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JCCB Current Projects & Events

**Roadwork on County Road E45 may affect access to the Grant Wood Trail Section in Martelle from the end of August through the end of October.**

Please Note:  Central Park Lake is in the process of being drawn down/drained for lake restoration work during 2017.  Currently fishing is still possible from the earthen dam. 

Central Park Lake Draw Down Fall 2016
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Central Park Lake Restoration is in Full Swing


Central Park is a “buzz” these days with not only the flutter of bees busily gathering food for winter, but the many conversations of fishermen, campers, and hikers of the approaching lake restoration and access improvements.  

Many of you may have already seen the many orange dots popping up around the lake’s shoreline as the surveyors began their meticulous duty of plotting out the dips, hills, and slopes of the park.  These beginning steps mark the start of the project that will climax in a renovation some 51 years after the first dozer started pushing up soil to create Central Park Lake’s dam.  The creation of the dam back in 1965 was no small feat, as over 40,000 cubic yards of soil was required to build it.  It did its job to hold back water for all types of recreation including swimming, fishing, paddling, and wildlife observation.  However, it was also very efficient at holding back sediment and nutrients flowing into its waters from the watershed.  Sediment and nutrients can be a good thing as they provide the resources for aquatic organisms like fish and turtles to grow fast and populous.  But just like anything, too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing.

Over the years excess sediment and nutrients have built up in the lake bottom reducing the lake’s depth, smothering habitat, and fertilizing large growths of algae and bacteria.  As many of you have witnessed this can lead to an unpleasant looking lake and health advisories posted at the beach.  Luckily these issues have already started being addressed with previous work done to the watershed and now we can focus on the in-lake issues. 

To get things rolling, the lake is being prepped for draining the latter half of September.  Several of the fish are being relocated to the new west pond above the lake and to other ponds and lakes in the county and region.  Starting September 3rd – December 31st fishing regulations will be relaxed (see announcement below).  The next step is opening the gate at the bottom of the large concrete spillway pipe.  This will allow the vast majority of the lake’s water to flow downstream and uncover the lake’s bottom.  With the water removed the lake bed will begin to dry out to allow for further surveying.

Late next summer into fall and winter will come the heavy lifting.  This will include the removal of an estimated 125,000 cubic yards of sediment and associated excess nutrients.  As a note, 125,000 cubic yards is over 3 times the amount of soil currently in the dam.  That’s a lot of “dirt.”  It will be dug up, scraped, and hauled to the Pearson addition on the west end of the park.  Once there it will be leveled, stabilized, and planted to native plants. 


After the sediment is removed critical areas of the shoreline will be stabilized and fish habitat will be installed.  Fish habitat will include a diversity of structure, from rock reefs to tree piles and stake beds.  The goal is to provide habitat for all aquatic organisms to thrive.  Lastly native prairie plantings will be added to portions of the adjacent park hillsides to reduce runoff, add aesthetic appeal, and provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including those hungry bees mentioned earlier.

In addition next summer, while the lake bed is dry, access to the lake will be improved.  Improved access to the lake is critical for visitors of all abilities to maximize their outdoor experience at the lake.  This means providing infrastructure that allows visitors to get as close to the resource as they desire in a safe manner.  The first access improvement will involve the construction of a new fishing access.  This access is planned to include a hard surfaced parking lot and sidewalks connecting the parking area to shoreline fishing, a pier, and a day use picnic area.  Fishing access along the sidewalk will boast both deep water fishing near the dam and shallow water spawning habitat near the jetty. 

The second project includes renovation of the boat ramp and paddling access.  This project entails the reshaping of the parking lot to force runoff to enter a vegetated swale for filtering before entering the lake.  Once reshaped the lot will acquire hard surfacing and a handicap accessible parking area and walkway to the dock.  The dock and boat ramp will then be replaced to improve safety while loading and unloading people and equipment.

The third project involves the renovation of the beach and access components.  The goals are to add parking spaces on the beach side of the park road to allow safer direct access to the beach and reduce the need for children and visitors with disabilities to cross the busy road; add a handicap accessible sidewalk between the parking area and beach, paddling access, and sheltered picnic tables; install stairs for direct access to the beach; and decrease the beach slope to reduce erosion of sediment into the lake.

