Story County Conversation continues investments into local 'treasures'

Story County Conservation officially adopted the 30-year master plans for improvements and expansions to the “community treasures” of Hickory Grove Park and McFarland Park last month.

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The entrance of Hickory Grove Park is seen here on Wednesday, June 7 in Colo.

The plans were adopted as presented with no changes or lengthy discussion during the May 8 meeting, Story County Conservation Director Mike Cox said.

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The reality of those master plans could start to form as early as the summer 2024 when the next fiscal year budget is adopted.

The Board hosted two public input sessions in March highlighting the plans.

“We are hearing that everybody really loves these two parks,” Cox said in March at the open house in Colo.

Cox says he expects use to increase from the continued investment.

“Hickory Grove’s annual visits exceed 200,000,” Cox said. “Those numbers speak for themselves that Hickory Grove is not underutilized and is the heartbeat of the area.”

Cox said not only is Hickory Grove Park a favorite of Story County residents, but people come from all around the state and country to access the lake and campground.

“It is part of the fabric for the community,” Cox said.

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Jeremiah Lucas, 14, of Marshalltown enjoys playing in the water Wednesday, June at Hickory Grove Park in Colo.

The newly adopted Hickory Grove Park master plan builds on millions of dollars invested over recent years, which includes a total lake restoration. The board is nearing completion of a new $900,000 wastewater system in the park.

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Recent work a Hickory Grove includes addressing water quality issues, beach and beach-house improvements in addition to fish habitat development.

Anglers will find walleye, black crappie, blue gill, largemouth bass and channel catfish.

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An image of the lake at Hickory Grove Park on Wednesday, June 7 in Colo.

Now that these two master plans have been adopted, Cox is focused on the list of about 40 capital projects spread throughout the county.

These include the Deppe project land acquisition and a water trail access project at Soper’s Mill about six miles northeast of Ames.

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People enjoy fishing Wednesday, June 7 at Hickory Grove Park in Colo.

“These investments into Hickory Grove and McFarland Park demonstrate that these are our community treasures and we will continue to invest resources into making them the best user experience we can,” Cox said.

Hickory Grove Park is located at 67464 250th Street in Colo, about seven miles southeast of Ames. McFarland Park is located at 56461 180th Street, Ames. It is located about four miles northeast of Ames.

Teresa Kay Albertson covers politics, crime, courts and local government in Ames and central Iowa for the Ames Tribune and Des Moines Register. Reach her on Twitter @TeresaAlberts11 and at, 515-419-6098.

© Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune
Mason Rickety, 9, from Colo, casts out into the lake Wednesday, June 7 at Hickory Grove Park in Colo.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Story County Conversation continues investments into local ‘treasures’

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