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University of Iowa News Release

 

Oct. 13, 2011

UI archaeologists assist in regional development plan, seek public input

Stretching from the Amana Colonies to the Meskwaki Settlement, the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway is steeped in archaeological, historic and cultural significance, not to mention scenic beauty. To preserve and enhance this area and increase its visibility to travelers, the University of Iowa Office of the State Archaeologist (UI-OSA) recently completed a Corridor Management Plan that details the qualities that set this area apart and support its bid for National Scenic Byway designation.

Working with the Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development, university archaeologists have spent two years on the project, which called on their expertise in Iowa history and archaeology, including its GIS program and extensive knowledge of Iowa's earliest government land office surveys—mid-19th-century maps that created the township borders still in place today.

"We knew we had a good handle on the early maps and the historic context of Native American/Euro American interaction," says Lynn Alex, education and outreach director. "We found the lynchpins unifying this region to be this history of those two communal societies -— the Amana Colonies and the Meskwaki Settlement."

Already an Iowa state scenic byway, the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway runs along the Iowa River through Tama, Benton, and Iowa counties. The Corridor Management Plan is a required component of its bid for National Scenic Byway designation, which would boost educational, preservation, and promotional/economic development opportunities in the region.

"National Scenic Byway status will make the Iowa Valley Scenic Byway eligible for many different programs and potential funding sources for future projects and development," says Peter Hoehnle, project manager for the Iowa Valley RC&D. "National status will also highlight the important cultural and environmental features of this byway to a much wider audience. The work that the OSA has done in developing the Corridor Management Plan is a tremendous step towards sharing the unique character of this special region with visitors from around the county while, at the same time, helping our own residents, particularly young people, take a second look at the region they call home, and learn to appreciate it in new and different ways."

There are more than 50,000 miles of scenic byway in the United States. Some well-known scenic byways include Washington D.C.'s Pennsylvania Avenue; the Great River Road along the Mississippi River; and the Pacific Coast Highway.

Now that the plan is complete, UI Office of the State Archaeologist and Iowa Valley RC&D have scheduled public meetings to share the details and take questions and suggestions from community members. Two upcoming meetings are:

--Tuesday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m. at the Amana Heritage Museum School House, 705 44th Ave., Amana.

--Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7 p.m. at the new Meskwaki Museum, adjacent to the Meskwaki Tribal Center, 349 Meskwaki Road, Tama.

The purpose of a Corridor Management Plan is to identify the important byway resources; lay out community-based byway goals and implementation strategies; explore visitor needs; review the roadway's current condition and maintenance plans; guide the users through balanced preservation and promotion of the Byway; and provide a plan to solicit funding for corridor- wide projects.

One of the primary recommendations in the Corridor Management Plan is to hire a Byway Manager to act as the coordinator, advocate, and advisor on all Byway projects. In addition, the plan recommends that a steering committee seek a variety of other partnerships including local citizens, government, state agencies, visitor attraction organizations, and other nongovernmental agencies with interests in the historical, cultural, recreational, and natural features of the Byway.

For more information, visit http://www.ivrcd.org/ or http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/. Or, contact Peter Hoehnle at 319-622-3264, peter@ivrcd.org, or Lynn Alex, 319-384-0561, lynn-alex@uiowa.edu.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Peter Hoehnle, Iowa Valley RC&D, 319-622-3264, peter@ivrcd.org; Lynn Alex, UI Office of the State Archaeologist, 319-384-0561, lynn-alex@uiowa.edu; Mary Kenyon, University News Services, 319-381-0011, mary-kenyon@uiowa.edu