and things to do... and things to do... Rental Skis and Snowshoes by xumiaomaio


									                                                                      and things to do...
                         Polk County Conservation’s 2007 Nature Programs and News
                                                                                        January - April 2010
                                                                                    January - April 2007
Contents                          Rental Skis and Snowshoes
PCC News
  page 2-5                              Now Available
Public Programs
  page 6-10

Summer Camps
  page 9

  page 10-11

  page 12

 page 13

Yearly Calendar          You don’t have to dread the winter season! Why not entertain the idea of
  page 14                cross-country skiing or snowshoeing? Fresh snowfall creates perfect conditions
                         for prime skiing or snowshoeing and physical exercise.
Contribution Card
  page 15                There are many benefits of being active outdoors in the winter. Cross-country
                         skiing and snowshoeing are great ways to exercise. They burn more calories per
O.W.L.S. (Older,Wiser,   hour compared to other sports because you are working almost every muscle in
Livelier Seniors)        your body. It’s also a peaceful way to enjoy the winter season. Whether it’s see-
   page 16               ing animal tracks in the snow or listening to birds sing, cross-country skiing and
                                                                                        ...continued on page 2

         Thank you to our major sponsors of the 2009 Buck Naked Need Dough Fundraiser:
     Hubbell Realty Company, Capital City Equipment Company, Jester Insurance Services,
    Landscapes by Design, Metro Waste Authority, Hallett Materials, and Snyder & Associates

                    Special thanks to: Bricky Gentry Law Firm and Carylann Mucha ...continued on page 3
                                                                                                (515) 323-5300 
Skis & Snowshoes continued....                                             Jester Park Master Plan
snowshoeing offers you an opportunity to enjoy                                    Complete
and become a part of the winter landscape.

Whether you are an avid skier or just a beginner,                     Following a year-long planning process, the Jester
there are several great places to cross-country ski                   Park Master Plan has been completed and was
in Central Iowa. You will find groomed cross-                         approved by the Polk County Conservation Board
country ski trails in Jester Park and Chichaqua                       at the December 2009 board meeting. The Plan
Bottoms Greenbelt as well as at Big Creek State                       provides a guide for future development of the
Park. Of course you can break your own ski trail                      1,834 acre park for the next 10-20 years. The plan
or snowshoe just about anywhere in most public                        is conceptual in nature and is not intended to
parks.                                                                address detailed issues related to site planning,
                                                                      facility designs or ongoing park operations.
If you don’t have your own skis or snowshoes,
consider renting a pair from Polk County                              The process involved the local public, park users,
Conservation. Thirty sets of snowshoes, cross-                        Corps of Engineers, Iowa Department of Natural
country skis, boots, and poles have been purchased                    Resources, Polk County Conservation Advisory
to use for education classes and rental. The                          Committee, RDG Planning and Design
equipment is sized mainly for adults. Equipment                       consultants, and Polk County Conservation Staff
can be reserved in advance by calling (515) 323-                      through public workshops, working sessions, and
5300. Equipment must be picked up and dropped                         ongoing meetings.
off at Jester Park during normal business hours,
Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.                                Public input and park managers identified a variety
                                                                      of park needs in response to the changing amount
This winter Polk County Conservation is offering                      and type of users. These needs included improved
several opportunities for people to cross-country                     access to and within the park, improved camping
ski and snowshoe. See pages 6-7 for information                       facilities, additional trail opportunities, expanded
on classes.                                                           winter access, more accessible facilities, and
Cross-Country Ski Rental:                                             increased amenities in support of interpretation
Skis, boots, poles...........................................$8/day   and environmental education activities.

Snowshoe Rental:                                                      Several significant improvements are recommend-
Snowshoes only.............................................$7/day     ed in the master plan. These improvements involve
                                                                      land uses, natural resources, vehicular and trail
      High Trestle Trail Bridge                                       circulation, recreation facilities, interpretation &
       Under Construction                                             administration facilities, Lodge facilities, Eques-
                                                                      trian Center Facilities, and Golf Course Facilities.
                                                                      The recommended improvements identified in the
                                                                      plan are anticipated to be implemented over time.
                                                                      Cost estimates have been developed for each

                                                                      To view the newly adopted Jester Park Master
                                                                      Plan, go to

The one-half mile long High Trestle Trail bridge
near Woodward is under construction. 700 feet of
bridge spans have been set and 330 feet of bridge
deck concrete has been poured.
        009 Buck Naked Need Dough Fundraiser Update
The Great Outdoors Fund would like to thank our Buck Naked Need Dough sponsors, contributors, and
guests. The 5th annual Buck Naked Need Dough fundraiser, held on Friday, November 13, 2009, was a
huge success. 300 guests were in attendance and more than $33,000 was raised to support The Fund.
Contributions will help fund the following projects:
       * Trail projects and connections
       * Land acquisition and restoration
       * Ask the Naturalist Radio Show
       * Outdoor recreation facilities and programming
       * At-risk youth equestrian camp scholarships and busing for school field trips

                                        1 Point Buck Sponsors

                             8 Point Buck Sponsors
           Metro Waste Authority, Hallett Materials, and Snyder & Associates
   Capital City Equipment Company, Jester Insurance Services, Landscapes by Design

                                     Button Buck Sponsors
                               Brick Gentry Law Firm, Carlyann Mucha

