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Water Trails - Walnut Creek Meeting

The MPO has been working on the preparation of a water trails plan for the greater Des Moines metro area.  To date, they have completed the background work and are now looking to discuss specific opportunities for each waterway within the study area.  As you will see below, they will be hosting a community workshop to discuss opportunities along Walnut Creek later this month. 

Your attendance at the interactive planning workshops focused on the areas in and along our community’s creeks and rivers would be appreciated. The DNR has partnered with the Des Moines Area MPO to develop the state’s first region-wide master plan for water trails in Greater Des Moines. Once developed, the plan will provide the region and local governments with a road-map for enhancing citizen experiences in and along the 150 miles of creeks and rivers. This could include more places to go tubing, birding, hiking, paddling, fishing, etc. as well as offer areas for flood protection and improved wildlife. This is a significant opportunity for the region for many reasons- notably quality of life, but also economic development, tourism and environmental conservation- and it is important that the city be represented at the workshop through participation of elected official, board members, and staff. You may not know anything about river recreation but you do know of future projects and other interests that may align with enhancing the quality of life here by drawing citizens and tourists to our creek and river.

The MPO recently published the State of the Rivers report (see below). Now that there is some sense of the existing conditions of the waterways in the region, it is time to start to put pen to map. Please plan on attending the following planning workshops:

                                                 Walnut Creek                                                  

March 31, 6:00 - 7:30

Windsor Heights Community Center

6900 School Street, Windsor Heights

Water trails are today where bike trails were 20 years ago – a great idea with great potential if we get enough of the right people behind it pushing in the same direction. Please join us.

 New ‘State of the Rivers’ Report:

Great potential for river recreation in region

The potential for river recreation in Greater Des Moines is significant and largely untapped, a new report finds.

That is a central takeaway from “State of the Rivers,” a new online resource that is rich with research on 150 miles of creeks and rivers in central Iowa. The report documents the current conditions of the metro waterways – identifying existing uses, opportunities, and challenges – as part of a larger effort to develop a Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Plan.

“We’ll never have mountains or oceans in central Iowa, but we have an abundance of rivers that we should be embracing as a region,” said Rick Tollakson, the president and CEO of Hubbell Realty Co. who is chairing the Water Trails Steering Committee. “If we come up with an ambitious but achievable plan, our rivers can become a signature recreational amenity for Greater Des Moines. The question now is, what is our vision?” 

The public is invited to share their ideas on the newly opened Water Trails Input Map, an interactive online mapping tool that lets visitors sketch out their concepts for natural-area preservation and recreational development in and along the rivers and creeks of Greater Des Moines. The Water Trails Input Map is available at and will remain open through Wednesday, March 30, 2016.

The Water Trails and Greenways Plan is being developed by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization on behalf of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. The plan covers the Des Moines, Raccoon, South Skunk, North and Middle rivers, as well as Beaver, Four Mile, Mud and Walnut creeks. A draft plan will be released for public comment in early summer of 2016; the final plan is expected by late 2016.

Major takeaways from the “State of the Rivers” report include:

Access – Today people have limited access to the rivers and creeks of Greater Des Moines. Expanding the number of access points – such as boat launches, equipment rentals, and information about recreational opportunities – would give people more options to explore rivers in more ways.

Water quality – The region’s rivers and creeks are polluted to varying degrees, and they are “flashy” due to excessive storm-water run-off during rainstorms. Improving water quality and stability will attract more people to the rivers.

Safety – Threats to the safety of users – whether mild or severe, real or perceived – can act as a deterrent to users. Encouraging a culture of water safety through user education, accurate information on current conditions, and options for safe recreational experiences will be critical to expanding river recreation.

Greenways Habitat – The rivers act as corridors of natural habitat throughout the region. Conserving these natural corridors would add to the diversity of wildlife and the health of the rivers.

Passionate People – Many people in the community – from current users to business leaders – have engaged in this planning process and have great enthusiasm for improving the region’s waterways.

For more information, please visit to, call 515-334-0075 or email


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