Polk County Conservation

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Teens, 15 - 18: Work in Our County Parks & Trails with PCC Youth Corps!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Youth Corps Transparent Bckgrnd

The application period has been extended for the Polk County Conservation Youth Corps (PCCYC) program. Apply now! 
Spots are filling up fast! 

Work in our county parks and trails this summer, get your hands dirty, have fun and get paid! 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 for crew members ages 15-18. Deadline for applications is Friday, April 28, 2017.

Click here to access the application packet for crew leaders ages 19+. Deadline for application is Friday, April 28, 2017.

Water is on at all Polk County Campgrounds

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Water has been turned on at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Jester Park, Thomas Mitchell Park, and Yellow Banks Park. These campgrounds are also open on a first-come first-served basis. Campground reservations for a limited number of sites are currently being taken online at www.mycountyparks.com for dates after April 15th.

Road Closure in Jester Park through Mid-May

Monday, March 6, 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

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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