Special thanks to event contributors:
Kevin Fina, Iowa Beverage Systems            Wayne Graham                         Barry Vosler
WineStyles of West Glen                      Jim Hubbell                          Mike Smith
Iowa Outdoor Unlimited                       Bob Jester                           Tom Levis
Polk County Conservation/Staff               Mike LaMair                          Tina Mowry-Hadden
Neil Shultz                                  Carole Reichardt                     Michelle McEnany
Kelly Daugherty, Auctioneer                  Christiani’s Catering                Larry Stanton
Chad Daugherty, Auctioneer                   Centro                               Reba Roof
Citadel Broadcasting                         The Des Moines Embassy Club          Douglas Wood
Capital 106.3 Radio                          Flying Mango                         Dave McVicker
Polk County Conservation Volunteers          Splash
Mid American Energy                          Kin Folks
Luxco Spirited Brands                        Sam & Gabe’s

Thank you to our table sponsors:
Artistic Waste, Carole Reichardt, Dennis Parker, Jacobson Staffing Company, Keck Oil Company
Mike LaMair, Landscapes By Design (2 tables), Next Step Incorporated, Pat Boddy, RDG Planning and
Design, Trilix Marketing Group
                                                                                 (515) 323-5300 
                                                         Polk County Conservation
                                                           Advisory Committee
                                                         Member Applications Now
                                                              Being Accepted
“Get Outside” Conservation                             The Polk County Conservation Advisory Com-
    Videos Now Online                                  mittee was established in 2007. Approximately
Polk County Conservation recently received a           20 members serve on the committee for two year
REAP-CEP grant to produce 18 conservation              terms with a goal of providing professional
videos. The videos are available on our website        feedback to Polk County Conservation staff and
and will air on a variety of local cable stations. The board members on various planning and
video series title “Get Outside” will show viewers programming issues.
how to have fun while exploring Central Iowa’s
great outdoors. Explore the mysterious Skunk           The Committee meets five times per year. Mem-
River oxbows by kayak and find out the best            bers are asked to offer their ideas and professional
places to ice fish and cross country ski.              expertise on discussion items, gather public per-
                                                       ception on various topics, and conduct external
Your feedback is important to us. Once you have
                                                       research in order to accomplish committee goals.
viewed a video, please take the on-line survey.
After completing the survey, you will receive a
                                                       Polk County Conservation is now accepting
sport pack and be entered into a drawing to win a
                                                       membership applications to be a part of this
free guided outdoor adventure with Heidi, the host
                                                       advisory committee. New members will begin
of “Get Outside.”
                                                       their term in January of 2010. We enjoy
Whatever it is you like to do outdoors, any time is working with committee members for the benefit
a great time to get outside. So what are you           of Polk County’s outdoor recreation opportunities,
waiting for, check out these videos and then…GET environmental education initiatives, and natural
OUTSIDE!!!                                             resource protection.

                                                       If you are interested in serving on the
 Steppin’ Out – Healthy Polk                           Advisory Committee, please contact Kami Rankin
         00 Grant                                    at 515.323.5363 or
We are very happy to have been awarded a     
$12,000 grant to help get teens more physically
active in the outdoors. We are working with
several after school youth programs throughout
                                                             Chichaqua Longhouse
the county to show youth how having fun in the                 Receives Facelift
outdoors can lead to a healthier lifestyle. Students   Numerous improvements have been made to the
are engaging in activities such as fishing, snow-      42-year old Longhouse at Chichaqua Bottoms
shoeing, geocaching, canoeing, and hiking. These       Greenbelt. The interior received a new epoxy floor
activities can be enjoyed throughout a person’s        surface, windows and steel doors. On the outside
lifetime. This grant provides funding for trans-       of the building a rubberized coating was added
portation and a pedometer for every student. The       to the metal roof along with aluminum fascia and
students are asked to record their steps and activi-   soffit. A 36-inch tall cultured stone exterior wall
ties for one week to see how active or inactive        was added along with cedar siding. And last but
they might be. This visual reminder will encourage     not least a new septic system was installed. Reser-
students to become more active and less likely to      vations for the Longhouse can be made online at
develop weight related illnesses like diabetes.
              Going Green                                  Master Conservationist
  Quick, cheap, and easy ways to conserve and save
                                                              April 6 - May 

                                                      This course will cover a variety of topics related to
                                                      Iowa’s natural resources and environmental health.
                                                      Participants will acquire tools that will help them
                                                      lead a life that contributes to sustainability. Those
                                                      who attend the series are eligible to become
                                                      certified as Master Conservationists through Iowa
                                                      State University Extension.

                                                      To become a Master Conservationist you need to:
                                                      ♦	 Have an interest in conservation and
                                                         environmental issues and concerns
                                                      ♦	 Attend hands-on training sessions
How many old shoes do you have piled up in your       ♦	 Provide 32 hours of volunteer efforts
closet? No one likes to throw away shoes, so why      ♦	 Have a willingness to learn and share ideas
not consider donating your old footwear to a reuse
or recycling program to save landfill space or help
                                                      Course topics will include Iowa’s physical
out someone in need?
                                                      environment, ecological principles and techniques,
                                                      wildlife diversity, woodlands, prairies, wetlands,
                                                      sustainable agriculture and land use, energy and
• You’ll create less waste while cleaning out your
                                                      waste reduction, and water quality.
closet – Reuse-A-Shoe alone has kept more than
23 million pairs of shoes out of landfills.
                                                      The course will be held on seven consecutive
• Every pair helps – gently worn shoes can outfit
                                                      Tuesday nights, April 6 - May 18, from 6:00
feet in the developing world, while shabby ones
                                                      - 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 22 from 8:00
can be made into surfacing for things like tennis
                                                      - 4:00 p.m. Locations will vary with participants
                                                      receiving field experience.
Nike Reuse-A-Shoe – drop off any brand of ratty
athletic shoes, and the company will grind them up    The Master Conservationist Program is limited
into surfaces for playgrounds, tennis courts, and     to 30 participants. The registration fee is $70.
tracks. The only drop off site in Iowa is the Nike    Registration deadline is March 26.
Factory Store, 241 Tanger Dr., Williamsburg, Iowa