This project has been in the making for several years and has taken a team of concerned visitors, county officials, private companies, organizations, and partnering agency personnel to bring it to this point.  It will continue to take a “team” of groups and individuals to make it successful in the end.  


One of the last steps is filling the remaining funding gap.  Cost estimates developed from the above preliminary designs have reached $2,120,000.  Luckily, to date, contributions of over $1,701,100 have propelled the project to over 80% funded.  Acquired contributions have come from the Iowa DNR Lake Restoration and Fish Habitat programs, the Parks to People Grant Wood Loop, and the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association.  With the lake’s water being drained this month, it is critical to keep the momentum going.

Gifts and pledges at any level are important! 

Every donor will be recognized through the Jones County Conservation website, newsletter and grand opening event.  Donors giving $500 or more can choose to be included on a donor appreciation kiosk near the lake's edge. 

Those who give $75,000 have the privilege of choosing the name for the beach, fishing access, or boat ramp/paddling access. 

Gifts in honor or in memory of loved ones are welcome.  Major gifts may be pledged now to be paid over 1-3 years.



Sponsorship Levels:

Pike contributions of $75,000+

Walleye contributions of $50,000 - $74,999

Large Mouth Bass contributions of $25,000 - $49,999

Small Mouth Bass contributions of $10,000 - $24,999

Catfish contributions of $5,000 - $9,999

Crappie contributions of $1,000 - $4,999

Bluegill contributions of $500 - $999

If you wish to learn more about the project please contact us at 563-487-3541.  Donations can be mailed to Jones County Conservation, 12515 Central Park Road, Center Junction, IA 52212.


Fishing Regulations to be Relaxed at Central Park Lake


The Iowa Department of Natural Resources will relax fishing regulations at Central Park Lake in Jones County starting on September 3, to allow anglers to more freely harvest game fish before the lake is renovated this fall.

Anglers with a valid fishing license will be allowed to harvest fish of all species by hook and line from Central Park Lake only, the new seven acre pond on the west end of the park is not included in the relaxed regulations. Any number of fishing poles or jug fishing will be allowed. Anglers must remain in sight of these lines at all times, and follow all other fishing regulations and area rules.

Liberalized fishing regulations for Central Park Lake will be in effect from September 3rd, through December 31st, 2016. Specific regulation changes include:

 *   Removal of bag and length limit restrictions on largemouth bass.

 *   Removal of bag limit on channel catfish.

 *   Removal of bag limit on crappie and bluegill.

Nets, dynamite, trot lines, poison, electric shocking devices, or any stupefying substances will not be allowed. It is illegal to sell fish or stock captured fish into public waters. All navigation rules still apply. The normal park hours of 4:30 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. will remain in effect.


Central Park Lake is one of 35 priority lakes in the state selected for lake restoration work designed to improve water quality because of the potential economic return for the investment.  Poor water quality has impacted the fish population and affected all water based recreation at the lake.  Implementation water quality improvement practices in the watershed have been completed and more are underway. Public meetings during the past few years have explained various aspects of the project.


Bluegills, largemouth bass and channel catfish will be restocked following the renovation. Crappies and redear sunfish will be stocked when sufficient bass numbers are sampled.  It is very important that anglers never transport and release any fish species into any water system. All lake water from boats, live wells and bait buckets must be drained before you leave the boat ramp.


For more information, contact Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist Paul Sleeper at 319-624-3615 or the Jones County Conservation Board at 563-487-3541.

Iowa Hunter Education Courses:  For a current listing of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Hunter Education Courses please visit

What to do if you find injured wildlife:  (Information and links)

Central Park Lake Restoration Meeting

Well Attended

Fifty people filled the Nature Center basement to hear about the Central Park Lake Restoration Project.  Speakers included Brad Mormann, JCCB Director, George Antoniou, Lake Restoration Program Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and Paul Sleeper, Fisheries Biologist with the IDNR.  Restoration activities planned for the park were presented at the meeting and included removal of excess sediment from the lake, shoreline stabilization, and fish habitat and recreational access improvements.  Work is slated to begin fall 2016 and will be completed in the next 2-3 years.  If you would like to learn more about this project please call the JCCB Administrative office at (563)487-3541. 

