Monday, June 23, 2014

Amp Up Your Summer Fun!

It’s been a great year so far for this Polk County Conservation venue! The Jester Park Amphitheater was constructed in 2012, and has seen many public programs, musical guests, and private events in its short lifetime. In July and August, the amphitheater will be home to Conservation's summer concert series, Music in the Park. From rock to bluegrass, from reggae to tribute bands, summer music at Jester has provided a variety of sounds for every ear.

Lined up each Saturday for your listening pleasure this July from 6:30 - 8:30 PM:
(Click here to view the full program through August)
07/05 - Flying Pig Fiddle & Banjo
07/12 - Four Mile Creek Blue Grass
07/19 - Nate Nelson Acoustic Show
07/26 - Speaker Jennifer Pharr Davis
(Appalachian Trail Hiker)
This area is also perfect for small outdoor weddings, church services and ceremonies. It is nestled in a hillside of mature oaks with plenty of shade. A modern restroom and playground are within walking distance from the amphitheater. The adjacent mini shelter is included in the rental complete with four picnic tables.  

This area can be reserved from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 to 10:30 p.m. The rental fee is $75 for either daytime or evening usage. However, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, Saturday evening reservations are unavailable as the area is being used for environmental education programs and public events.

Click here for this facility's calendar of availability!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Jester Park Summer Kickoff

Congratulations, fellow Iowan! You officially made it through yet another blustery winter wonderland and a finicky spring. If you are anything like me, the welcome thaw is met with cheerful anticipation for laying in the sun, relaxing on a boat with fishing pole in hand and hauling out camping gear from the dark recesses of storage.

Canoeing at Discovery Pond

As this long-awaited summer draws ever closer, we here at Polk County Conservation will be celebrating  as well with the grand opening of the Jester Park cabins and the restoration of Discovery Pond (previously Two Dam Pond) on June 8, 2014. We’ll kickoff this event at 1:00 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the cabins. The festivities will come to a close at 4:00 p.m.

During this fun-filled day you may join a naturalist for a hike along the new half-mile Discovery Trail - hikes will take place every 30 minutes. Float a canoe in or explore Discovery Pond (formerly known as Two Dam Pond) via its new circumferential trail and boardwalk. Fishing is free this weekend so give it a try at this event; poles and bait will be provided. We'll be roasting s'mores at the communal fire pit so bring your appetite for a sweet treat.

Cabins open Memorial Day weekend. Reservations can be made online up to two years in advance.

Be one of the first to view the rental cabins! Each cabin has a two-story walk-out floor plan. Three cabins have one bedroom and sleep six, and one larger cabin has two bedrooms and sleep eight. Amenities include a full kitchen, restroom with shower, gas fireplace, and a barbecue grill. Reservations for the cabins opened in December 2013, and spots are filling fast! Click here to reserve your county park getaway today!

This project was made possible by Polk County Water and Land Legacy and a Land and Water Conservation grant.

Monday, April 21, 2014

PCC Takes EAB in Stride

We're continuing to prepare for camping season here at Polk County Conservation - we hope you're as excited as we are! Some incredible improvements are currently taking place at Jester, Yellow Banks, and Thomas Mitchell - not to mention this shiny new attraction at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt.

We can't wait to see campers back in our campgrounds, but wanted to spread the word about a tiny pest known as the emerald ash borer. This insect is quickly becoming famous here in Iowa – and for all the wrong reasons.

It is a non-native, small green wood-boring creature that attacks and kills ash trees. The adults live on the outside of ash trees feeding on the leaves during the summer months. The larvae look similar to white grubs and feed on the living plant tissue underneath the bark of ash trees. The trees are killed by the tunneling activity of the larvae under the tree’s bark, which disrupts the flow of water and nutrients.
Photos: adult emerald ash borer, top left (credit:; emerald ash borer larva, bottom left (credit:;
tunnelling emerald ash borer larva, center (credit: Todd Voss, IDALS); suspect ash trees, right (credit: M.H. Shour, ISU Extension).
First detected in the United States in 2002, the borer has rapidly spread west, and has now been found in various counties within Iowa. For this reason, Iowa was placed under a state quarantine in February of this year.

Iowans are encouraged not to transport firewood (or other infested materials) across county or state lines, since moving firewood poses the greatest threat to quickly spreading this insect, and others. Working together, we can protect local ash trees for as long as possible.

Polk County Conservation has developed a sensible management strategy for the existing ash trees on county-owned property. This strategy may be viewed by clicking here.

Looking for some camping tips? Check out our Outdoor Tricks & Tips Pinterest Board.