Polk County Conservation

Completed Projects

I. Land Acquisition

Yellow Banks Additions

A 18.9-acre addition to Yellow Banks Park was purchased to add additional wildlife habitat to the park and provide watershed protection for the Yellow Banks pond. Heavy erosion has adversely affected the water quality of this popular fishing spot. Smaller "upstream" wetlands will be developed and gully erosion sites eliminated in the near future. These coming developments will protect the work underway to restore and enhance the pond.

A 5-acre property adjacent to the Yellow Banks entrance has been secured for future use and park buffering. An additional 18.9 acres bordering Yellow Banks was purchased in an effort to further protect this watershed and provide quality wildlife habitat.

Beaver Creek Greenbelt Woodland Property

Twenty-six acres of land has been purchased at Beaver Creek Greenbelt along Highway 141. This riparian woodland area is a valuable wildlife habitat. Water quality improvements to Beaver Creek will begin with plans for bank stabilization.

Camp Creek Corridor Property

In partnership with Metro Waste Authority, 49 acres of land has been purchased on Camp Creek between Runnells and Mitchellville. This riparian corridor offers quality habitat and a great place for observing wildlife. Water quality improvements will occur as the stream bank is gradually stabilized. Future plans may involve constructing hiking trails through the area.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt "Shaw" Property

More than 311 acres of land at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt has been purchased to complete a NE acquisition project that has been in progress since the early 2000s. This land has been reseeded with a diverse mix of over 100 locally located prairie and wetland plant species to benefit wildlife habitat, and serve as a prime site for a variety of environmental education initiatives.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Wetland Property

More than 100 acres of land has been purchased at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt running along Highway 65, northeast of the Skunk River. This former in-holding now serves as the site of the newly constructed wildlife viewing platform. The low, wet prairie area creates an opportunity for wetland restoration and quality wildlife habitat.

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt former Mendenhall Property

Approximately 80 acres of former cropland has been added to Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt. This property is a mixture of sandy soil and former wetlands on the floodplain of the Skunk River. This "herptile friendly" property will supply excellent wildlife habitat once restored. The mixture of wetland and sandy upland will promote the diversification of reptile and amphibian populations as well as providing outstanding winter habitat for a wide range of species.

Easter Lake Addition

258 acres just north of the Des Moines River and Easter Lake Park has been acquired as a repository for dredging materials that will be removed from the lake beginning in 2016. Future plans for this site include valuable habitat for wildlife, parkland and new space for the paddlesport community.

II. Trails

Chichaqua Valley Trail Extension (click here for map)

An additional 6.25 miles of trail from the city limits of Bondurant stretching to NE 29th St. where the trail crosses beneath I-80 is complete. This Polk County and Bondurant project allows trail users to ride from Des Moines to Baxter via the Chichaqua Valley Trail.

An additional section of trail connecting into Mally's Park has been added to provide easier access to park amenities.

Gay Lea Wilson Trail Connection (Des Moines to Ankeny)

(click here for project flyer)

The connection between Ankeny and Des Moines is complete. A paved 2.5 mile segment of trail between 29th Avenue and Aurora Avenue adjacent to Four Mile Creek is now open. In conjunction with this trail construction, two lengths of the creek have been stabilized along the Four Mile Greenbelt.

Mark C. Ackelson Trail (click here for project flyer)

Phase I

Phase I of the Mark C. Ackelson/Easter Lake Trail is complete. The Trail now encompasses approximately 2 miles of paved trail construction on the south side of the park from Shelter #4 to Easter Lake Drive.

Phase II

Phase II of the circumferential trail around Easter Lake Park and through Ewing Park encompasses approximately 1.75 miles of paved trail on the north side of Easter Lake from Ewing Park to Evergreen Ave. This section of trail provides for safe trail use off the park road and improved trail access to adjacent neighborhoods.

In an effort to improve water quality, rain gardens and a bioretention cell have been constructed as a part of the Mark C. Ackelson Trail Phase II. These features aid in filtration of water runoff from parking lots before entering the lake.

High Trestle Trail Oasis

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT Vault Toilet was installed in June 2013. This vault toilet replaced portable toilets that have previously been on-site. It will be easier to clean, fully accessible, more vandal resistant, have much less odor and an extended life.

Great Western Trail

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT Vault Toilet was installed at the trailhead in June 2013. This vault toilet replaced portable toilets that have previously been on-site. It will be easier to clean, fully accessible, more vandal resistant, have much less odor and an extended life.

Bill Riley Trail Connection

An extension along Great Western Trail from the trailhead east to the Bill Riley Trail is now in place to provide an all-weather connection for trail users. 

Trail Acquisition

Polk County Conservation acquired an abandoned railway corridor for future trail purposes stretching from Ankeny to Des Moines. This section will connect to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail on the north end by Carney Marsh. Proposed connections are to the Chichaqua Valley Trail, the northside of the Des Moines area and the Neal Smith Trail on the southside of I-80. 

III. Parks

Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt

Hwy 65 Wildlife Overlook

Thanks to a partnership with the Iowa DNR, the wildlife viewing platform has been constructed and is now open to the public. Spotting scopes have been installed, and the design of interpretive information is underway. Next spring, after the installation of this interpretive material, a grand opening will be held. Keep an eye on our website for when this will take place.

