Polk County Conservation

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Polk County Conservation Youth Corps Now Accepting Applications

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The application period is now open for the Polk County Conservation Youth Corps (PCCYC) program. The PCCYC mission is to foster environmental stewardship while developing future leaders in conservation through education, community engagement, cooperation and meaningful work. This is a non-residential program that provides youth ages 15-18 the opportunity to work on field-based, service-learning projects in our county parks and trails for three weeks during the summer.

Click here to access the application packet. Deadline for applications is Friday, April 21, 2017.

Road Closure in Jester Park through Mid-May

Monday, March 06, 2017

Beginning on Monday, March 13th, an interior portion of park road at Jester Park is being closed for two months for construction work connected with the Jester Park Nature Center. The section being closed spans between the Hickory Ridge trailhead just past the Youth Campground to the south edge of Discovery Pond.

Park users that want to access the following amenities should enter the park through the back (north side) entrance. Coming in from the south on NW 121st St., turn left onto NW 118th Ave. and follow the curve as it turns into NW 128th St. At the end of this road you will find the back entrance to Jester Park.

  • Discovery Pond
  • Cabins
  • Shelter #5
  • Shelter #6
  • Bird Blind
  • Elk & Bison Exhibit
  • Natural Playscape
  • Campground #6

Nature Center Ground Breaking Set for March 29

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ground Breaking

Please join us to break ground on the Jester Park Nature Center on Wednesday, March 29 at 1:30 p.m. at the future site of the building. Brief remarks, followed by an informal celebration with refreshments and activities will be taking place that afternoon. The public is invited to attend.

For those unable to attend:

We will be LIVE streaming the event on Polk County Conservation's Facebook page beginning at 1:30 p.m. on March 29. 

View the complete invitation here.

For more information about the Jester Park Nature Center visit www.jesterparknaturecenter.com

Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Annual Report Released

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Polk County Water and Land Legacy bond referendum (passed in 2012) has provided us with the necessary funding to undertake many significant water quality improvement projects since its inception.

In part, this bond has allowed Polk County Conservation to start a water monitoring program to help assess watershed quality in Polk County. The first year of monitoring took place from October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016. Regular monitoring should be able to detect changes to water quality in the future.

Below are links to the condensed and full versions of these annual reports.

Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Condensed

Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Full Version 

Easter Lake Drained, Restoration to Begin Spring 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

As planned and on schedule, Polk County Conservation in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the City of Des Moines are moving forward with the next phase of the Easter Lake Watershed Plan that was developed in 2012. Successful completion of the wet dredging process in 2016, which removed hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of silt from the lake, allowed for ideal timing and conditions for the draining of Easter Lake. The lake was drained to fulfill many goals and objectives associated with the overall plan which includes the following:

  • Improve fisheries, fisheries habitat, and water quality.
  • Expose the shoreline so we can accurately evaluate public access improvements and in-lake plant life enhancements for wildlife.
  • Dry out the lake bottom so some additional mechanical dredging and shoreline work can begin in the spring of 2017.
  • Improve dam safety by installing another gate valve that will ensure safe and operative future lake level management.
  • Enhance boat ramp access for watercraft recreation interests.
  • Provide safe, non-motorized trail access around the lake by completing the Mark C. Ackelson Trail which will connect Easter Lake to Ewing Park.
  • Remove the lake from the state's impaired waters list through the execution of an extensive, multi-year watershed restoration plan.

The main gate valve in Easter Lake was fully opened in January so in-lake restoration work can begin this spring. The majority of fish in the lake exited through the gate valve and were sent downstream into the Des Moines River. We did experience some fish loss, but we took the necessary steps to minimize this by promoting relaxed fishing regulations in 2016 and working closely with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau.

Park users and neighbors can expect slight musky odor at times, but this will be minimal. Park shelters will be first-come, first-served in 2017- no reservations will be accepted. The swimming beach and boat ramp will be closed. In-lake mechanical dredging and shoreline restoration work will begin in the spring and continue through the winter and final trail construction should be completed by the end of 2017. All major improvements are expected to conclude by March of 2018 upon which time the lake will begin filling back up and fisheries will be restocked.

Questions about this project can be directed to Loren Lown, Polk County Conservation Parks and Natural Areas Planner, at 515-323-5364 or loren.lown@polkcountyiowa.gov.

Contact Us

Administration Office
11407 NW Jester Park Drive
Granger, IA 50109

P: (515) 323-5300
F: (515) 323-5354

Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

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