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Des Moines Forestry Division Launches ‘Treesure’ Hunt in Downtown Skywalk

Skywalk Treesure Hunt

March 15, 2023

A resident once came to us with a unique idea for a new way to experience the Downtown Des Moines (DSM) skywalk system. As a new parent, they had been using the skywalk in the winter to walk their newborn in a stroller. This resident suggested that the skywalk would be the perfect location for a scavenger hunt. They proposed putting pictures up throughout the skywalk for people to walk around and find. As big fans of the skywalk, we were very intrigued and started to think about how the Des Moines Forestry Division could apply this idea to connect with residents in an interesting way. This led to an installation of cool artwork depicting all the neighborhoods in the city shaped like a tree. Following that was a combined effort with a local nonprofit, Trees Forever, and local students that painted a tree which went up over a doorway. Now we are up to two things, however, we needed a couple more.

Skywalk Window Display

Enter Dan Just, the recently hired urban forestry project manager for the City of Des Moines. Dan is a local Iowan who had been working in Washington, D.C., and recently returned to Des Moines. He very quickly came up with some fresh, cool, new ideas, one of which was working with our city arborists to help paint a picture up in the skywalk. Even while the painting was happening, there were many positive comments from passersby who liked what they saw. So, what are the other installations up there? Well, you will have to follow this link, head on up to the skywalk and find out for yourself!

About the Treesure Hunt

The Treesure Hunt is a fun new activity for residents to participate in where they can explore our skywalk while learning about the City’s urban forest. Our team has installed four temporary art pieces highlighting the leaf types of the many native trees of Des Moines. These go along with two permanent paintings already in the skywalk to serve as ‘Treesures’ that participants can photograph and submit as an entry into a raffle for a 5-to-7-foot tree to be planted on their property.

Skywalk View

There are over 50,000 street trees in Des Moines that we maintain. We also work with many other City departments, nonprofits and local businesses to plant thousands of new trees each year. The hope is that we can get residents more involved and inspire them to partner with us to increase our urban tree canopy through our community initiatives like the Tiny Trees and Urban Nursery programs.

The Treesure Hunt runs now until Sunday, April 30. Finding all six Treesures is not required, but each entry can increase the chances of winning. On Monday, May 15 the City of Des Moines will announce the raffle winner, who will get to select a tree from Forestry’s recommended species list to be planted by City employees on their property.

The Treesure Hunt is open to legal residents of the United States and the District of Columbia who are eighteen (18) years of age or older, but the prize tree must be planted with City Forester approval within the city limits of Des Moines.

The skywalk is a wonderful resource that many, many people not only from the city but all around the state, and outside come to visit throughout the year. Our hope is that this will pique people's curiosity, while providing some enjoyment and encourage people to become more involved with the forest that is right in their backyard, so to speak. Throughout the year the city offers many opportunities via Tiny Trees, urban nurseries and now hunting for treesure to be a part of the greening of our city neighborhoods. If you have any interesting ideas, please let us know and maybe we will be writing about your project soon!

The contest flyer containing a map of the Treesure locations along with the entry form and official contest rules are available at DSM.City/TreesureHunt. We’ve also created a helpful video that explains the contest:


The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.

Shane McQuillan

Born in New Zealand, Shane McQuillan began his forestry career in Australia. He previously worked in production plantation forestry before returning to university, getting married and realizing Iowa is a great place to live. McQuillan started working for the City of Des Moines where he was recently promoted to City Forester.