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
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.
In partnership with Central Iowa Trail Association (CITA), the installation of updated trail signage is in the works on key points of access along the trail.
Chichaqua Valley Trail
The CVT will be extended 1-mile southwest from NE 29th St. to NE 46th Ave./Broadway. There will be a 10' wide paved trail, parking lot, and bio-rentention area. Work will be completed by the fall of 2019.
Updated trail and wayfinding signage are in the works.
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 Watershed Project
(click here for project timeline)
(click here for exhibit map)
Easter Lake has been filled. Fisheries will be restocked in 2019, but quality fishing in the lake is not expected until 2021.
A park celebration event and trail grand opening is scheduled for Sunday, June 23rd, from 1-5 p.m. Activities will stretch from the beach to the new pedestrian bridge. Continue to watch the website for more details!
For more information on the Easter Lake Watershed Project, view the Project's Facebook page and their wesbite.
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.
Yellow Banks Park
The pond near the cabins is currently being renovated. A bridge and boardwalk will improve access to the pond for cabin and park users.
Three rental cabins will be located at the east addition of Yellow Banks Park overlooking the pond. Cabins are scheduled to be completed by fall of 2019.
Thomas Mitchell Park
A 3-bedroom rental cabin overlooking the pond will open to the public on July 4th, 2019. This cabin was the former ranger residence.
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 is the link to the condensed and full versions of the most current annual report.
Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Condensed
Polk County Water Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report- Full Version