Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Today's Wander took our dynamic group of Wetland enthusiasts on a walk through Springfield's historic Mill Race area by Booth-Kelly trailhead. Originally constructed in 1852, the Mill Race and Mill Pond powered Springfield's first grist and saw mills. Covering an area approximately 3.5 miles long, the Mill Race flows along the southern edges of the City of Springfield. In 1985, after this historic property was donated to the City of Springfield by Georgia-Pacific, local officials began the next steps to assume the responsibilities of managing the waterway. 

Since then, the City and partners from the Willamalane Parks and Recreation District, have made steady progress in their efforts to manage and restore the Mill Race and Mill Pond as well as efforts invested in telling the story. Every summer since 2016, the City of Springfield hosts the Upstream Art project and commissions local artists to paint inspirational murals to help depict the story of stormwater near drains and on sidewalks. These beautiful creations raise awareness of the connection between city streets and local waterways while supporting artists and beatifying the city.  

The Mill Pond was constructed as a Stormwater treatment pond and was completed in 2015. Native plant communities were established to take-in trace minerals such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and others running off of the surrounding impervious surfaces. These plants work together with the hydric soils, to which heavy metals stick, and the microbes from the pond to filter water coming in from the neighboring mill.

The City and co. have tested water coming into the pond and have found that the water coming in is much 'dirtier' than the water flowing out from the other end of the pond, proving that these wetland plant and animal communities are vitally important in the process of cleaning and filtering the water! The pond also has created excellent edge habitat for local wildlife living in an urban environment. In our short visit, we observed American Coot, Ring-necked ducks, a Northern Harrier, Pied-billed Grebes, and Hooded mergansers. 

WREN would like to thank Brett Parsons, Natural Resources Specialist with Willamalane, and Meghan Murphy, an Environmental Technician with the City of Springfield for leading today's adventure!

We hope that you can join us next month on Tuesday, December 8th for a tour of Delta Ponds with Rick Ahrens.

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