Polk County Conservation

News Releases

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Jester Park Nature Center Now Open

Monday, August 20, 2018

Nature Center Back Hike
The Jester Park Nature Center is now open to the public.

For more information about events, programs, and more at the Jester Park Nature Center, visit the website here

Nature Center Hours:

Summer/Spring Hours
Friday Preceding Memorial Weekend - Labor Day

Monday - Thursday | 9 AM - 8 PM
Friday - Saturday | 9 AM - 5 PM
Sunday & Open Holidays | Noon - 5 PM

Fall/Winter Hours
Tuesday After Labor Day - Thursday Preceding Memorial Day

Monday - Friday | 9 AM - 4 PM
Saturday | 10 AM - 4 PM
Sunday & Open Holidays | Noon - 4 PM

Holidays Closed: 

  • Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
  • Easter Day
  • New Year's Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day

Special Events Closed: 

 Glow Wild on September 2, 2018 | Tickets can be purchased for Glow Wild here.

Nature News Hot Off the Press!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hot off the press! Take a look at our newest publication of Nature News for upcoming events and programs in our family of parks and trails and at the Jester Park Nature Center from September - December 2018. 

Park and Trail Closures

Thursday, June 21, 2018

*September 24, 2018 UPDATE*

The following trails, campgrounds, and areas within Polk County Conservation parks and trails have been closed or are currently affected:

Jester Park
  • Campground #3
  • Interior park boat ramp
  • Campground #6
Yellow Banks Parks
  • Lower group sites are currently closed due to flooding.
  • Boat ramp
Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
  • Canoe rentals closed for the remainder of the season
    Trestle to Trestle Trail @ Lower Beaver

    Mark C. Ackelson Trail Bridge Plaques

    Wednesday, December 20, 2017

    Easter -lake1

    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.

    Easter Lake Park Capital Project Update

    Thursday, September 28, 2017

    Easter Lake Park

    Capital Project Update

    The Easter Lake renovation is making progress toward our common goal.  It is a complicated project involving but not limited to restoring the watershed, cleaning up the lake waters, renovating the fishery, and making multiple improvements to the park including a multi-use trail, sediment basins, shoreline restoration, boat ramp rebuild, invasive species control, dam infrastructure repair, and replacement of the bridge and Evergreen Avenue on the dam. Additionally, the feasibility of a Lodge facility is also being explored.

    As with any multi-year, multi-objective project there are certain actions that have to take place before others can proceed. There are periods of time when the public doesn't see much progress happening such as this summer. In order to do much of the on-shore work, such as the new trail segments and bridge and road replacement, the lakebed needed to be dry so it could be accessed with heavy equipment. This drying process took place throughout most of 2017. 

    The last phase of the Easter Lake renovation project includes additional in-lake dredging from shallow and inaccessible areas, reconstruction of the shoreline, fish habitat installation, and the completion of final phase of the Mark C. Ackelson Trail which includes a 445-foot long bridge across the west arm of the lake. This work will begin this winter and extend through the fall of 2018. Water will begin refilling the lake by the end of 2018.

    By the spring of 2019, Easter Lake Park will feature a 6.2-mile trail that circles the lake and a newly renovated 172-acre healthy lake that will provide scenic views, habitat for wildlife, and a hub for many outdoor recreation activities such as boating, paddling, fishing, and swimming.

    Click here for an updated restoration timeline.

    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.

    More Contacts