Foundations partner to support river tourism project

The scenic Maquoketa River traverses Delaware, Jones and Jackson Counties before spilling into the mighty Mississippi. While it may be hard to envision in the midst of winter, many use the river for paddling, sightseeing and fishing, making it a valuable natural and economic resource to many rural communities throughout the region.   

The Community Foundation of Jackson County, the Jones County Community Foundation and the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County, all affiliates of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque, have partnered with the boards of the Grant Wood Scenic Byway and Delaware Crossing Byway to help fund the creation of a new paddle guide for river users. The guide will feature a large, detailed road map, information about livery services, campgrounds, river safety and fishing regulations. It also will include close-ups of public river access points, parking lots, public restrooms and shelters, hospitals, bike routes, drinking water locations and communities along the river. 

“This project will have an extremely positive impact on the entire region,” said Jared Nielsen, senior marketing and design specialist with Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D). “It will bring more river recreation enthusiasts to the area, drive economic development by helping increase the length of time each inbound visitor stays, give local river users and families a reason to stay and canoe or kayak close to home, and increase overall appreciation for the Maquoketa River.”

Northeast Iowa RC&D serves as the fiscal agent and coordinating entity for the Grant Wood Scenic Byway, on a mission to recognize opportunities and provide leadership to make the region a vibrant, place-based model for the nation. The RC&D is dedicated to working with community members and partners to identify and nurture great ideas, especially those that embrace the essence of the area’s small rural counties and natural resources.

The guide represents a convening of partners across sectors and geographic boundaries. In addition to funding from the three community foundations, the byway boards partnered to apply for funding from a variety of state and local sources: Travel Iowa, Northeast Iowa RC&D, Jackson County Area Tourism Association and the City of Manchester.

Both byway boards work toward a shared vision to enhance the experience of visitors, the quality of life for residents, and the economic vitality of the byway community by preserving and promoting the corridor’s resources and offering extraordinary experiences. “This project is a perfect fit,” said Nielsen.

“Our affiliate foundations don’t get many opportunities to support projects that cross county lines,” said MJ Smith, director of affiliate foundations at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. “By providing grant dollars to the Maquoketa River paddle guide, they’ve shown that there is significant impact to be made when we work together to improve our region.”

The Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and its affiliates in Delaware, Jackson and Jones counties inspire people to give back to their communities, and turn this generosity into lasting change across the region, increasing access to resources and opportunities that help all people succeed. For more information or to make your impact on a cause you care about, visit