Marsh Pump Replacement

A new marsh pump was installed in the fall of 2013 to replace the non-functional system.

Master Plan

The Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Master Plan was approved by the Polk County Conservation Board. This document addresses future planning for this regionally significant conservation area that consists of more than 8,000 conservation acres. View the plan here.

Management Plan

The Polk County Conservation Board and staff along with Keith Summerville of Drake University have developed an extensive management plan in conjunction with the existing Master Plan which addresses future planning for this regionally significant conservation area that provides more than 8,000 acres for recreation and wildlife. View the plan here.


Wetland restoration and native vegetation restoration on a 311-acre acquisition was completed in summer 2016.

Easter Lake Park

Park Roads

Existing paved roads were in need of crack sealing or asphalt overlays to extend the life of the roads and provide safer travel conditions. Also, dust from gravel surfaced roads presented sanitary health issues, maintenance difficulties and mobility challenges for park visitors. Plans have been made to fix the problems on the north and south sides of Easter Lake Park. Asphalt overlay between shelters #3 and #4 has now been completed.

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT vault toilet was installed in June 2013 near shelter #4. This new toilet facility replaced an aging restroom that was in need of replacement. It will be easier to clean, fully accessible, more vandal resistant, have much less odor and an extended life.

Rain Gardens

Rain gardens and biorention cells have been installed near parking lots to filter runoff before it enters the lake. For more information on rain gardens, check out our Rain Gardens page.

Jester Park

Jester Park Nature Center (click here for project brochure)

Site preparation, including roadwork, grading, and rocking has been completed. Building plan revisions have been finalized.

Vault Toilet Addition

CXT restrooms were place at Shelter #2 and Camp Area #2.

Discovery Pond (click here for project flyer)

Restoration work to the pond has been completed. Fish stocking has been completed. A .3 mile accessible trail around the pond has also been completed. It connects to the new fishing pier and canoe/kayak launch. A shed for rental equipment has also been built on this site.

Cabins (click here for project flyer)

Construction has been completed on the four modern cabins across from Discovery Pond at Jester Park. The larger cabin has two bedrooms and capacity to sleep eight people. The three smaller cabins have one bedroom and capacity to sleep six people. For further information and to make reservations, please visit mycountyparks.com

Jester Park Campground #2 Campsites Electric Upgrade (click here for project flyer)

Work has been completed on Campground #2. Jester Park’s electric sites are full most weekends, while many non-electric sites remain vacant. This newly renovated campground helps fill the the demand for electric camp sites throughout the park. These 28 sites have been converted to electric sites with 20, 30 and 50 amp service.

Maintenance Facility Relocation

Construction of the new equipment maintenance building is complete.  Building the new facility on the site of the old Jester Park Barn has consolidated all maintenance operations facilities in one spot near the existing park entrance. The former building near the golf course will be removed, and this site will eventually house the new Jester Park Conservation Center.

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT restroom was placed at Jester Park Shelter #2.

Thomas Mitchell Park (click here for project flyer)

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT restroom was placed at the pond.

Accessible Trail

An accessible trail that circles the pond and provides complete access to the site has been completed and is now open to the public. This new trail construction connects the accessible trail to the existing park trail system. Combined, these trails provide over three miles of recreational opportunities.

Park Features

The new crossing over Camp Creek, which provides separation between vehicular and pedestrian park users, has reached completion and is open.

Accessible fishing piers have been installed on the dam face, north bank and west side of the pond.

Limestone steps have been installed throughout Camp Creek to provide improved recreational access to the water.

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT restroom was placed at the Thomas Mitchell Park pond.

Brown's Woods

Trailheads, Parking, & Trails

An alternative access route is available to Brown's Woods via the newly constructed Veteran's Parkway. A new parking lot has been installed, in cooperation with the City of West Des Moines, to handle vehicular and bus parking and provide safe access to Brown’s Woods. A dual CXT restroom was placed near the parking lot as well. Expansion of the trails and connections throughout Brown's Woods provides visitors with improved access to the park.  

Fort Des Moines Park

Pond Restoration

Waterway stabilization, pond restoration, and enhanced fisheries health have been completed. These efforts have been realized in the visible improvement of water quality at the Fort Des Moines pond.

Recreation and Trail Improvements

The new hiking trails have been resurfaced.

Park Redevelopment

Work is now complete on the south side of the park where the area in between the park and Studebaker Elementary was converted into an outdoor classroom complete with nature trails, gathering areas, interpretive signage and prairie establishment.

Additional improvement additions include flush restrooms, peninsula trail and boardwalk, shade structures, improved trail system and bridges, boat ramp and fishing access around the pond.The park now has a 3-season shelter available for reservation.

Yellow Banks Park

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT restroom was placed at the tent camping area.

Dam Repair

Stabalization of the dam has been complete. The outlet and overflow structures have been replaced, and the top of the dam lowered eight feet so park users can gain improved access to the water. The water control structure has been closed to allow the pond to fill.

Vault Toilet Addition

A CXT restroom was placed at the Yellow Banks tent camping area.

Pond Trail

A new trail was built around the pond. This route provides pond and fishing access as well as connection to woodland areas that were previously inaccessible. Bridges were installed for trail users to pass safely over gullies.

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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