Polk County Conservation

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COVID-19 Operations Update

Monday, March 23, 2020

UPDATED: March 27, 2020 

Our top priority has been and will continue to be the health and well-being of our visitors, program attendees, volunteers, and staff.
In response to the ongoing development of COVID-19, we have decided to close the Jester Park Nature Center and the Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center’s doors to the public through April 30th, as well as pause the majority of our public programming until the Polk County Health Department advises otherwise. While our building doors may be closed, our parks and trails will remain open!
Not Closed:
  • Polk County Conservation Parks & Trails
    • We do not recommend usage of park playground equipment at this time, as it is not santized. 
  • Cabin rentals and campground operations (groups less than 10 people) shall continue as planned with participants determining their level of involvement.
  • Campgrounds open for the season on April 1st. Showerhouses will open on April 10th.
Modified Operations:
  • Jester Park Golf Course 
    • Limited indoor use, no loitering in the clubhouse, food and beverage available for carryout only.
Closed to the Public:
  • Jester Park Equestrian Center - closed thru Thursday, April 30
    • Scheduled Equine Assisted Psychotherapy programs will be modified to meet social distancing requirements and gatherings.
  • Jester Park Nature Center - closed thru Thursday, April 30
  • Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center - closed thru Thursday, April 30
  • Shelters & Rental Facilities - All private building rentals at the Nature Center, Chichaqua Bottoms Longhouse, and park shelters shall be cancelled. Please contact us for more information regarding your reservation. 
  • Group Campsites- All group sites are closed.
Public Programming & Volunteer Events:
  • All indoor and outdoor programs are cancelled until April 30, 2020. All pre-registration fee based programs will be refunded.
    • Some programs will be streamed live via Facebook. Follow the Jester Park Nature Center Facebook page or Events Calendar, along with Polk County Conservation Calendar of Events for these public live streaming programs. 
Please continue to check back for updated postings and announcements. 

Saylorville Lake Levels Rising

Monday, March 23, 2020

Saylorville Lake is projected to go to 848’ on March 25th. Lakeshore roads and trails will be the only things affected in Jester Park. The Lincoln Access Boat Ramp goes under around 851’ so we will update this announcement if that occurs.

Watch Environmental Education Programs on Facebook Live!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Tune into Polk County Conservation's Facebook page Monday - Friday at 10 a.m. for a live educational program! These digital programs are being offered as an alternative to 'in-person' programs per social distancing recommendations related to COVID-19.  

Upcoming programs include: 

  • Monday, March 23: Geocaching 101
  • Tuesday, March 24: Owls
  • Wednesdsay, March 25: Story Time - Nest Building
  • Thursday, March 26: Iowa Fish (includes aquarium fish feeding)
  • Friday, March 27: Moon/Astronomy
  • Monday, March 30: Busy Beavers


Jester Park Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center Updates

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

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The Jester Park Outdoor Recreation and Wellness Center has added summer hours and has changed the minimum ages for the bouldering room and the indoor archery and air rifle range. For more information, visit the Jester Park Nature Center's website here: www.jesterparknaturecenter.com.

Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center Hours

Winter & Spring Break Hours

Saturday | 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday & Open Holidays | Noon - 4 p.m.

March 16 - 20 | Monday - Friday | 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m

Summer Hours (Memorial Day –Labor Day)

Thursday & Friday |10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday | 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday | Noon - 4 p.m.

Bouldering Room

*Minimum Age: 4
*Adult supervision is required for ages 12 & under on the climbing wall.


Day Pass | $5

Indoor Archery & Air Rifle

*Minimum Age: 10
*Adult supervision is required for ages 16 & under on the climbing wall.

  • Indoor Archery (Saturdays Only)
  • Indoor Air Rifle (Sundays Only)

Archery (unlimited) |


Air Rifle (25 pellets) |


 For more information, call: (515)-323-5330

Leaf Recognition Towers at Jester Park

Monday, December 16, 2019

Customized 3.5” x 2” stainless steel plaques are adhered to 
one of the leaves on the donor tower upon purchase.

• A $130 donation entitles you to a plaque until all spaces have been sold.

• Sponsors may customize up to two rows of text (22 characters including spaces) per plaque

• An additional line at the top of the plaque, reading — In Memory of or In Honor of or In Honor of — may be added upon request at no charge.

• Plaque placement on the towers is organized in a numerical fashion. Requests for a specific location cannot be granted.

• Your gift is tax deductible according to current tax law. Your donation confirmation email should be used as your tax deductible receipt.