Soles4Souls – donate used but useable pairs to
people in developing countries. Drop off any kind
of shoes at Fitness By Design, 4715 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa, 50312.                Electronic Newsletter
                                                        To save resources we would like to reduce the
One World Running – donate near new athletic             number of newsletters printed and mailed. If
shoes to cash-poor sports players across the world.        you would like to receive this newsletter
For more information go to:                                      electronically, please email: or call (303)      
473-1314 or (303) 828-4391.
Programs                                                                      (515) 323-5300 6
Each year Polk County naturalists select a variety of programs we feel the public will enjoy. Our
programs have been designed with you in mind, so they are both educational and fun.
• Program and event information is available by calling our administrative office at 515-323-5300,
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. You can also visit
• Fees and registration are not required unless otherwise noted.
• Many programs are family-oriented and are designed so all ages can participate.
• Outdoor programs will be canceled if there is lightning, blizzard like condtions, or heavy rain.
• Programs are developed for beginners. No prior experience is required unless noted.
• Youth and adult groups such as church, scouts, and 4-H are always welcome.

                    Fly-Tying                          Ice Fishing Clinic
           January , 7:00 - 9:0 p.m.                        January 9,
                Jester Park Lodge                        Noon - :00 p.m.
If you have always wanted to learn how to tie                Jester Park,
your own flies for fly fishing, now is your chance.           Shelter #
Learn the differences between wet and dry flies,      Come and learn the
streamers, bucktails, nymphs, and when to use         basics of ice fishing and
them. Participants will learn how to tie a wooly      get some hands-on ex-
bear and a nymph. Presented by Central Iowa Fly       perience. Anyone over
Fishers. Pre-registration required; deadline is       the age of 16 will need
December 31. Minimum age 12. Fee $10.                 a valid fishing license.
                                                      Bait and poles will be provided. Bring something
                                                      to sit on and dress warmly. All ages welcome.
              Hike Polk County
 Join in on this program that is sure to get                Cross-Country Skiing Basics
 yourself more active, teach you about nature                      January , 10:00 - Noon
 and introduce you to some exciting places here                Raccoon River Nature Lodge
 in Polk County. Each month a naturalist will         Learn the basics of cross-country skiing and
 lead you on an exciting new adventure. Come to       practice your skills on the lakeshore trail. Proper
 one, or all. These programs are free and fun for     clothing, equipment, and skiing techniques will
 all ages. If you attend six or more you will be      be discussed before we practice our new skills
 awarded with a free gift.                            on the trails. This class is co-sponsored by West
 January 9 - 1:00 p.m. - Easter Lake Park,            Des Moines Parks and Recreation. Class will be
 Shelter #3                                           canceled without snow. Pre-registration required;
 February 20 -1:00 p.m. - Brown’s Woods               deadline is January 20. Minimum age 10. Fee: $10
 March 17 - 1:00 p.m. - Fort Des Moines Park,         (includes skis, boots, and poles).
 Shelter #1
 April 17 - 10:00 a.m. - Yellow Banks Park, meet                        Owl Prowl
 at pond parking lot                                             January 9, 6:0 - 7:0 p.m.
 May 1 - 1:00 p.m. - Thomas Mitchell Park, meet                   Jester Park, Camp Area 
 at pond parking lot                                  Bundle up and join a naturalist for a campfire
 June 29 - 6:30 p.m. - Sandhill Prairie, Chichaqua    program to learn about owls. After a brief
 July 8 - 6:30 p.m. - Jester Park, Shelter #5         discussion about these flying predators of the
 More hikes to come in following months               night, we will go for a hike and learn how to call
                                                      three different species of owls. All ages welcome.
             To register for a program, go to
Programs                                            7
               Snowshoe Hike                                           Tricky Tracks
        January 0, 10:00 a.m. - Noon                           February 1, 10:0 - 11:0 a.m.
      Fort Des Moines Park, Shelter #1                                Jester Park Lodge
Learn how easy and fun snowshoeing can be while       Have you seen all of the animals that live in the
experiencing the great outdoors. Wear warm water-     woods or in your neighborhood? Come to this
proof boots. Class will be canceled without snow.     program and you’ll learn how to find the signs
Pre-registration required; deadline is January 27.    that tell you without having to see them. All ages
Minimum age 8. Fee: $5 (includes snowshoes).          welcome.

