Current Project Updates
I. Land Acquisition and Natural Area Restoration
Polk County is the most developed county in Iowa. A lot of pressure is placed on our scarce natural areas as population increases and wildlife habitat decreases. Recently completed master plans for each park have identified potential areas for acquisition to provide buffer areas adjacent to the parks, protect natural areas, or to support planned park improvements. Conservation staff will work with partners and landowners to acquire priority properties or easements to support restoring these areas to functional wetlands, prairies and woodlands that will benefit wildlife, flood control, water quality and outdoor recreation.
Natural area restoration efforts will be primarily directed towards oxbow restoration at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (CBG) and invasive species removal and woodland/prairie planting projects at CBG, Yellow Banks, Easter Lake, and Fort Des Moines parks.
Please see Completed Projects for a list of recently acquired properties.
Mark C. Ackelson Trail (click here for construction phase map)
Phase III is tentatively expected to reach completion in late summer 2018 dependent upon progress within the larger Easter Lake restoration project. This section of the trail will connect the north and south sides of the lake and west bridge crossing. Construction is set to begin in spring of 2018 and scheduled to be completed in fall of 2018, via pedestrian bridge that will traverse the dam and connect Easter Lake to Ewing Park.
If funding becomes available, Phase IV will consist of connecting Easter Lake Park and the Mark C. Ackelson trail to Indianola Avenue by way of a crushed limestone trail spur.
Updated trail and wayfinding signage are in the works.
Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt (click here for master plan document)
The Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt Master Plan has been approved. The Polk County Conservation Board and staff are currently priotizing projects within this document which addresses future planning for this regionally significant conservation area that provides more than 8,000 acres for recreation and wildlife.
Easter Lake Park
Easter Lake Lodge
Amperage Fundraising is working with PCC staff and a Feasibility Steering Committee to complete the Easter Lake Lodge Feasibility Study. The final report will soon be presented to the Polk County Conservation Board.
Easter Lake Watershed Project
(click here for project timeline)
(click here for exhibit map)
A combination of restoration practices is necessary to restore this 178-acre lake and its watershed.
Following the dredging process and as planned and on schedule, Polk County Conservation in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the City of Des Moines are moving forward with the next phase of the Easter Lake Watershed Plan.
The dredging at Easter Lake is still in progress. Drawing the lake down has revealed a substantial amount of sedimentation that requires further addressing. If wet dredging is the chosen method, the lake will need to be refilled.
In-lake mechanical dredging and shoreline restoration work will begin in the spring and continue through the winter and final trail construction should be completed by the end of 2017. All major improvements are expected to conclude by winter of 2018 upon which time the lake will begin filling back up and fisheries will be restocked.
For more information on the Easter Lake Watershed Project, please see the Project's Facebook page.
Boat Ramp Improvemment
In conjunction with the Iowa DNR Water Recreation Grant, improvements to the south boat ramp at Easter Lake Park will be made and completed by winter of 2018.
Four Mile Creek Greenbelt
Stream and trail stabilization at Four Mile Creek Greenbelt between Ankeny and Des Moines on county-owned land within the Four Mile Creek Watershed will continue along crucial areas adjacent to the Gay Lea Wilson trail. These projects will reduce the erosion, improve water quality, and protect existing wildlife habitat and infrastructure within the greenbelt.
Nature Center (click here for project brochure)
Construction for the nature center is currently in progree and is on schedule to be completed summer of 2018. View more information online at www.jesterparknaturecenter.com. Preview the brochure and business plan.
The clubhouse is under renovations to install a 3-season room, commercial kitchen and cart storage. Improvements scheduled to be completed by late May of 2018.
Irrigation system will be installed throughout the 18 hole course.
Yellow Banks Park
Updates at Yellow Banks Park will include entrance aesthetic and way finding improvements, new shelters, boat ramps, parking, and soft trail improvements. Construction began in June of 2017 and will continue through 2018.
The addition of rental cabins will be located at the east addition of Yellow Banks Park overlooking the pond. Cabins are scheduled to be completed by summer of 2018.
IV. Water Quality
Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report
The Polk County Water and Land Legacy bond referendum (passed in 2012) has provided us with the necessary funding to undertake many significant water quality improvement projects since its inception.
In part, this bond has allowed Polk County Conservation to start a water monitoring program to help assess watershed quality in Polk County. The first year of monitoring took place from October 1, 2015 - September 30, 2016. Regular monitoring should be able to detect changes to water quality in the future.
Below are links to the condensed and full versions of these annual reports.
Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Condensed
Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Full Version