Donor Button

Nature News Hot off the Press

Thursday, December 5, 2019

The January - April 2020 Nature News has arrived! Inside you will find a complete list of our events and programs from environmental education, recreation and wellness, to volunteer opportunities from January - April.

Pick up a copy at the Jester Park Nature Center or view the digital version here.

Trestle to Trestle Trail Re-Route & Bridge Reconstruction

Monday, August 26, 2019

In the spring of 2019, the bridge over Beaver Creek along the Trestle to Trestle Trail collapsed. Designs for the new Trestle to Trestle bridge can be found HERE.


January 2020- Bid letting for new bridge                                             

Spring 2020- Start of construction                                                 

Fall/Winter 2020- Substantial completion                                             

Spring 2021- Final Completion


A reroute along the trail has been established. Please see the map reroute for the Trestle to Trestle Trail here.

Become a Friend of PCC Parks!

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Love your local Polk County Conservation Park? Show your support and benefit from a yearly membership! Friends of Jester Park and Friends of Easter Lake Park are a collaborative program of Polk County Conservation and the Great Outdoors Foundation that provides more opportunities for outdoor fun and adventures!

Benefits Include:
  • Exclusive Members-Only Events & Programs
  • Members-Only Birthday Parties
  • Outdoor Equipment Rental Discounts
  • Yearly Gift of Local Nature-Inspired Art
  • Discounts on Reservable Campsites & Designated Fee-Based Programs (At ALL Polk County Conservation Parks)
  • And more!

Your membership support provides supplemental funds needed for operations to keep our parks beautiful and enhance conservation and outdoor recreation programming.

Choose the annual membership level that fits the outdoor memories you want to create:

• Nature Lover - Individual | $25
Outdoors Family - Family (Immediate) | $100
• Trailblazer - Individual/Couple | $100
• Pathfinder - Individual/Couple | $1,000 (One-Time Gift)
• Business - Corporate Only | $1,000 + Annual

*All membership fees are tax-deductible in accordance with Iowa laws.

Become a Friend today!

Jester _Park _Color -01Easter _Lake _Logo _Wide

Mark C. Ackelson Trail Bridge Plaques

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pedestrian Bridge (1)

The 6.2-mile Mark C. Ackelson Trail winding around Easter Lake provides an ideal place for outdoor recreation and scenic views for park visitors. Cycling, skating and hiking opportunities along the trail lie adjacent to playground equipment, fishing piers, a boat ramp, and several picnic areas. Parking and trail access is available from any of the shelters and parking lots located throughout Easter Lake Park as well as at the beach. The north side of the trail is accessible from Ewing Park.

The trail will have many bridges, but the one that will be remembered by trail users is the new 440’ bridge that spans the western arm of the lake. This multiple span bridge mirrors the bow-string design concept of the other bridges on the trail, but the two twin piers with observation bump-outs will make the already scenic bridge an enjoyable spot to pause and enjoy the quiet beauty of Easter Lake.

The trail’s namesake, Mark C. Ackelson, served as President of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF) for 18 years where he provided leadership in several conservation efforts. Ackelson’s devoted passion for land, water, and wildlife served in helping INHF to protect and restore 145,000 acres of Iowa’s natural areas. Additionally, he spearheaded efforts to establish hundreds of miles of trails in an effort to support local trailside communities and get Iowans outdoors.

Along the railing of the pedestrian bridge, individual bridge plaque sponsors are recognized with a plaque bearing their name or company name, friend or loved ones’ name(s).

  • A $125 - $130 donation entitles you to a plaque until all spaces have been sold.
  • Each plaque is an engraved aluminum with satin brush finish measuring 4”w x 2¼” h.
  • Sponsors may include up to two lines of text with 17 characters each, including spaces, for a total of 34 characters per plaque.
  • An additional line at the top of the plaque, reading — In Memory of — may be added upon request at no charge.


1) Download, print and complete the Bridge Plaque Request Form from HERE. Write the text exactly as you would like it to appear on the Mark C. Ackelson Bridge. Mail the form, along with your check for $125, to:

Great Outdoors Foundation,
PO Box 8071, Des Moines, IA 50301

2) OR... order plaques for the cost of $130 online HERE

QUESTIONS, please call: (515) 323-5300

Your gift is tax deductible according to current tax law. Your donation confirmation email should be used as your tax deductible receipt.

Contact Us

Administration Office
12130 NW 128th St
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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