              Ice Fishing Clinic                                       Birds of Iowa
         January 0, Noon – :00 p.m.                           February 1, 1:00 - :00 p.m.
      Fort Des Moines Park, Boat Ramp                                  Jester Park Lodge
See description for January 9 Ice Fishing program.    Come learn about some common and not so
Anyone over the age of 16 will need a valid fishing   common Iowa birds. You’ll have an opportunity to
license.                                              see a variety of bird mounts and learn about bird
                                                      characteristics. All ages welcome.
                   Hog Wild
          February , 6:0 - 7:0 p.m.                              Bald Eagle Watch
               Jester Park Lodge                               February 1, Noon - :00 p.m.
Iowa is known for its hogs, but there is more than       Saylorville Lake and Jester Park Lodge
one kind of “hog” in Iowa. Come get “hog wild”        Stop by the Saylorville Visitors Center to learn
with a Polk County Conservation naturalist as we      about our national symbol, the bald eagle. Then
discuss the ground hog. All ages welcome.             venture out to different areas around the lake to
                                                      observe them in their natural setting. The Jester
                                                      Park Lodge will be hosting “Spirit”, a live eagle
      Cross-Country Skiing Basics                     used for education. Hourly programs at 1:00, 2:00,
      February 6, 10:00 a.m. - Noon and
                                                      and 3:00 p.m. will give you a close look at this
                  1:00 - :00 p.m.
                                                      amazing species. All ages welcome.
               Chichaqua Longhouse
Learn the basics of cross-country skiing and
practice your skills on beautiful woodland trails.                  Ice Fishing Clinic
Proper clothing, equipment, and skiing techniques              February 1, 1:00 – :00 p.m.
will be discussed before we practice our new skills            Easter Lake Park, Shelter #
on the trails. Class will be held with or without     See description for January 9 Ice Fishing program.
snow. Sign up for the 10:00 or 1:00 class. Pre-       Anyone over the age of 16 will need a valid fishing
registration required; deadline is February 3.        license.
Minimum age 10. Fee: $10 (includes skis, boots,
and poles).                                                  Create a Backyard Habitat
                                                                  March , 6:0 - 7:0 p.m.
                                                                      Jester Park Lodge
               Snowshoe Hike                          Learn how to take care of your piece of the planet
          February 7, :00 - :00 p.m.
                                                      for your own peace of mind, and increase habitat
             Chichaqua Longhouse
                                                      in the process. Landscape your yard the natural
See description for January 30 Snowshoe Hike
                                                      way with Iowa-friendly native plants. Inger Lamb
program. Pre-registration required; deadline is
                                                      with Prairie Landscapes of Iowa will present this
February 3. Minimum age 8. Fee: $5 (includes
                                                      program. Pre-registration required; deadline is
                                                      February 26. Fee: $5.
Programs                                                                    (515) 323-5300 8
          Wild Night Life & Hike                                   Run for the Egg!
           March 16, 7:0 - 9:00 p.m.                            April , 8:00 - 11:00 a.m.
           Jester Park, Camp Area                         Easter Lake Park, meet at beach
Sit down around a campfire and learn about the      Runners, walkers, families and outdoor enthusiasts
wild night life in Jester Park. A short hike will   are invited to “Run for the Egg”, a 5-mile cross-
follow as we search for some of these nocturnal     country run/walk at Easter Lake Park on Easter
animals. All ages welcome.                          weekend. Participants will run or walk on a
                                                    multi-surface trail.
  Nature’s Stories, Songs, and More                 Activities for the Day:
           March 18, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.             8:00 a.m. - Registration at beach parking lot
       West Des Moines Public Library               9:00 a.m. - 5-mile run/walk begins
Are you looking for some great stories and fun      10:00 a.m. - Youth activities
songs to share with your family? Join a Polk        10:30 a.m. - Awards Ceremony
County naturalist for a morning of fun with your    Awards include handpainted eggs: 1st place -
child. All ages welcome.                            Ostrich egg, 2nd place - Emu egg and 3rd place
                                                    - Rhea egg. Medals will also be presented. For a
             Winter Stargazing                      registration form, go to www.leadingyououtdoors.
           March 19, 7:0 - 9:00 p.m.               org. Pre-registration is $20 (includes t-shirt) or
             Chichaqua Longhouse                    $30 the day of the race. Pre-registration deadline
Turn your eyes to the sky to view the constella-    is March 26. All ages welcome.
tions Orion, the Big and Little Dippers,
Cassiopeia, and more. Local astronomers will              I Grew It Myself - A Guide to
provide telescopes. All ages welcome.                     Growing Healthy Vegetables
                                                                 April 6, 6:0 - 8:0 p.m.
          Rain Barrel Workshop                                      Jester Park Lodge
          March 7, 10:00 a.m. - Noon               Think you can’t grow your own chemical free
              Easter Lake Park Shop                 vegetables? Don’t have time? Don’t have the
Did you know that 50% of the pollution in our       space? Don’t have the energy to start? Learn how
lakes and rivers is washed in by storm water? One   to grow your own healthy vegetables from
way to slow down storm water runoff is to install   beginning to end. And, best of all, without a lot of
a rain barrel. A short discussion about ways to     work, worry or chemicals. Topics covered will be
collect and use runoff water will be held before    soil preparation, companion planting, easy weed
participants construct their own rain barrel. All   control, controlling diseases and insects, small
materials and tools will be provided. Make sure     space ideas, harvesting tips, clean-up and simple
you are able to transport your 55-gallon barrel     rules for composting. Pre-registration required;
back to your home after the workshop. Pre-          deadline is March 30. Fee: $10.
registration required; deadline is March 19.
Fee: $45.                                           Earth Day & Arbor Day Tree Planting
              Geocaching Hike                       Join Polk County Conservation staff to celebrate
            March 8, 1:0 - :00 p.m.              Earth Day and Arbor Day with a tree planting
       Fort Des Moines Park, Shelter #1             project in one of our local parks. Check our
Learn how to use a GPS unit to find hidden          website at for the
treasures, called geocaches, in the woodland at     time and location when details become available.
Fort Des Moines Park. GPS units will be available   All ages welcome.
for use at this program. All ages welcome.
             To register for a program, go to
Summer Camps                                            9
          Water Wonders Camp
                    June 1 - 18
              9:00 a.m. - :0 p.m.
                 Ages 8 - 9 years
         Meeting location: Jester Park,
                Shelter by Lodge
Come and get your feet wet as we discover all
we can about water. We’ll compare ponds, rivers,
lakes, and wetlands plus the animals that live in
them. Daily field trips will take us to other Polk
County parks.

