County-level Conservation Delivers Clean Water and Recreation For All
by Guest Blogger on Monday, October 11, 2021
Here at Polk County Conservation, we are acutely aware of the value of the public dollar. We pride ourselves on protection of Polk County’s land and water, providing quality environmental education, and numerous outdoor recreation opportunities. Using only 3% of Polk County’s budget, we oversee 23 parks and natural areas, in total over 15,000 acres. Many of the larger connecting recreational trails systems are under our purview. Our central Iowa residents put our areas to good use, with over 4.2 million visits last year!
In 2012, Polk County residents voted in strong support of a $50 million bond to support these goals. Together, we have accomplished major projects, such as the new Jester Park Nature Center and the fantastic restoration and amenities at Easter Lake Park, including greatly enhanced water sports and a beautiful paved recreation trail surrounding the lake.
In response to severe flooding, we worked with multiple partners on projects such as the creation of the Fourmile Greenway. We advanced understanding of our water quality with the most extensive monitoring program in the state and multiple projects underway to clean our waters and help mitigate future flooding. During a period of rapid growth for the Polk County area, accompanied by accelerated business and residential development, we acquired lands serving conservation for future generations to enjoy.
Fourmile Greenway, Polk County
But our work is far from complete. This fall, Polk County voters will again be asked to step up, and trust us to put your resources to work. We will continue our work with water quality, natural resources restoration, and mitigating future flood events. We will have some exciting new projects bringing diverse outdoor recreation to our area. We will continue educating our youth and our communities on our natural world. We will accomplish the tough work of upland flood retention, streambank remediation, and using natural areas to improve our water quality.
Thank you for your trust and your past support, and we look forward to our future successes together!
About the Author
Rich Leopold is the Director of Polk County Conservation. He has served in a number of conservation and leadership roles, including director of the DNR from 2007-2010 and Executive Director of IEC from 2003-2007.