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Des Moines Plans a Recreational Riverfront

DES MOINES, Iowa — The city plans to make big changes to the Des Moines riverfront making it a hot spot for recreational water sports. Construction would create white water rapids and kayaking on the river, and the project would even include a zip-line.

There are more than 60 projects in total along 150 miles of the river, but when it comes to Des Moines, the city is looking at three main projects, the three big dams around the city. And each dam would be a different experience. The Center Street dam expects to be a high energy adventure with white water rafting and wave surfing.

The city called the Fleur dam experience “learn and play” this is where you can float calmly in your tube or kayak. And the Scott Street dam is an area where you can connect with nature and wade in the water or go fishing.

Creating a recreational waterfront in Des Moines aids in the city’s mission to encourage people to visit Iowa to boost the local economy.

There are many community leaders working on this project, including the Hubbel Realty Company. The President and CEO of Hubbel Realty Rick Tollakson said, “The state of Iowa could really be an attraction to a lot of people who are interested in water activities because one thing Iowa has is a lot of rivers.”

The Iowa DNR said the changes will increase safety on the Des Moines river and its dams. The Iowa DNR said there have been 16 recorded deaths in the Des Moines River dams.

Iowa DNR River Programs Coordinator, Nate Hoogeveen said addressing the core safety concerns of the dams is the only way we can bring more recreation to the rivers and Des Moines. Hoogeveen said, “This project addresses that by making sure that none of the features of drops plunge straight down and create this recirculating flow.”

There are more that 35,000 people with fishing licenses in Polk County. Even with the construction on the river, the DNR said fisheries would improve. “We are going to increase the fish's abilities to move up and down the rivers so they will have access to anything from Walnut Creek to the upper parts of the Raccoon River that they currently don’t have right now,” Hoogeveen said.

Construction on the Des Moines riverfront will not take place for another five years. Engineers and contractors are working to create plans on how this can be completed with safety in mind for both people and the wildlife. Those plans should be released in the next 60 days.