Fee: $100. Registration deadline is June 4.
Limited to 12 campers.

          Junior Naturalist Camp
                   June 1 - 
               9:00 a.m. - :0 p.m.
                Ages: 10 - 11 years                          S.O.S. (Seeking Outdoor Skills)
          Meeting location: Jester Park,                      June 8 - July 1, 9:00 a.m. - :0 p.m.
                Shelter by Lodge                                         Ages: 1 - 1 years
Do you know a child who loves the outdoors?                  Meeting location: Raccoon River Park
Campers will spend the week fishing, canoeing,                  Nature Lodge, West Des Moines
hiking, geocaching and more while exploring the          Get outside and get active in the great outdoors.
outdoors. Campers will also learn how to use a           Go kayaking and canoeing, discover treasures
compass, build a fire, and cook a meal over a fire.      while geocaching, explore woodlands and streams,
At the end of the week, campers will become              enjoy nature and all its wonders with a
official Iowa Junior Naturalists and receive a           naturalist. This camp is co-sponsored by Polk
badge and certificate. Daily field trips will take us    County Conservation and West Des Moines Park
to other Polk County parks.                              & Recreation.

Fee: $100. Registration deadline is June 11.             Fee: $100. Registration deadline is June 18.
Limited to 12 campers.                                   Limited to 20 campers.
                To register for a camp, go to
 Camp Details: These day camps are designed to encourage hands-on learning through outdoor
 explorations, activities, games, crafts, and more. Camps will be led by naturalists. Campers are asked
 to bring a water bottle and sack lunch everyday. Afternoon snacks will be provided.

                                          Mission Statement
Polk County Conservation Board’s mission is to provide the citizens of Polk County with quality out-
door recreation, conservation education, and long-term protection of Polk County’s natural heritage.
                                  Heidi Anderson, Editor and Naturalist
The Nature News is a free publication produced three times a year. If you are not currently on the mailing list
and wish to have a copy sent directly to your home or business, call the Polk County Conservation Office, Mon-
day-Friday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 515-323-5300 or email It is also
available on-line at
Programs & Trips                                                                (515) 323-5300 10
           Nature Friends
    Preschoolers Exploring Nature
           --year olds with an adult                           Prairie Chicken Viewing
                   6:0 - 7:0 p.m.                                         April  - 
Join a naturalist in a nature adventure! We will                           Mt. Ayr, Iowa
explore a different nature topic each evening           Join us for a chance to see wild prairie chickens at
through stories, sharing time, guided exploration,      Kellerton Grasslands Bird Conservation Area in
and art activities. Snacks will be provided.            southern Iowa. According to Iowa DNR Wildlife
Fee: $7/program                                         biologist Chad Paup, “This is our only public prai-
                                                        rie chicken booming ground and there’s nothing
New! Participate in a Park Passport Program.            else like it anywhere in Iowa…Iowans can come
Attend five different programs, each located at a       and be virtually guaranteed the chance to observe
different park and receive a Nature Friend              and hear wild prairie chickens as they display and
Explorer Pack. Participants must record program         conduct their annual spring ritual.” We’ll drive
name, location and date with the speaker’s initials     down the night before, stay at a hotel, and rise be-
on their passport. Turn the passport in at the Jester   fore the sun to get in place for the best viewing of
Park Office or Raccoon River Nature Lodge in            the prairie chickens. We’ll provide spotting scopes
West Des Moines to receive your Nature Friend           and participants need to provide binoculars.
Explorer Pack. One pack per child please.
                                                        Fee: $75; includes transportation (15 passenger
March 2 - Silly Sally at Raccoon River Nature           van), lodging (double occupancy), and breakfast.
Lodge                                                   Departure from Living History Farms parking
March 23 - Tricky Tracks at Raccoon River Park          lot at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, and return by noon on
Nature Lodge                                            Saturday. Registration deadline is April 16.
April 6 - Nature’s Treasure Hunt at Jester Park
April 19 - Raining Rainbows at Pearson Park

These programs are co-sponsored by the Des
Moines Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, Polk
County Conservation, and West Des Moines Parks
and Recreation. To register for Nature Friends,
please call the West Des Moines Parks and
Recreation office at (515) 222-3444 or register
online at                                 The viewing platform at Kellerton Grasslands

