COLUMBIA — Moon Valley Lake will begin a period of recovery and rehabilitation this year after a dam breakage in 2008 left it dry, and plans are coming together for educational and recreational use of the property.
With negotiations between landowner Margaret Rogers and the Greenbelt Land Trust nearing completion, Green Belt founder Jeff Barrow is planning for the land's future.
The Greenbelt Land Trust is a tax-exempt Columbia corporation established in 1993, according to its Web site, with the goals of acquiring and protecting pieces of land in the Columbia area from development.
As soon as this winter, Barrow hopes to put the land to use. Barrow said he was in talks with professor Mark Ryan, director at the MU School of Natural Resources, about allowing students to do studies and exercises on the land. Ryan has lived in a house backing the lake since 1991.
For secondary school students, Barrow hopes to speak with local schools, especially Shepard Elementary, about possibly organizing students into "Stream Teams," groups of students who would visit the property to gain conservation education and monitor water quality.
The Missouri Stream Team program operates under the state Department of Conservation. The conservation department would supply materials such as chemistry kits to local schools wishing to start a local Stream Team, Barrow said.
Residents who live nearby will have access to simple slit trails throughout the property for nature walks, although Barrow noted that the Greenbelt Land Trust is not looking to attract too much attention to the land.
For this reason, there are no plans for any type of parking area.
"Any sort of use of the property would be fairly passive," Barrow said.
Hominy Creek is beginning to carve its natural path through property, Barrow said, largely in response to heavy rain in the past few months.
To Barrow, this is a sign of good things to come. The high water events, he said, help show where trees can be planted.
Planting trees is one of the steps the land trust is taking to bring the property back to its natural state. Protecting the land from future development is also an important factor, and the contract for the property will likely include a development easement around the Hominy Creek area. Parameters of any easement depend on the outcome of a pending land survey.
The survey will be conducted by the Department of Conservation, and its purpose will be to locate the boundaries of the Hominy Creek and reserve an easement of roughly 100 feet on each side to prevent development.
Ryan expects recovery of the land to be a long-term process. "It could take 25 years to see the problem solved," he said.