Polk County Conservation

News Releases

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Fall Nature News has Arrived

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Polk County Conservation's Fall Nature News has arrived at the Jester Park Nature Center! 

Check out the many public programs and events taking place this September - December in a Polk County Conservation Park or Trail near you. 

View Nature News online here.

Trestle to Trestle Trail Re-Route

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 are currently underway, with construction anticipated to begin in the spring of 2020.


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

Park & Trail Closures

Monday, July 15, 2019

Updated on August 5, 2019

For updates on Polk County Conservation park and trail closures due to flooding, please refer back to this post, as it will be updated as information is received.

• Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt | Canoe rental closed due to low water.

• Gay Lea Wilson West Trail | Portions of the trail along Four Mile Creek are underwater. 

• Great Western Trail | The gravel section along George Flagg Parkway between Gray’s Lake Drive and SW 30th St. has severe washouts.

• Trestle to Trestle Trail | The Trestle to Trestle Trail bridge over Lower Beaver in Johnston was washed out by an ice jam in early spring 2019. Designs for the new Trestle to Trestle bridge are currently underway. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2021. The trail heading east and south is also closed due to creek stabilizations projects by the City of Des Moines. 

• Jester Park | Pingora Outdoors, located within the Outdoor Recreation & Wellness Center, will be closed for staff training until August 9, 2019. Camp Area #6, Shelter #4, and the interior boat ramp is closed. Camp Area #2 is now open for first-come first-served non-electric camping as areas become accessible, with electric sites expected to be up and running by late summer. Both tents and self-contained RV's are welcome.  

• Yellow Banks Park | The group camp area near the Des Moines River is closed until further notice. 

Jester Park Nature Center Facility Rentals

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Looking for a venue for your next corporate or personal event in a beautiful park setting? Consider the Jester Park Nature Center in Granger, Iowa! The Jester Park Nature Center is an eco-conscience building immersed in prairie and surrounded by woodlands. The nature center offers many different areas of the building for your next event.

Rental reservations are now being accepted as of January 2, 2019. Reservations can only be made six months prior to the reservation date.

View Rental Contract and Application Form here. 

*Application forms may be e-mailed, faxed, or mailed. However, payments for reservations cannot be accepted via e-mail. To pay with a credit card, please call (515) 323-5317 between 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Monday - Friday).

For hours of operation, fees, and more visit the Jester Park Nature Center's website here.

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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