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DES MOINES, Iowa - A celebration of a decade of restoration efforts at Easter Lake will take place Sunday, June 23rd, from 1-5 pm at the Easter Lake Park Beach, located at 2883 East Watrous Avenue in Des Moines. A grand opening of the Mark C. Ackelson trail will also take place at the event.
A grand opening ceremony and ribbon cutting will be held at 1:30 pm to officially open the newly created 4.2 mile Mark C. Ackelson trail that circles Easter Lake, with an inaugural bike ride, led by Ackelson, at 2 pm.
The event is free to the public and will feature a variety of environmental and recreational family-friendly activities including: pontoon boat rides, canoeing, fish identification, pole casting, water quality testing and information, native plant giveaways, seed ball making, and insect and scavenger hunts. Free water and ice cream sandwiches will be provided, courtesy of UnityPoint Health and Hy-Vee.
Biking to the celebration is encouraged, with a complementary bike valet station being provided by the Street Collective of Greater DSM.
The celebration will also highlight many of the lake and watershed restoration efforts that have worked to improve water quality in Easter Lake.
Project partners began meeting in 2008 to develop and execute a comprehensive restoration strategy at the park. Together, they developed a watershed management plan in 2011 and began working with the Easter Lake watershed in 2013 to reduce nutrient and sediment pollution to the lake by 40%. Prior to restoration, Easter Lake was plagued with poor water quality and had lost 30% of its total volume to sedimentation from the watershed.
Together, project partners have installed over 200 conservation practices to improve water quality in the lake. Additionally, restoration efforts in the lake worked to reduce sediment re-suspension and improve overall water quality and aquatic habitat. Restoration efforts included removing over 400,000 CY of sediment from the lake, stabilizing over 22,000 feet of shoreline, installing over 130 fish habitat structures, modifying the lake’s outlet structure, and installing and in-lake sediment basin to trap additional sediment from the watershed. The gate valve was closed over the winter, and the lake re-filled in March of 2019. Fish stocking is already underway, and the fishery will continue to develop over the next several years.
The total investment is $23 million for watershed and in-lake restoration efforts, including the construction of the trail. Project partners include: Polk County Conservation Board, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District, National Resource Conservation Service, and the City of Des Moines.