Lower Raccoon River Corridor
Directions: Extends from nearly I35 to downtown Des Moines on one side of the river or the other. Gray's Lake and the primary section of the Des Moines Waterworks are accessed just south of the downtown area on either side of Fleur Drive. Ashworth and Greenwood city parks are south of Grand Avenue to the west of downtown as are some northern pieces of the Des Moines Waterworks property. Moving to the west, Brown's Woods is accessed from the south side of the river just to the west of 63rd Street in West Des Moines on Brown's Woods Drive. Walnut Woods State Park is a few miles west of here or may be reached by taking the 35th Street exit on the Highway 5 bypass south of the city and following the signs. Raccoon River Park lies to the north or Walnut Woods and is accessed from Grand Avenue in West Des Moines nearly out to Interstate 35.
Description: This area is comprised of state, county, and city properties to create a seven+ mile long contiguous corridor of over 3000 acres of public lands along the lower reaches of the Raccoon River. The area includes riparian and river bottom forests, uplands, and old quarries. While the old quarries found at Gray's Lake and Raccoon River Park provide stop overs for some concentrations of migrating waterfowl, the bottom-land forests provide a significant stretch of nesting habitat for IBA criteria species as well as other species less common in Central Iowa. Bald Eagles nest along this stretch of river as do Broad-winged and Red-shouldered Hawks and Pileated Woodpeckers. Kentucky and Hooded Warblers are recorded regularly in the deep woods, particularly at Brown's Woods. The most reliable place to see Mississippi Kite in recent years has been at Greenwood and Ashworth Parks and they are certainly nesting somewhere in the river bottom forest.
The corridor is comprised of the following public properties:
Walnut Woods State Park - Iowa DNR - 260 acres
Raccoon River Park - City of West Des Moines - 632 acres
Brown's Woods Preserve - Polk County Conservation - 484 acres
Greenwood Park - City of Des Moines - 80 acres
Ashworth Park - City of Des Moines - 55 acres
Waterworks Park - Des Moines Waterworks - 1500 acres
Gray's Lake Park - City of Des Moines - 167 acres
Criteria for this site
Significant species concentrations
High conservation priority
Habitats found in this site