Improving Water Quality by...

Bringing Volunteers and Positive Change to Easter Lake

Trash Bash

What is the Trash Bash?

Since 2008, the City of Des Moines has been leading Earth Day Trash Bash which is now Iowa’s largest Earth Day volunteer event. Today the event focuses on engaging citizens and businesses in volunteer projects throughout the Des Moines metro area and has grown to be a collaboration between the Cities & citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Norwalk, Pleasant Hill, Johnston, Urbandale, Polk County Conservation, Polk Soil & Water Conservation District, West Side Chamber of Commerce, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Ingersoll Business Committee, Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens and Water Works.

Positive Change for Easter Lake

Within the Easter Lake Watershed more than 1000 volunteers have participated as groups of friends and co-workers from multiple businesses including Principal, Wells Fargo, Blank Park Zoo, The Des Moines Register, Corteva, Green Iowa AmeriCorps, Iowa Conservation Corps, and others. With their help, we have targeted over 50 acres of invasive species, cleaned trash in Easter Lake and Ewing Parks, and removed trash along major roadways and in Yeader Creek.

The Easter Lake Watershed Project officially began in July 2013 and has participated in Earth Day Trash Bash every year since 2014. Check out what we have accomplished each year!

– In 2019, Trash Bash engaged 93 volunteer teams at 75 project locations removing litter, clearing invasive species, and more. In total, volunteers removed almost 45,000 pounds of trash, recyclables, tires, metal and brush. Almost 12 pounds of cigarette butts were cleaned up and more than 9,572 plastic bags were recycled. More than 10 miles of trail were cleaned, 7.5 acres of invasive species were removed, and much more.


For the sixth year of Trash Bash, volunteers were able to see Easter Lake full of water for the first time in 2 years and make a complete loop around the lake on the newly completed Mark C. Ackelson Trail. Volunteers worked on removing invasive species, cleaned up trash from along the shoreline, beach, trail, and other areas in Easter Lake Park. In Ewing Park, volunteers worked on trash removal and other park maintenance projects. In total nearly 265 volunteers participated in Easter Lake and Ewing Parks!


In 2018, nearly 300 volunteers guided by City of Des Moines, Polk County Conservation, and watershed project staff, helped pick up trash in Ewing and Easter Lake Parks along dirt trails and in Yeader Creek. More than 30 tires were removed from the creek and along dirt trails in Ewing Park.

Green Iowa AmeriCorps and Conservation Corps have been great partners helping to remove invasive species throughout the year at Easter Lake Park. This year at Trash Bash they helped in record numbers providing trained staff to help lead our volunteers.


In 2017, Easter Lake was completely emptied creating a unique opportunity to remove trash and tires from the lake bed. In total, 175 volunteers cleared invasive species from 5 acres in Easter Lake Park, picked up trash around the park and removed more than 150 tires from the lake bed! Removing these tires was hard work. Thankfully our volunteers received one of Trash Bash’s annual awards for their expert tire removing skills!

Each year volunteers from the Blank Park Zoo join us at Easter Lake Park and help remove invasive species. As a bonus, honeysuckle that is removed from the park is loaded up in their trucks and is used to give their animals a tasty treat!


2016 marked the largest volunteer participation to date. Around 250 volunteers helped pick up trash and removed invasive species from Easter Lake Park focusing on areas near shelter three in the park. Volunteers were led by staff members from Polk County Conservation and the Polk Soil & Water Conservation District.


For our second year, volunteer participation more than tripled. Working with Polk County Conservation, 50 volunteers helped remove a ½ acre of invasive species near the trail in Easter Lake Park. Notice the before and after results from everyone's hard work.


April 25, 2014 marked the first year of Trash Bash participation for the Easter Lake Watershed Project. Watershed coordinators worked with 15 volunteers cleaning up trash along the SE 14th and McKinley intersection.

Get Involved in Trash Bash 2023!

Form a Team

Participation is Trash Bash is easy and fun! Each year multiple volunteer projects are located throughout the Metro. Participate in these projects by helping form a team as a Team Captain. Team Captains help register their teams who can be made up of friends , family, or your co-workers!  Teams are matched with volunteer projects which can include trash pickup, invasive species removal, park maintenance, tree planting, and more! Learn more about forming a team and participating by visiting the Earth Day Trash Bash website.

Be a Sponsor

Help support volunteers and the partners who help make Trash Bash a success each year. In the Easter Lake Watershed, Trash Bash is our biggest day of volunteering each year and has helped us make a noticeable different in our watershed especially when it comes to helping restore our woodland areas. Learn more about how you or your business can help sponsor Trash Bash 2023 by visiting the Earth Day Trash Bash website.


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