Camp Creek Stream Bank Restoration
Thomas Mitchell Park is a popular destination in northeastern Polk County, receiving approximately 200,000 visits per year. The park is owned and maintained by the Polk County Conservation Board (PCCB). One of the park’s most unique features is Camp Creek, which bisects the park from north-to-south. The stream flows clear at normal levels and has many riffles that provide a peaceful and contemplative environment for campers and nature lovers. The stream is also an important educational resource, as school groups commonly visit the park to learn about aquatic life.
Due to its location in an agricultural setting, Camp Creek had suffered extensive bank erosion in recent years. Erosion diminished the stream’s beauty and public recreational value. Stream bank erosion was also a major water quality concern, since in-channel erosion is a chief source of turbidity and siltation. The project addressed erosion along nearly 1,000 feet of stream bank using bio-engineered methods. Limestone hardscapes were also incorporated into the stream banks at select locations, using limestone quarried in Iowa. These hardscape features direct public access to controlled locations, thus protecting native grasses from further erosion.
Additionally, the project established a safer and more reliable crossing of Camp Creek. Previously, only a single-lane, low-water crossing was available. Consequently, the east and west portions of the park were commonly divided, forcing park visitors onto adjacent county highways as they traveled from one side of the park to the other. With the new crossing, visitors can safely walk, cycle or drive throughout the park under all but flood conditions. The crossing culvert was recessed into the stream bottom to provide a more seamless environment for aquatic organisms.