will strive to improve the quality of information, facilities, and services at Lake Red Rock. To fill out the questionnaire please click here.

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Ask the Corps.

Get your questions answered! Submit your question under the “Ask the Corps” heading and the Army Corps. at Lake Red Rock may answer.  Your question could end up in the newspaper!

How do droughts affect Lake Red Rock?

With the flood events of recent years, people are more familiar with high lake levels and dam outflows at Red Rock; however, the lake and dam have an important job to do during drought conditions as well. To read more, click here.

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