"Central Park Lake Project On Channel 9 News"

Click on this link to read the article.



Recent Central Park Lake Watershed Restoration Work

Construction of a wetland and "west pond" on the south and west Pearson Addition required the total movement of over 29,000 cubic yards of soil, equivalent to 2,030 dump truck loads.  Both structures are now completed and filled with spring and summer rainfall.  Although building these structures took a lot of work, their benefits are tremendous.  Not only are they holding back hundreds of tons of sediment and hundreds of pounds of phosphorus from entering the main lake each year, they will be important habitat for a variety of fish and wildlife species. 

In particular, over two feet of sediment was removed from the west pond’s basin.  Several fishing jetties, earthen mounds of soil piled perpendicular to the pond’s shoreline, were installed  These jetties jut out into the pond to reach past shallow water and vegetation along the shoreline to improve fishing access.  They also increase shoreline diversity and length within the pond adding habitat for fish and other pond wildlife.

Fish habitat was placed in the pond basin, some of which will serve multiple purposes.  Rock was placed around the jetties to stabilize the soil in the jetties and provide structure for fish and macro-invertebrates on which they feed.  Trees removed from the south wetland and the area around the west pond’s dam construction site were also placed in the basin.  Trees provide important habitat for the critters fish eat and provide nooks and crannies for small fish to avoid predators.  With a concentration of smaller fish, such as bluegill, predatory fish, such as largemouth bass, are sure to be lurking nearby. 

In addition several catfish hotels and pallet structures were placed in the new pond.  Catfish hotels are made from placing 4 culverts in a “+” pattern while leaving a gap in the center.  The gap in the center is filled with rock which closes off the ends of the four culverts.  With the ends closed female catfish utilize the culverts to lay eggs and guard them from predators.  The rock also adds additional habitat.  Pallet structures mimic trees by providing a variety of habitat for panfish and others to congregate.  Fishing near any of these structures can improve fishing success and enjoyment.  

This past spring and summer prairie flower and grass seeds and cover crops were planted around the new pond and wetland and erosion control tubes were installed to help prevent erosion.   Several memorial benches were placed on jetties for future fishermen and native enthusiasts to enjoy and a new parking lot with memorial benches and signage is being added near the new west pond.  Stop by to see our progress!

Fish Transfer to New West Pond - August 2016
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This project would not be possible without great state and local partners.  The partnership began with George and Rose Pearson agreeing to sell their land to the Conservation Board.  Our local Natural Resources Conservation Service office and regional engineering office have been essential in developing engineering plans, marking onsite structures, and assisting with construction observation.  Funding has come from several partners including our local Twin River’s Pheasants Forever Chapter, the DNR Fish Habitat Program, the DNR Lake Restoration Fund, and the Iowa Watershed Improvement Fund administered by the Iowa Watershed Improvement Review Board with support from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation.


Restoration Project Background:  Central Park Lake has lost about 1/3 of its storage capacity during the last 51 years due to sedimentation.  Most of the sediments washed into the lake during the first 15 years after it was constructed.  Nutrients, such as phosphorus, also washed into the lake attached to the soil particles.  Runoff from development within the park and the outdated wastewater system has also added to problems in the nutrient rich lake.

Over time these inputs change a lake through processes called succession and eutrophication.  The bottom line is that recreational uses, such as fishing, swimming and boating all suffer due to reduced water quality.  In addition, stress is applied to the fish and animals that live in the lake, eventually resulting in fish kills during weather extremes in mid-summer and winter.  In 2011 and 2012, the lake has experienced minor fish kills in midsummer.  Young fish, ranging in size from about an inch to about 10”, are the main size of fish affected.


