Polk County Conservation

News Releases

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Water to be Turned on in Polk County Parks & Campgrounds

Monday, April 23, 2018

Water services will be turned on in all of our parks and campgrounds the week of April 23.

Spring Prescribed Prairie and Woodland Burning in PCC Parks

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Polk County Conservation staff will be conducting prescribed prairie and woodland burns during the next few weeks at Beaver Creek Greenbelt, Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Easter Lake Park, Fort Des Moines Park, Jester Park, Thomas Mitchell Park, and Yellow Banks Park.

Polk County staff recognizes the importance of disturbance in the maintenance of native landscape systems. Without natural disturbances such as fire, native systems become dominated by the strongest competitors. This results in an unvarying landscape with fewer niches for a diverse wildlife population.

2018 Spring Burn Maps

Nature News Hot Off the Press!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hot off the press – the newest edition of Nature News is now available online! Find out what is going on in your favorite park and what events and programs are taking place May through August. View the digital version below: 

Grand Opening of the Jester Park Nature Center Scheduled for August 5

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Nature Center Grand Opening Invite 2018
Join us as we celebrate the long awaited Grand Opening of the Jester Park Nature Center on Sunday, August 5 from 1 - 5 PM
Explore the new nature center with your friends and family with the following activities: 

• Take a nature hike
• Join in on a scavenger hunt
• Listen to live music
• Cast a fishing pole
• Explore the nature center
• Target practice with an air rifle
• Shoot a bow and arrow
• Watch live animal programs
• Enjoy free ice cream (while supplies last)
• Paddle in a canoe
• And more! 

* All activities are FREE

Address: 12130 NW 128th Street, Granger, Iowa 50109

For more information visit www.jesterparknaturecenter.com

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