White Oaks Nature Conservation Area Improvements

As part of their Senior Design Capstone course, students in Civil and Environmental Engineering collaborated with Mahaska County Conservation to conduct a site assessment and design improvements for the White Oaks Nature Conservation Area. 

White Oak Conservation Area is a focal point for Mahaska County, Iowa that currently provides scenic trail routes and access to a 20-acre lake, amongst other amenities for residents and visitors to enjoy. One of the major amenities of White Oak is the 20-acre lake which includes boat ramp access and is used for recreation and fishing. Along with the lake, the site has mowed walking paths with multiple pedestrian bridges across small streams, as well as pavilions and playgrounds that can be accessed via gravel roads. The conservation area is a great attraction to citizens of Mahaska County as well as visitors who enjoy the many activities and scenery this site has to offer. However, many of the features have deteriorated, preventing full enjoyment of the area, and community leaders hope to see new enhancements and amenities in White Oak. 

To keep this area as a destination spot, the student civil and environmental engineering group proposed rehabilitation and improvements across multiple site features.  The design elements addressed by the team include: an evaluation of the lake, new pavilions, new pedestrian bridges, enhanced roadways, new parking lots, an upgraded boat ramp, rehabilitated walking trails, and a new playground area.  Final deliverables include a comprehensive report, detailed designs, cost estimates, and a phasing plan. 

A sign with a lake in the. background during summer.
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