Reconnecting the Rivers

Urban Gems

The river corridors in Polk County are a popular outdoors recreation destination. Everyone views them differently. For some, they are a bike path. For others, the river is a place to fish. For others, the river corridors are a place to view wildlife and hike or mountain bike on unpaved trails in a wild setting. Others like to row a scull or dip a paddle. The metropolitan area is fortunate in that most of the river banks are in public ownership, with large tracts of river-bottom greenbelt. Since 2002 Iowa Whitewater Coalition and its partners advocate "polishing the jewel" to ensure recognition of the Des Moines and Raccoon river corridors as a recreational destination, and to create a world-class whitewater course in downtown Des Moines.

That vision has been advanced with tremendous work by the Iowa DNR, the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and many concerned citizens and stake holders. The was adopted by unanimous vote of the MPO Policy Committee in November 2016. The water trails plan provides the region a road-map for enhancing citizen experiences in and along the 150 miles of waterways in Greater Des Moines.

Re-greening Blighted Areas

Plantings of native trees, shrubs, and grasses will have numerous positive effects:

Creating Top-notch Water Trails

Creating highly accessible water trails will promote river recreation.

Retrofitting Low-head Dams Into Rapids

In 2005 Iowa Whitewater Coalition proposed that Iowa should begin the movement to literally reconnect rivers - right here in Polk County.