OSU Botanical Gardens Project in Stillwater

In 2006, the Oklahoma Stream Team held a meeting at the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Botanical Gardens education center. One of the reasons for this meeting was to examine an eroded stream and drainage channel at the low end of the 100 acre site that empties into nearby Stillwater Creek. While working the erosion site, conversations turned to the OSU-BG's recently drafted Master Plan to add a new education building, new entry roads and other amenities.

It became apparent that this site could incorporate several Low Impact Development (LID) and stream protection Best Management Practices (BMPs) that might also include research opportunities for OSU students. What resulted was a series of technical meetings between the OST and OSU staff. The outcome of these planning and strategy meetings became known as the Integrated Environmental Research and Education Site (IERES - view report here), a concept that incorporates water quality protection, University level research opportunities, green building techniques, and public education, all to be found in one location (view map here).

The site plan for the IERES includes the following major components:

  1. A 4,000 sq ft energy efficient and environmentally protective education building.
  2. An entrance road and parking lot integrated with a series of structural BMPs working together as a "treatment train" for stormwater runoff.
  3. A "Utility Garden" that promotes the sustainable integration of utility infrastructure into the landscape.
  4. A trail network that includes educational information for all environmental demonstration components.
  5. An enhanced riparian corridor along Stillwater and Cow Creeks.
  6. An improved richness in biodiversity and wildlife habitat.

The City of Stillwater's urban trail system will be extended to the site where kiosks of information about a number of BMPs can be easily enjoyed by the public, Many BMPs will have incorporated sampling devices and locations for student research. Both large and small BMPs will be showcased for public viewing. The site will include sections devoted to displaying plants from many of Oklahoma's ecoregions. Native vegetation will be researched as a means to visually screen large structures, such as the electrical sub-station on the site. Comparisons of runoff quality between standard paved surfaces and permeable surfaces can be monitored. Rain garden roofs, downspout rain barrels and cisterns for plant water capture will be accessible, stream bank erosion control measures will be displayed, and a pocket wetland designed for water quality protection will be constructed and monitored.

Funding for implementation of all Master Plan components is presently being sought. Projects will be developed in phases. For more information about the IERES program, please contact INCOG by email or by phone at (918) 579-9450, or contact OSU architecture staff or OSU-BG staff via email.