Local News

October 19, 2013

Lakeshore wetlands on the mend

DALTON — Local officials may not have the money yet to restore the wetland near Lakeshore Park. But they do have something almost as good: beavers.

“Beavers have moved back in. They’ve built a dam and raised the water level, and the wetland is in much better shape than it was before,” said John Lugthart, professor of biology at Dalton State College.

Lugthart and others at DSC have been working with the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies to restore the wetlands and make other changes at Lakeshore that will improve the environmental health of the park as well as make it a more attractive place to visit. Lugthart and some students spoke Friday on those efforts to a meeting of the board of the Dalton State College Foundation.

Two years ago, local officials reached out to the Archway Partnership, a University of Georgia program that connects communities with experts to help solve their problems. Archway brought in two students from the College of Environment and Design at UGA who helped draw up a master plan for the park. That plan included a walking trail around the park with an overlook at the wetlands, a fishing pier at the lake, an outdoor classroom, a walkway to Brookwood Elementary School as well as restoring the nearby streams.

Lugthart said that so far they haven’t been able to get grants to fund that work. But they’ve gotten help from local beavers, and several DSC students have been doing research at the park for the past three years, taking various measures of the health of the lake, the wetlands and the surrounding area.

“This is a very complex lake, with many different interconnections,” he said.

Cris Shelton, a DSC biology student, has been studying turtles at the lake. He said the size and diversity of the turtle population reflects the overall health of the lake and wetlands.

He said that in 2013 alone, DSC students and faculty captured 287 turtles from several different species, including 213 that had not been tagged in previous years and 68 juveniles. They were tagged and returned to the lake.


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