All lakes, natural and man-made, go through the process of succession as time passes, and eutrophication occurs when nutrient rich runoff enters a lake.  Many lakes in Iowa were constructed in the 1950’s and 60’s and are nearing the end of their recreational use lifespan.  Central Park Lake is one of them.  Most lakes in Iowa needed renovation within 20 years after construction, the fact that the lake made it 47 years is remarkable.  That tells us that if we manage the watershed prudently, our efforts will be successful.


The lake is currently listed as an “impaired” water in Iowa.  The listing as “impaired” is due to excess algae, bacteria and pH.  The pH impairment is directly due to high levels of algae which turn the water green in mid to late summer.  To reduce the amount of algae we must reduce the amount of nutrients in the lake.  The bacteria impairment is due to human use and other warm blooded animals.  The bacteria problem becomes more pronounced when the water is cloudy with high levels of algae as ultraviolet rays from the sun cannot penetrate the water column and break the bacteria down.

Grant Wood Mississippi River Region Parks to People Initiative Update: 

Work continues on the Grant Wood Mississippi River Region Parks to People Initiative.  For the past year a large group of stakeholders from Jones, Jackson and Dubuque Counties have been working together to develop a regional plan.  This plan strives to enhance the quality and accessibility of our parks, trails and natural resources.  It is amazing how well these stakeholders are working cooperatively to make our region a welcoming, enjoyable place for people to live, work and visit.

During this planning process many projects have floated to the top as possible high quality components of the regional plan.  Two of these potential projects are in Jones County.  One is aptly titled “Maquoketa on the Move.


The Maquoketa River is a major river system connecting all three counties in our region to form a massive water trail.  Water trails have been growing rapidly in popularity across the state.  Two aspects in need of addressing are the accessibility of water trails and the removal of barriers.  In recent years some accesses in the county have been greatly improved to allow recreational users to move to and from the water while insuring the scenic beauty and flood plain integrity remain intact.  As the recreational use of rivers continue to grow it will be important to maintain and add high quality accesses.  These accesses will allow users to experience new river adventures and spread the use over hundreds of miles.  


Removing barriers is another major step in improving recreational use of the Maquoketa River.  In particular, within the lower main stem of the river exists two large dams that impede recreational paddle craft and boat use, disconnect ecological aspects of the river, and are drowning machines for those who draw too near.  One of these, the Mon-Maq dam, is located in northern Jones County. 


Engineering is underway to remove or modify the dam to eliminate the safety hazard, improve recreational passage, and restore ecological qualities of the river.  This project will have far reaching benefits well beyond the dam site itself.  Recreational users will have more naturally flowing water on which to safely enjoy a family outing.  There will no longer be a need to watch for warning signs of the impeding dam or portage equipment and craft around the dam site.  In addition, access sites will be greatly improved to make utilization of the river easier.  Both recreational users and wild river inhabitants will have unobstructed use of a much larger section of the river.  This will open up the recolonization of many fish and other aquatic species that have been lost above the dam.  This will not only improve fish diversity throughout the river system but also the fishing diversity as more fishing holes will have the quality fish anglers’ desire. 


Since access to the river at the removed or modified Mon-Maq Dam site will undoubtedly change during and after project completion there will be a need to retrofit the existing access to maintain use and site quality.  Slightly downriver an additional 99 acre portion of land along the Maquoketa River will be obtained to stabilize and protect 1 mile of river bank and flood plain that is currently planted to row crops, add to a nearly 10.5 mile long wildlife corridor, and provide additional public access to the river for fishing, paddling, and hiking. 

All of these “wild” components of the project are tied to an adjacent community by the development of a downtown pocket park in Monticello.  This park, just like the river’s water, adjacent land and accesses, will draw the public in to relax and recreate. 


The second potential project in Jones County is “Crossing the Wapsi.”


