RELEASE: MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund Grant Awarded to City of Johnston

DES MOINES, IA (June 20, 2024) – The Great Outdoors Foundation is pleased to announce that it has awarded its $125,000 spring grant from the MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund, a $5 million investment in ICON Water Trails, to the City of Johnston. The funding will be used to enhance access to Beaver Creek near other existing and planned amenities including Bombers and Ignit, hotels, and restaurants.

ICON Water Trails already boasts fifteen active regional sites, drawing more than a quarter of a million visitors in one recreation season alone. Three to four additional access points are slated to come online within the next year, including the improvements at the Merle Hay Gateway. ICON is already well into construction for the first of its signature downtown sites, Principal Point at the Scott Avenue dam, and began work on its second downtown project at Harriet Street this spring.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see the growth and expansion of ICON’s regional network,” Kathryn Kunert, Vice President of Economic Connections and Integration for MidAmerican Energy Company and ICON Water Trails Board Member, said. “MidAmerican Energy Company is proud to support this initiative, investing in our community as a thriving place to live, work, and play.”

“The City of Johnston’s Merle Hay Gateway access point maximizes the objectives of the MidAmerican Energy Regional Fund in alignment with ICON Water Trails’ priorities — on-water safety, environmental conservation, economic development, workforce and tourism attraction, and access to recreation,” Hannah Inman, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Outdoors Foundation, said. “We’re grateful to MidAmerican Energy Company for its strategic leadership, acting as a proof point for the efficacy of recreation as a catalyst for outcomes that benefit every sector in our region.”

In addition to establishing entry at this point along Beaver Creek, the new ICON site will also include:

  • Art installation.
  • Public restrooms.
  • Picnic shelter.
  • Storage locker.
  • Native plantings.
  • Bioretention area.
  • Natural playscape.

“The third water launch site, Merle Hay, along Beaver Creek, will be a destination hub for land and water recreation, showcasing how connections to nature and water can drive economic development and enhance community life,” Paula Dierenfeld, Mayor of Johnston and ICON Water Trails Board Member, said. “With amenities like kayak storage, interpretive signage, and public art, this site will transform into a destination where visitors can paddle down the creek and enjoy various attractions. This project embodies Johnston’s vision of integrating nature, recreation, and community to create a unique and dynamic place for all.”



About the Great Outdoors Foundation

The Great Outdoors Foundation exists to advance conservation through innovation, collaboration, and stewardship. We are the foremost fundraising professionals in the conservation and outdoor recreation sector. Together, we activate meaningful, accessible initiatives that enhance our environment and improve quality of life. Over the last three years, we have invested more than $200 million in conservation and outdoor recreation initiatives, and we’re just getting started.

About ICON Water Trails

Iowa Confluence Water Trails — ICON, for short — will connect 80+ improvements across 150 miles of rivers and creeks in Central Iowa. Initiated by the Central Iowa Water Trails Consortium, including Capital Crossroads, Catch Des Moines, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines Area MPO, Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Great Outdoors Foundation, ICON represents a new commitment to water safety and conservation as well as a concerted effort to drive economic development, visitor attraction and workforce retention.

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