                                                                 Wind, Rock, & Fire Tour
                                                                     Adair County
                                 Des Moines                      May , 8:00 a.m. to :0 p.m.
                                                        Tour a wind farm in Adair County. Visit the
        Polk County Conservation
                                                        “Patriotic Rock” and meet the artist, travel to the
               Board Members                            Henry A. Wallace country life center, tour a soy
          Tom Levis, West Des Moines                    candle shop and enjoy lunch in a historic hotel in
          Michelle McEnany, Urbandale                   downtown Greenfield.
          Tina Mowry-Hadden, Altoona
            Mike Smith, Des Moines                      Fee: $45; includes motorcoach transportation and
            Barry Vosler, Des Moines                    lunch. Departure from the Living History Farms
                                                        parking lot. Registration deadline is May 13.
Trips                                                 11
       Middle Raccoon Canoe Trip                                Mystery River Kayak Trip
          June , 8:00 a.m. - :00 p.m.                           June 1, 8:00 a.m. - :00 p.m.
Join us as we canoe down the Middle Raccoon            Which way we’ll flow, we just don’t know, but
River which is beautifully decorated with large        we’ll definitely float. The river will remain secret
boulders that were deposited by the last glacier.      until the morning of the trip. The only way you’ll
Naturalists will guide participants down the river.    find out where we’re going is to sign up. Natural-
Bring food and drink. Prior canoe experience is        ists will guide participants down the river. Bring
required.                                              food and drink. Prior kayak experience is required.

Fee: $25; includes transportation and canoes.          Fee: $35; includes transportation and kayaks.
Departure from Jester Park. Minimum age 10.            Departure from the Shoppers Supply parking lot
Registration deadline is May 28.                       on NE 14th St., north of I-80. Minimum age 16.
                                                       Registration deadline is June 4.
        White Water Rafting Trip
                     June 6-11                                  Boone River Canoe Trip
            Arkansas River, Colorado                             June 19, 8:00 a.m. - :00 p.m.
“Perhaps the most fun I’ve had as an adult” is how     Join us as we canoe down the Boone River.
a past participant described her experience. This      During the mid-1800’s, several mills were in
professionally guided trip will have you rafting for   operation along the river. The remains of a few
three days on the wild and scenic Arkansas River.      mills can still be seen today. We’ll set in the river
The third day will take you through the famous         at Albright’s Canoe Access and canoe 7.5 miles
Royal Gorge where the world’s highest suspension       downstream to the Tunnel Mill Access. Access
bridge spans the river over 1,000 ft. above. We will   points subject to change based on river conditions.
camp three nights with beautiful mountain scenery      Naturalists will guide participants down the river.
all around. No previous experience required.           Bring food and drink. Prior canoe experience is
Fee: $900; includes transportation, lodging, and
all expenses for rafting. Departure from Jester        Fee: $25; includes transportation and canoes.
Park. Participants must be 21 years or older, in       Departure from Jester Park. Minimum age 10.
good physical condition, and will need to provide      Registration deadline is June 11.
personal items, and money for meals while
traveling. Registration deadline is May 7.                  Hamilton County & Webster City
                                                                  Reviving, Reclaiming, Renewing
                                                                    June , 8:00 a.m. - :00 p.m.
                                                       Reward yourself with a refreshing day trip to see
                                                       the remarkable highlights of Hamilton County.
                                                       Creativity and renovation are the themes for the
                                                       day. Visit an artist who creates sculpture from
                                                       recycled scrap metal, a park that has been
                                                       reclaimed from a landfill, recycling of the wind
                                                       at a wind farm, restoration of a convertible car
                                                       collection, and more will fill the day. Check our
                                                       website at for the
                                                       cost and meeting location when details become
Paddling through the rapids on the Arkansas River      available.

                 To register for a trip, go to
Volunteer Opportunities                                                           (515) 323-5300 1
We want to begin the new year by highlighting some of our long-term volunteer opportunities, and
programs which include: Stewards and Co-Stewards, Trail Ambassadors and Adopt-A-Park Sponsors.
These volunteers operate under the guidelines of our Corps of Recovery Program, and are engaged in
nearly every park and hard surface trail (including the Sycamore Trail which is natural surface) in Polk
County. These volunteers receive necessary training and tools to perform their tasks, recruit their own
volunteers, plan their own workdays, work at their own pace and only complete duties they feel comfort-
able performing. They are involved in everything from removing invasive species, picking up litter and
monitoring trails to helping restore natural areas and collecting prairie seed. Next time you see someone
working on your favorite park or trail, take time to thank them! Additional positions are available.

Some of our yearly projects include trail clearing and maintenance, therapeutic riding program
assistants, helping with pony rides, cleaning stalls, park and shoreline clean-ups, harvesting prairie
seeds, invasive species removal, planting trees, cleaning out fire rings, playground maintenance,
mulching trees, rain garden plant installation, river clean-up and several annual special events. If any of
these activities sound like something you would like to take part in, please contact Pat Spain at
(515) 323-5280, or

             Save the Date!
           Invasive Species Workday
 January 16, 10:00 a.m. - Noon (meet at 9:45 a.m.)
               Jester Park Shelter #5
Your help is needed to help us restore our wood-
lands by removing honeysuckle and other inva-
sives. Please meet at the entrance to Jester Park at
9:45 a.m. Dress according to weather, wear sturdy
boots/hikers and bring gloves. Light refreshments
will be served. Tools will be supplied.
                                                       Eagle Scout Steven Lomen standing by a mammoth
       Volunteer Appreciation Banquet                  pile of invasives his troop removed.
             March 7, 5:00 – 7:30 p.m.
Come join us at the Jester Park Lodge where we
will highlight some of our volunteer projects and
events from ‘09. Anyone who has volunteered 10
hours (or more) is invited to attend. Please contact
Pat Spain to confirm your hours.