The Hale Bridge is a historic landmark in Jones County.  Constructed in 1879 over the Wapsipinicon River to connect the Northern and Southern halves of Hale Township, the Hale Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.  Once no longer deemed worthy of vehicular traffic, the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission took the lead in its preservation and relocation to its current location within Wapsipinicon State Park.  In March of 2006, the bridge was moved by Iowa National Guard Chinook helicopters.  The relocation event was featured on the History Channel’s Mega Movers program.  It now provides an eastern connection from Wapsipinicon State Park to Shaw Road just east of Anamosa. Relocating the bridge was a challenge requiring extensive fundraising and work through volunteer efforts.


With the most difficult work done, the proposed Hale Bridge area improvements would help to complete the picture of the area as a destination for visitors and residents alike.  Connecting the bridge and park to the city of Anamosa via a one mile trail along Shaw Road will improve pedestrian and vehicle safety, while providing a recreational loop through the park and city.  With the large number of people utilizing the Hale Bridge, trail and park, an additional open air shelter and bathroom near the bridge will further increase the appeal of the area.   These improvements will give people a way to immerse themselves in nature and connect to the history of the community.


2016 Fall Colors Paddle
2016 Fall Colors Paddle
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This year participants paddled from Hwy 136 Access to Canton on the South Fork of the Maquoketa River.  Although the morning was drizzly wildlife was abundant.  Beaver, great blue heron, egret, wood ducks, Canada geese, killdeer, turkey vultures, and bald eagles were all spotted along the way.  The fall colors were just beginning to make their appearance.

2016 Conservation Awards

The Jones County Conservation Board and Jones County Soil and Water Conservation District Conservation Awards Dinner was held on Thursday, Sept. 22nd at the Central Park Nature Center.

The following individuals received Jones County Friends of Conservation Awards:

Wes Gibbs - Integrated Roadside Vegetation Manager - Jones County Secondary Roads Department:

Jim & Bridget Johnson - Anamosa Journal-Eureka:

Soil & Water Conservation District Awards:

Mary & Don Levsen of Olin Received the Izaak Walton League Windbreak Award:

Nathan Becker - Kindergarten Teacher at Midland Elementary Received the Conservation Teacher of the Year Award.:

Sara Carver was a regional Soil and Water Conservation District Poster Contest winner for grades 10-12:

Ryan Zasadny was a regional Soil and Water Conservation District Poster Contest winner for grades 7-9:

Central Park Lake Meeting Well Attended

George Antoniou, Lake Restoration Program Coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Brad Mormann, Jones County Conservation Director, and Paul Sleeper, Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologist, each gave presentations on the Central park Lake Restoration Project.

Some Fish Moved from Central Park Lake to Central Parks West Pond Prior to Lake Draining and Dredging

JCCB Staff assisted Iowa DNR Fisheries Biologists in moving some of the lakes largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish to the new west pond at Central Park.

Jones County Conservation Environmental Education Program Receives Iowa Ornithology Union Grant

The Jones County Conservation Environmental Education Program received a $500 Iowa Ornithology Union Grant to purchase binoculars and bird field guides for educational programming.  Thank you IOU!!!   Keep an eye on our future birding programs and hikes and come learn about our amazing birds! Request a bird program for your group - call Michele at (319)481-7987.

"Spirit of Chautauqua" Concert Fun!

Around 50 people came to listen - others were entertained as they fished or hiked the trails  while Will Schmitt performed from 6-7 PM near the enclosed pavilion at Central Park on Tuesday, June 28th.   Will shared the songs and stories he has picked during his travels throughout the United States.  Will’s tour of Iowa will take him to almost half of Iowa’s 99 counties as he works his way across the state this summer.  For more information on Will’s touring schedule go to 

2016 Kids Fishing Derby Results
and Pictures

2016 Central Park Kids Fishing Derby Fun
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          Sixty-seven registered children as well as parents, grandparents, and siblings enjoyed a beautiful morning at the 2016 Central Park Kids Fishing Derby held on Saturday, June 4th.  Those attending had an exciting time fishing, participating in the Wapsi Valley Bassmasters Casting Contest, creating chalk sidewalk art fish, and enjoying a relaxing day at the lake.  With thanks to the many local businesses and individuals who donated and supported this derby every child participating received a door prize and handouts.  Winners received trophies and select prizes.

