boys walking on a path near a stream

Water Trails Appendix

A great amount of community feedback and research went into of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Plan. This information is retained here as an appendix for research and reference.

State of the Rivers Report

The State of the Rivers Report is the culmination of months of research and represents the most comprehensive exploration to date of the current conditions of 150 miles of rivers and creeks throughout Greater Des Moines. The online report of “story maps” was developed by Des Moines Area MPO as part of the Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Plan.


1. Executive Summary
2. Regional Context
3. Des Moines River – Northern Section
4. Des Moines River – Downtown Section
5. Des Moines River – Southern Section
6. Raccoon River
7. South Skunk River
8. North and Middle Rivers
9. Beaver Creek
10. Fourmile, Mud, and Walnut Creeks
11. Issues, Opportunities, and Recommendations

Wildlife Reports by Jim Pease

Dr. Jim Pease paddled nearly 150 miles of waterways in Greater Des Moines, documenting his findings on plants and animals that inhabit these urban streams. Jim Pease, Ph.D., is associate professor emeritus in the Natural Resource Ecology and Management department of Iowa State University. His findings are below.

Raccoon River
Walnut and Beaver Creeks
Des Moines River
Middle River
North River
South Skunk River and Chichaqua Bottoms
Wildlife presentation

The Dam Debate I Results

The public clearly expressed a desire to explore the mitigation of the dams in downtown Des Moines to allow greater access and activity, as long as the pool of water upstream could be maintained at low-flow levels with the flash-boards installed. This is shown in the results of The Dam Debate I, held in April with The Des Moines Register, in combination with an online survey. Those results are posted below for the public review.

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The Dam Debate II

The Dam Debate II on June 28 followed up on the first Dam Debate, presenting the public with a refined concept based on feedback from the first event, online survey and other public-engagement events.

The revised concept, recommended in the draft plan, calls for the Des Moines River in downtown Des Moines to become a signature recreational destination for the region – with beaches amid naturally restored riverbanks, more fishing areas with improved habitat, calm-water and whitewater channels for beginner and expert-level paddling and tubing. This would require the Center Street and Scott Street dams to be mitigated. The dams would be replaced with a series of drops, spaced out over approximately one mile, which would maintain the water level north of the Center Street dam at current levels to preserve boating and rowing upstream. 

Women of Achievement Bridge
Two Rivers_Final Concept_update
Confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers

Water Trails Presentations

Presentations on the recently released draft Greater Des Moines Water Trails and Greenways Plan are being made to community and elected leaders around the region. Below, copies of the presentations are provided for reference and review. More information on future presentations is available here.

General Presentation

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Video Presentation

The presentation to the Des Moines Parks and Recreation Board was recorded by the City of Des Moines.

Click here to play the video

City-Specific Presentations

Des Moines Council Workshop
Des Moines Parks and Recreation Board
Pleasant Hill
Van Meter
West Des Moines
Windsor Heights

Additional Resources