           Brown’s Woods Clean-up
             April 17, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Families, youth groups and scouting organiza-
tions welcome! Lunch will be provided by The
Huntmaster’s Club following the event. Meet at
the parking lot off Brown’s Woods Dr. Please
contact Pat Spain to confirm your attendance           Luke Bubeck Johnston High school student
which will ensure adequate lunch counts.               chipping trails.
Watch for the next Nature News issue for some great volunteer opportunities and events coming up this
year for all ages and abilities to get out and get involved in the great outdoors!
Polk County Conservation Areas                                                  1

 1.   High Trestle Trail            10.   Four Mile Creek Greenbelt
1.    Ankeny to Woodward Trail                  10.     Four Mile Creek Greenbelt
 2.   Beaver Creek Greenbelt        11.   Gay Lea Wilson Trail
2.    Beaver Creek Greenbelt                    11.     Gay Lea Wilson Trail
 3.   Brown’s Woods                 12.   Great Western Trail
3.    Brown’s Woods                             12.     Great Western Trail
 4.   Carney Marsh                  13.   Jester Park
4.    Carney Marsh                              13.     Jester Park
 5.   Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt   14.   Mally’s Weh Weh Neh Kee Park
5.    Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt               14.     Mally’s Weh Weh Neh Kee Park
 6.   Chichaqua Valley Trail        15.   Sycamore Trail
6.    Chichaqua Valley Trail                    15.     Sycamore Trail
 7.   Easter Lake Park              16.   Thomas Mitchell Park
7.    Easter Lake Park                          16.     Thomas Mitchell Park
 8.   Engeldinger Marsh             17.   Trestle to Trestle Trail
8.    Engeldinger Marsh                         17.     Trestle to Trestle Trail
 9.   Fort Des Moines Park          18.   Yellow Banks Park
9.    Fort Des Moines Park                      18.     Yellow Banks Park
010 Nature Programs and Trips                                                                       1
Date          Time         Activity (*pre-registration required)   Location
January 5     11:00 a.m.   O.W.L.S. - Butterflies                  Jester Park Lodge
January 5     7:00 p.m.    Fly-Tying*                              Jester Park Lodge
January 9     Noon         Ice Fishing                             Jester Park
January 9     1:00 p.m.    Hike Polk County                        Easter Lake Park
January 16    10:00 a.m.   Invasive Species Workday                Jester Park
January 23    10:00 a.m.   Cross-Country Skiing*                   Raccoon River Park
January 29    6:30 p.m.    Owl Prowl                               Jester Park
January 30    10:00 a.m.   Snowshoe Hike*                          Fort Des Moines Park
January 30    Noon         Ice Fishing                             Fort Des Moines Park

February 2    11:00 a.m.   O.W.L.S - Neal Smith NWR                Jester Park Lodge
February 2    6:30 p.m.    Hog Wild                                Jester Park Lodge
February 6    10:00 a.m.   Cross-Country Skiing*                   Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
February 7    2:00 p.m.    Snowshoe Hike*                          Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
February 13   10:30 a.m.   Tricky Tracks                           Jester Park Lodge
February 13   1:00 p.m.    Birds of Iowa                           Jester Park Lodge
February 20   1:00 p.m.    Hike Polk County                        Brown’s Woods
February 21   Noon         Bald Eagle Watch                        Jester Park Lodge
February 21   1:00 p.m.    Ice Fishing                             Easter Lake Park

March 2       11:00 a.m.   O.W.L.S. - Arctic NWR                   Jester Park Lodge
March 2       6:30 p.m.    Create a Backyard Habitat*              Jester Park Lodge
March 2       6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
March 16      7:30 p.m.    Wild Night Life and Hike                Jester Park
March 17      1:00 p.m.    Hike Polk County                        Fort Des Moines Park
March 18      10:00 a.m.   Nature’s Stories, Songs & More          West Des Moines Library
March 19      7:30 p.m.    Stargazing                              Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
March 23      6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
March 27      10:00 a.m.   Rain Barrel Workshop*                   Easter Lake Park
March 28      1:30 p.m.    Geocaching Hike                         Fort Des Moines Park

April 3       8:00 a.m.    Run for the Egg*                        Easter Lake Park
April 6       11:00 a.m.   O.W.L.S. - Family Legacies              Jester Park Lodge
April 6       6:30 p.m.    Growing Healthy Vegetables*             Jester Park Lodge
April 6       6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Jester ParkLodge
April 17      9:00 a.m.    Brown’s Woods Clean-up                  Brown’s Woods
April 17      10:00 a.m.   Hike Polk County                        Yellow Banks Park
April 19      6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Pearson Park
April 22      TBA          Tree Planting                           TBA
April 23-24                Prairie Chicken Viewing                 Mt. Ayr, Iowa

