Polk County Conservation

Current Project Updates


I. Land Acquisition

We anticipate properties acquired in 2014 to be in support of the Easter Lake restoration project and as part of park and stream corridor buffers at Thomas Mitchell Park and Yellow Banks Park.

Please see Completed Projects for a list of recently acquired properties. 

II. Trails

Chichaqua Valley Trail Extension

An additional 6.08 miles of trail from the city limits of Bondurant stretching to NE 29th St. where the trail crosses beneath I-80 is in the works. Upon completion of Polk County and Bondurant projects, trail users will be able to ride from Des Moines to Baxter via the Chichaqua Valley Trail.

Construction on the trail extension will begin August 18th. Completion is anticipated by April 1st, 2015 with some work occurring during the winter months.                                                   

Mark C. Ackelson Trail (click here for project flyer)

Phase II

Phase II of the circumferential trail around Easter Lake Park and through Ewing Park will encompass approximately 1.75 miles of paved trail construction on the north side of Easter Lake from Ewing Park to Evergreen Ave. This section of trail will provide for safe trail use off the park road and improved trail access to adjacent neighborhoods. Completion of this project will occur mid-October.

Phase III

Phase III will begin 2015-2016. Completion is anticipated during 2017-2018.

Trail Acquisition

Polk County Conservation recently acquired an abandoned railway corridor for future trail purposes stretching from Ankeny to Des Moines.


III. Parks

Brown's Woods (click here for project flyer)

Trailheads, Parking, & Trails

An alternative access route is available to Brown's Woods now that Veteran's Parkway has been constructed. A new parking lot has been installed, in cooperation with the City of West Des Moines, to handle vehicular and bus parking and provide safe access to Brown’s Woods. Construction of expanded trails and connections will continue through the winter months. Next spring, new restrooms, a drinking fountain, and landscaping made up of native plants willl enhance this new park access.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

Master Plan

Recent review of the effort to create a Master Plan for Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt revealed a need to take a few steps back and have further conversation. Anything worth doing is worth an extra season of care. This plan is critical for the future of one of Iowa’s most impressive natural areas, and it is imperative that it is done correctly. Due to other pressing commitments, Polk County Conservation has postponed this work. Please check back for further updates as tentative plans to resume discussions later this year are in the works.

Easter Lake Park

Easter Lake Lodge

Preliminary planning for a lodge at Easter Lake Park is taking place. This facility will be used for year-round environmental education programming and could be reserved by the public.

Easter Lake Watershed Project (click here for project flyer)

A combination of restoration practices is necessary to restore this 178-acre lake and its watershed. Planned measures include stream bank stabilization, promoting the use of no or low phosphorus fertilizer, storm water management, in-lake sediment detention basins, dredging existing storm water detention basins and portions of the lake, fish population renovation and improvement, invasive species control, and improvements to public access. Preliminary planning and design for this restoration is currently taking place (click here for project timeline).

For more information on the Easter Lake Watershed Project, please see the Project's Facebook page. A Spring Kickoff Event is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at Easter Lake Park from 12:00-3:00 p.m. 

Easter Lake Rain Gardens

Rain gardens have been installed near the beach parking lot at Easter Lake in 2014. For more information on rain gardens, check out our Rain Gardens page.

Fort Des Moines Park (click here for project flyer)

Pond Restoration

Waterway stabilization, pond restoration, and fisheries health has been completed. Fish stocking is now in progress as lake levels naturally rise. Fishing will be prohibited until 2015 when the fishery is restored.

Recreation and Trail Improvements

Design work continues on peninsula improvements and for the trail that will eventually circle the pond. Work will begin by this fall on an outdoor classroom located on the south side of the park adjacent to Studebaker Elementary. 

Four Mile Creek Greenbelt

Phase I

Bank stabilization at Four Mile Creek Greenbelt will continue for the remainder of this year between Ankeny and Des Moines on county-owned land within the Four Mile Creek Watershed. These projects will reduce the erosion, improve water quality, and protect existing wildlife habitat and infrastructure within the greenbelt. 

Jester Park

Cabins (click here for project flyer)

Construction has been completed on the four modern cabins across from Discovery Pond at Jester Park. The the larger cabin has two bedrooms and capacity to sleep eight people. The three smaller cabins have one bedroom and capacity to sleep six people. For further information and to make reservations, please visit mycountyparks.com

Jester Park Campground #2 Campsites Electric Upgrade (click here for project flyer)

Work has been completed on Campground #2. Jester Park’s electric sites are full most weekends, while many non-electric sites remain vacant. This newly renovated campground helps fill the the demand for electric camp sites throughout the park. These 28 sites have been converted to electric sites with 20, 30 and 50 amp service. 

Maintenance Facility Relocation

Construction for the new equipment maintenance building has begun. The existing building near the golf course will be removed, and the site will eventually house the new Jester Park Conservation Center. Building the new facility on the site of the old Jester Park Barn will consolidate all maintenance operations facilities in one spot near the existing park entrance. The new building is up, and work is now being completed inside the structure.

Conservation Center (click here for project flyer)

Plans and designs for the Jester Park Conservation Center have been finalized. For more information, please see this brochure and our Vision and Themes leaflet. Site preparation, including roadwork, grading, and rocking has been completed, and building construction will begin this year. We are looking for outside funding to supplement bond dollars to make this project a success. Click here to view sponsorship opportunities associated with the Center.

Thomas Mitchell Park (click here for project flyer)

Camp Creek Stabilization

Workhas been completed on stabilization of the stream bed and the collapsing banks where the creek flows through the park. This will improve water quality, protect downstream habitat, and protect existing and planned park infrastructure.

Camp Creek Crossing

Work to separate the shared pedestrian and vehicular crossing where Camp Creek flows over the access road has been completed and is now open. Limestone steps have been installed to provide a recreational access to the creek for visitors will continue through winter.

Fishing Piers

Accessible fishing piers will be installed on the dam face, north bank and west side in early spring. These piers will be located in the vicinity of the recently installed fish habitat. 

Yellow Banks Park (click here for project flyer)

Dam Repair

Work has begun and will continue throughout the winter. The outlet and overflow structures will be replaced, and the top of the dam will be lowered eight feet so park users can gain improved access to the water. The pond's water level will be lowered about six to eight feet to enable work to take place.

Site Improvements

Construction of the recreation amenities will take place in 2016. A fishing jetty and covered dock will provide anglers better access to the pond. Trail expansion will also assist anglers trying to find a more secluded spot to cast their lines. On top of the dam, park visitors will enjoy an open gathering area with a fire pit, shade structures, a new restroom, and improved parking lot.

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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