The public is invited to a free celebration on Sunday, Aug. 17, from 2 to 5 p.m., at the Cottonwood Shelter in River Valley Park, near the 13th Street dam in Ames. Story County Conservation is cosponsoring the event with the Skunk River Paddlers who will be present to provide paddling expertise.

Come to paddle on the river, learn about water trail designation process, river cleanups, dam safety and how the South Skunk ground and surface water are related to the Ames water supply.

This celebration is designed to introduce people to the river both by paddling a short stretch of it and by talking to local experts. The Story County segment of the river is under consideration to become a state designated water trail.

Canoes and paddling equipment will be available to paddle upstream of the 13th Street dam. The Skunk River Paddlers will be on hand to help with basic paddling skills and assistance while paddling.

Two local experts, Jim Colbert and Bill Simpkins will be present to meet the public and answer questions about the river. Colbert leads the Skunk River Navy, an organization of students and adults from ISU and the Ames area that conduct large scale river cleanups. Much of Simpkins’ research focuses on the South Skunk River aquifer. He is developing groundwater models for the city of Ames. Both Colbert and Simpkins are ISU faculty.

For more information, contact the Story County Conservation Center at 515-232-2516 (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday) or email