|Bikers on hard surface county trail|
It's been two years since November 6, 2012, marked a historic day in the world of conservation for Polk County. The Polk County Water and Land Legacy (PCWLL) bond referendum passed with 72% bipartisan support. The resources implemented under this Bond has provided Conservation with funding critical to water quality, wildlife, and projects devoted to trails and recreation opportunities for citizens and visitors of Polk County. Let's take at look at what you have helped to make a reality in our county parks and trails over the past two years!
PCWLL Bond funds have helped to acquire more than 700 acres of sensitive land in the Camp Creek Corridor between Runnells and Mitchellville, the Beaver Creek Greenbelt, a site for a youth camping at Thomas Mitchell Park, and several properties adjacent to both Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and Yellow Banks Park. Securing these areas will prove to be important for generations to come for land protection, water quality, and wildlife habitat benefits.
Trail connection has also been at the top of the PCWLL to-do list. The Chichaqua Valley and Mark C. Ackelson Trails are providing trail users with safe off-road metro-wide connections throughout Polk County. Completion of the Gay Lea Wilson Trail also created valuable connections for trail users between existing parks, trails, and businesses in adjacent counties.
Water quality issues remain at the forefront of our priorities. Efforts to improve our local watersheds and how we affect those downstream play an integral part in all project planning. Fort Des Moines Park, Beaver Creek, Camp Creek, Fourmile Creek, and Thomas Mitchell Park have seen key improvements in water quality thanks to on-going restoration efforts. Next on the list for water quality improvements is Easter Lake which will see restoration work begin in 2015.
|Father and son fishing at newly renovated Thomas Mitchell Park pond|
Our county parks have also seen exciting enhancements over the past two years thanks to the PCWLL bond. Projects include improved accessibility into and throughout the parks, new restroom facilities, parking lots, rain gardens, fishing piers, shade structures, drinking fountains, and campground upgrades.
Jester Park has and will continue to provide exciting recreational and educational opportunities thanks to PCWLL. The summer of 2014 saw the opening of the Jester Park cabins. Hiking, fishing, birding, hunting, and unwinding from the daily grind are all within reach with the comforts of home close at hand. Also on the horizon is construction of the Jester Park Conservation Center which will serve as a pivotal regional facility that will educate people of all ages about conservation and outdoor recreation in central Iowa.