May 1         1:00 p.m.    Hike Polk County                        Thomas Mitchell Park
May 3         6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Peony Park, West Des Moines
May 4         11:00 a.m.   O.W.L.S. - Saylorville Lake             Jester Park Lodge
May 4         6:30 p.m.    Woodland Wildflowers                    Jester Park Lodge
May 8         10:00 a.m.   Bike Ride                               Trestle to Trestle Trail
May 14        8:00 p.m.    Catch-n-Croakers                        Chichaqua Longhouse
May 18        6:30 p.m.    Nature Friends*                         Fort Des Moines Park
May 21        8:30 p.m.    Wild Night Life and Hike                Jester Park, Camp Area 5
May 22        10:00 a.m.   Canoe Basics*                           Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
May 22        1:00 p.m.    Kayak Basics*                           Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt
May 25        8:00 a.m.    Wind, Rock, & Fire Bus Tour*            Adair County, Iowa
            Jester Park Equestrian Center 010 Calendar
Jan. 16-17 - Paws & Effect Agility Dog Show                     Sweetheart Sleigh Rides
Jan. 23 - Horsemanship Clinic Series -                    Offered every day from February 7-17
     Conformation (details TBA - watch website)    Enjoy a beautiful winter horse-drawn sleigh ride
Feb. 6 - IA Saddlebred Show                        with hot chocolate and a flower for the lady.
     (contact Deanne Mundt at 515-229-5722)        Sleighs accommodate up to four people. Rides
Feb. 27 - Horsemanship Clinic Series -             will take place without snow using a horse-drawn
  Form to Function (details TBA - watch website)   carriage. Reservations can be made by calling the
Mar. 6 - IA Saddlebred Show                        Jester Park Equestrian Center. Fee: $50.
     (contact Deanne Mundt at 515-229-5722)
Mar. 19-21 - DMOTC Agility Dog Show                                      Jester Park Equestrian Center
Mar. 26-28 - Kip Fladland Horsemanship Clinic                                11171 NW 103 Court
      (contact Joan Hopper at 515-450-9983)                                    Granger, IA 50109
                                                                                (515) 999-2818

The Great Outdoors Fund is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) foundation established to support conservation
 of natural resources, enhancement of outdoor recreation opportunities, wise land use, conservation
         education, protection of open spaces, and promotion of good environmental ethics.
 I pledge:                                               Polk County Conservation Projects funded in
        $1,000___             $50 ___                      part by the Great Outdoors Fund include:
                                                         Jester Park Natural Playscape, land acquistion
        $500 ___              $25 ___                   at Chichaqua, Ask the Naturalist radio program,
        $100 ___              Other___                  Equestrian Center scholarships for at risk youth,
                                                           rain garden construction, and much more.

 Name_________________________________Email Address___________________________


 Daytime Telephone_______________________

 Your tax deductible donation will be applied to The Great Outdoors Fund’s general fund unless
 specified otherwise.
                                       Donations also accepted
                                              on-line at

            Make checks payable to The Great Outdoors Fund and mail with this form to:
                                     P.O. Box 2, Granger, IA 50109
            If you have questions, please call Polk County Conservation at 515-323-5300.
 Polk County Conservation                                                            NONPROFIT ORG.
 11407 NW Jester Park Dr.                                                           U.S. POSTAGE PAID
 Granger, IA 50109                                                                    DES MOINES, IA
                                                                                     PERMIT NO. 2995

                                     CURRENT RESIDENT OR

                                    (Older, Wiser, Livelier, Seniors)
Looking for an excuse to get out of the house, make some new friends, enjoy a good meal and learn
about the exciting world of nature? Then join us! These programs are held the first Tuesday of each
month. The nature program will start at 11:00 a.m. at the Jester Park Lodge. An optional luncheon
follows the program at noon in which pre-registration is required. The cost of the catered lunch is $7.00
and pre-registration is required. To register for lunch go to

    Butterflies from around the World                        Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
                     January                                               March 
The Butterfly Wing Curator for Reiman Gardens,         Phyllis Mains’ passion for wildlife and wilderness
Nathan Brockman, will discuss an assortment of         has led her to encourage others in joining her to
butterfly species found in the Christina Reiman        protect America’s last remaining pristine wilder-
Butterfly Wing. Each year, roughly 15,000 pupae        ness in Alaska. She will share a DVD of her 2007
are shipped in from butterfly farmers and ranchers     backpacking adventure to Alaska. The presentation
from around the world. Nathan will cover some          will show the contrasts between the harsh tundra
of the unique species as well as the interesting       and the more lush Denali lowland. Luncheon
behaviors and traits associated with those species.    registration deadline is February 26.
Luncheon registration deadline is December 31.
                                                         Passing it On: Preserving your family
  Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge                        legacy for future generations
                     February                                               April 6
The Refuge was established in 1990. Its mission        Personal historian Larry Lehmer of When Words
is to re-construct tallgrass prairie and restore oak   Matter believes that saving a family’s history is
savanna on 8,654 acres of the Walnut Creek water-      within the grasp of anyone willing to commit to
shed and to provide a major environmental educa-       making it happen. Join us for a stimulating presen-
tion facility focusing on prairie, oak savanna, and    tation in which he discusses the importance and
human interaction. Join refuge manager Cheryl          value of saving one’s family history, the barriers
Groom as she talks about this fantastic reconstruc-    that keep us from achieving our family history
tion project. Luncheon registration deadline is        goals and some insights on how to overcome those
January 29.                                            barriers. Luncheon registration deadline is Apr. 2.

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