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Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Iowa’s agricultural heritage is not often celebrated through our public lands - but that changes next month with the arrival in Polk County of a group of graduate students from across the country. The students will arrive here the first week of October to participate in RDG Planning & Design’s sixth annual Design Residency Program. The RDG Residency gives the students a four-day intense problem-solving curriculum, focused on a real-world challenge.
This year, Polk County Conservation Board (PCCB) partners with RDG as the students tackle converting three abandoned grain bins at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (CBG) into a welcome center for CBG - a conservation and recreation showcase. The students will investigate how the grain bin - an icon of the agrarian landscape - can take on a new life, new form, and new identity.
And they will do this work from wide-ranging perspectives. This year’s students represent Pratt Institute in New York, Johns Hopkins University, and Minnesota College of Art & Design - just to name a few. They represent disciplines such as cultural geography, industrial design, sustainability, agricultural engineering, education and more.
Chichaqua’s 9,000 acres stretch across ten miles of the Skunk River Valley in northeast Polk County, nestled in the midst of farmland. The Greenbelt includes wetlands and prairie restoration, hiking trails, a popular biking trail, campgrounds, lodge, trap shooting and hunting grounds - but no welcome center, research hub or cabins. The students intend to address these needs.
An agenda for the students’ nearly four-day residency is attached. On Friday October 7, the public will have an opportunity to see their work at a presentation at RDG’s offices, 301 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, followed by a reception for the students and attendees. The event is free and open to the public. The presentation is slated for 5:00 p.m. Doors will open at 4:30 p.m.
This is RDG’s sixth annual residency. In past residencies, students have addressed parks planning, site design for a new corporate headquarters, health assessment, downtown redevelopment and urban agriculture. RDG Planning & Design is a design firm of architects, landscape architects, artists, planners and engineers with offices in Des Moines, Omaha, Ames, and Fort Meyers, Florida.
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Jester Park Nature Center will serve as one of Iowa's leading nature centers as well as a gateway to experience our state's natural environment. It will serve as a focal point within our community where recreation, education, tourism, and conservation efforts all intersect into one goal - to protect, preserve, and promote the landscape in which we live, work, and play.
The nature center is one of the centerpiece projects funded by the Polk County Water and Land Legacy bond referendum which was approved in 2012 by a 72% majority of voters. It is a $10 million dollar project that has $5 million dollars in bond proceeds allocated. Grants and fundraising from corporations, individuals, and foundations will make up the balance of the funding required.
Located within the very popular Jester Park, the nature center will be just inside a new park entrance on the west side off NW 128th St. The site is on a restored prairie and wetland, overlooks mature woodland and the newly renovated Discovery Pond, and is connected to the nearby Saylorville Reservoir. A comprehensive nature trail system will connect the center to nearby popular attractions such as rental cabins, picnic shelters, bird blind, elk and bison exhibit, and a natural playscape. The building will offer many lessons in sustainable construction.
The two floors of the nature center have complementary but different design approaches. The upper level will be social and relaxed, with opportunities to display local art and areas of natural resources interpretation. The lower level will be more kid-focused, with exciting hands-on interactive displays including a live animal exhibit area.
The Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center will sit adjacent to the nature center, providing a regional hub for public education in outdoor skills and wellness, outdoor physical activities for schools, and collaborations between organizations with shared goals for public health.
Fundraising efforts for this public/private partnership project are in full force through the end of 2016 to secure the remaining dollars needed to bring this project to reality. Project construction will begin in early 2017. The Grand Opening of the Jester Park Nature Center is anticipated for Earth Day 2018.
To stay on top of the latest information and to become part of this landmark opportunity in our community, make this project your own by visiting www.jesterparknaturecenter.com. Support the Jester Park Nature Center today!
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will relax fishing regulations at Easter Lake in Polk County starting on June 1st, 2016, to allow anglers to more freely harvest game fish before the lake is renovated in 2017.
Anglers with a valid fishing license will be allowed to harvest any size or number of largemouth bass, channel catfish, and all other fish species from Easter Lake. Any number of fishing poles or jug fishing will be allowed. Anglers must remain in sight of these lines at all times, and follow all other fishing regulations and area rules. Trot lines will be allowed (name and address must be attached), however lines may not be set across the entire water body. It is illegal to sell fish or stock captured fish into public waters. Please note that due to the dredging pipe and dredge being in the lake, Polk County Conservation will not allow any boating activities on the lake during this project.
Plans to eliminate undesirable fish species, such as gizzard shad and common carp are part of a plan to further improve the lake’s water quality and recreational opportunities.
Liberalized fishing regulations for Easter Lake will remain in effect from June 1st, 2016 through June 1st, 2017. Specific regulation changes include:
• Removal of bag and length limit restrictions on largemouth bass.
• Removal of bag limit on walleye.
• Removal of bag limit on channel catfish.
• Removal of bag limit on crappie and bluegill.
• Removal of the two line/two hook fishing restriction, however anglers must still adhere to the being within visual sight of the lines.
It is very important that anglers never transport and release common carp or any fish species into any water body. Gizzard shad and common carp populations in Easter Lake have reduced game fish populations, decreased water quality and limited fishing activity. All lake water from live wells and bait buckets must be drained before you leave the boat ramp.
For more information contact Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist Ben Dodd at 641-891-3795.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
To celebrate Polk County Conservation's 60th Anniversary in 2016, we are kicking off a Geocaching Parks Challenge! We want to encourage you to get outside and explore our county parks and trails and we think geocaching is a great way to learn about them. Geocaching is a high tech scavenger hunt using GPS. We have worked with local geocachers to hide geocaches in 16 different Polk County parks and trails. Once all 16 geocaches have been found, individuals must turn in their passport to claim their reward - a special geocoin! By the end of the challenge, we hope you'll know where there are tons of cool places to hike, bike, camp, and explore. Locations to the geocaches can be found on www.geocaching.com!
Click here to learn more about the Parks Challenge and to get started!
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
An updated flyer with detailed park enhancement descriptions, map and timeline for Fort Des Moines Park is now available to view by clicking here. Major construction will occur from December 2015 through October 2016. The park will remain open during this time, however, short term closures may be necessary to ensure public safety.