Improvements Lead People Outdoors at Forest Preserve

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Fall colors are starting to pop in central Iowa, and the best viewing time will be in just about a week. You can check out the changing colors in one of the metro's hidden gems, and new features could help you enjoy nature throughout the year.

You never know what you will find, if you keep your eyes and ears open while walking through the Brown’s Woods Forest Preserve. Polk County Conservation Environmental Education Coordinator Patrice Petersen-Keys said, "It's got great diversity of wildlife. We have all kinds of trees for people to come out and of course with that, great habitat. We've got lots of great wildlife as well."

The Brown's Woods Forest Preserve is 484 acres of woodland located in West Des Moines. Petersen-Keys said, "It is so close to the urban area, and it doesn't feel like we're in the urban area, so it kind of allows people to unplug, maybe at lunch time, something like that."

Polk County Conservation partnered with the city of West Des Moines and Polk County Public Works to make improvements to Brown's Woods so more people can access the forest preserve. You’ll now find a new parking lot with improved lighting and modern restrooms with drinking fountains to open in the spring.

Improvements also include more trails. Petersen-Keys said, "There's now four miles of trail mileage, we've doubled them. And, so some of those trails are accessible, so allowing people of all abilities to be able to get out and explore as well."

You can check out the new features at the grand re-opening Wednesday, October 7 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Festivities include guided educational hikes, geocaching and hot dogs and drinks while supplies last. Funds from the Polk County Water and Land Legacy Bond paid for the improvements.