Current Project Updates
I. Land Acquisition and Natural Area Restoration
Polk County is the most developed county in Iowa. A lot of pressure is placed on our scarce natural areas as population increases and wildlife habitat decreases. Recently completed master plans for each park have identified potential areas for acquisition to provide buffer areas adjacent to the parks, protect natural areas, or to support planned park improvements. Conservation staff will work with partners and landowners to acquire priority properties or easements to support restoring these areas to functional wetlands, prairies and woodlands that will benefit wildlife, flood control, water quality and outdoor recreation.
Natural area restoration efforts will be primarily directed towards oxbow restoration at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (CBG) and invasive species removal and woodland/prairie planting projects at CBG, Yellow Banks, Easter Lake, and Fort Des Moines parks.
Please see Completed Projects for a list of recently acquired properties.
Mark C. Ackelson Trail (click here for project flyer)
Phase III is tentatively expected to reach completion in 2017 dependent upon progress within the larger Easter Lake restoration project. This section of the trail will connect the north and south sides of the lake, will traverse the dam and connect Easter Lake to Ewing Park.
Polk County Conservation recently acquired an abandoned railway corridor for future trail purposes stretching from Ankeny to Des Moines.
Brown's Woods (click here for project flyer)
Updated trail and wayfinding signage are in the works.
Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (click here for master plan document)
The Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Master Plan has been approved. The Polk County Conservation Board and staff are currently priotizing projects within this document which addresses future planning for this regionally significant conservation area that provides more than 8,000 acres for recreation and wildlife.
Wetland restoration and native vegetation restoration on a 311-acre acquisition is well underway with completion of site work anticipated by mid-summer 2016.
Easter Lake Park
Easter Lake Lodge
Amperage Fundraising is working with PCC staff and a Feasibility Steering Committee to complete the Easter Lake Lodge Feasibility Study. The final report will be presented to the Polk County Conservation Board by summer 2016.
Easter Lake Watershed Project
(click here for project timeline)
(click here for exhibit map)
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. Restoration and dredge work has begun.
The dredge is floating on the lake and will run in 12 hour shifts, 7 days per week. Dredging is anticipated to reach completion by November 2016. Swimming and boating will be closed for the summer 2016 season at Easter Lake during the dredging process. Fishing regulations, however, will be more relaxed from June 1, 2016 - June 1, 2017. Full regulation details are available on the homepage under News and Announcements.
For more information on the Easter Lake Watershed Project, please see the Project's Facebook page.
Fort Des Moines Park (click here for project flyer)
Recreation and Trail Improvements
Redevelopment of Fort Des Moines Park continues. Work began on the south side of the park to convert the area in between the park and Studebaker Elementary into an outdoor classroom complete with nature trails, gathering areas, interpretive signage and prairie establishment.
The north side of the pond and the peninsula as well as the area where a new 3-season shelter will be built will be under heavy construction this summer. Completion is anticipated mid-to-late summer 2016.
Additional improvements in the works include flush restrooms, peninsula trail/boardwalk/shade structures, improved trail system and bridges, boat ramp and fishing access. Click here for detailed information regarding these upcoming park enhancements.
Four Mile Creek Greenbelt
Stream and trail stabilization at Four Mile Creek Greenbelt between Ankeny and Des Moines on county-owned land within the Four Mile Creek Watershed will continue along crucial areas adjacent to the Gay Lea Wilson trail. These projects will reduce the erosion, improve water quality, and protect existing wildlife habitat and infrastructure within the greenbelt.
Nature Center (click here for project brochure)
Final designs for the Jester Park Nature Center are anticipated to reach completion during the summer of 2016. Fundraising to secure the remaining dollars needed to supplement bond contributions continues through 2016. For more information, please see this brochure and business plan.
Mark your calendars this year to come play with us in support of the Jester Park Nature Center:
- Great Outdoors Foundation Best Shot Golf Outing - June 15
- Glow Wild - September 4
- Great Outdoors Foundation Buck Naked, Need Dough Annual Dinner - November 11
Visit the Events tab at www.jesterparknaturecenter.com for further details.
Yellow Banks Park (click here for project flyer)
Staff is currently prioritizing the planning and construction of recreation amenities that will occur in 2016 and beyond. Projects include a fishing jetty and dock that 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. Staff is also analyzing how best to utilize newly aquired properties adjacent to the park.