This year’s derby winners of the “Longest Fish Contest” were 1st place:  Benjamyn Watson of Anamosa, 2nd place:  Reeve Graver of Scotch Grove, and 3rd place: Mitchell Neiers of Monticello. 

Winners of the “Largest Bluegill Contest” were 1st place:  Roth Schnoor of Monticello, 2nd place:   Leah Neiers of Manchester, and 3rd place: Ryan Tjaden of Anamosa. 

In addition four children won the Wapsi Valley Bassmasters Kids Casting Competition.  Prizes were awarded to two winners in each of the 7-10 and 11 – 14 year old age divisions.  In the 7-10 age division Benjamyn Watson of Anamosa took first place and Justin Pry of Cascade took second.  In the 11-14 year old division Chayse Sams of Anamosa won first place and Naamah Barkley of Anamosa took second place.

A huge thank you to the following individuals, businesses, and local organizations for their support and assistance: Wapsi Valley Bassmasters, Stick’um Tackle Co, Front Range Gear, Bait, Guns, & More, Anamosa Theisen’s, the Cone Shoppe, Happy Joe’s Pizza, Anamosa McDonalds, Scheels Sporting Goods, Dave and Ginger Eilers, Marcus Prull, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. 

Congratulations to everyone who attended this year’s Central Park Kids Fishing Derby!  We hope to see you again next year!

2016 Jones County Nature Photography Contest Winners Announced:

1st Place Winners of 2016 Jones County Nature Photo Contest
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Winners from the 2016 Jones County Nature Photography Contest are as follows:

“Plants in Nature”:  1st Place – Kerri Dusanek, Monticello; 2nd Place – Derith Vogt, Center Junction; 3rd Place – Derith Vogt, Center Junction.

“Scenic Jones County”:  1st Place  - Jonathen Mayberry, Anamosa;  2nd Place – Susanne Gubauc, Tipton; 3rd Place – Gwendolyn Hanson, Anamosa. 

“Animals in Nature”:  1st Place – Gwendolyn Hanson, Anamosa; 2nd Place – Heather Weers, Center Junction; 3rd Place – Derith Vogt, Center Junction.  

“People in Nature”:  1st Place:  Brenda Hanken, Monticello; 2nd Place – Kerri Dusanek, Monticello; 3rd Place:  Kerby Barnes, Center Junction.

Congratulations to all of the winners and participants of the 2016 Jones County Nature Photography Contest!              Keep taking those great outdoor photos!!!

April 30th Tree Planting Pics
Jones County Courthouse Trees Forever and Alliant Energy "Branching Out" Grant
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2016 Earth Day Fair A Success
2016 Earth Day Fair
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Another wonderful Earth Day Fair was held at the Lawrence Community Center in Anamosa!  Participants were able to view over 35 Earth Day booths and vendor tables, learn about the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge "People to Pollinator" Program, try their aim at the 4-H Shooting Sports Air Rifle Trailer, enjoy a presentation by Dawn Leon on the "Magic of Monarchs", learn some new tips and tricks for spring gardening from Kim MIller, ISU Extension Master Gardener, and be entertained by the Mike Lasack Band, while enjoying a delicious pancake fundraiser breakfast put on by the Grant Wood Trail Association.  In addition, the SWCD 2016 poster contest winners and scholarship winner were announced.  The Earth Day Fair was sponsored by the Jones County Conservation Board, Jones Soil and Water Conservation District, and Grant Wood Trail Association.  Thanks to all the volunteers, organizations, and people who made this year’s Earth Day Fair a success.

Mon-Maq Dam Modification/Removal Public Input Meeting Held Jan 28

Jones County Conservation held a public meeting on Thursday, January 28th discussing the Mon-Maq Dam Modification/Removal Project.  Discussion included a shift in the project toward river restoration with an emphasis on reducing the number of structures and long term maintenance requirements.  All of which has the potential to increase recreation and fishing opportunities while restoring the Maquoketa River’s health.  For more information or to voice your opinions and concerns call Jones County Director, Brad Mormann at 563-487-3541, ext. 2.