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City Council approves grant for urban ecology restoration project

Monday, September 19, 2011 | 5:32 p.m. CDT; updated 11:33 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 19, 2011

COLUMBIA — The City Council voted unanimously Monday evening to approve a grant that would provide additional money toward the 3M Urban Ecology Restoration Project along Hinkson Creek and the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail.

The $25,000 Five Star Restoration Challenge Grant is administered by the National Association of Counties Research Foundation. Nearly a year ago, $60,000 was set aside for the project, which has two main goals:

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  • Create a sustainable wetland.
  • Have the ability to control and store water from storm and ground runoff.

"Anyone that's in this business would be really excited about it," said Richard Perkins, an engineering aide and assistant park planner for Columbia. "The ability to reuse rainwater once it has fallen is always good."

In the past year, contracted workers have worked to properly grade the roughly 20 acres of land in addition to making the area less susceptible to stormwater runoff. In the upcoming months volunteers will plant native trees and shrubs.

The additional money, if approved, would be used to turn an abandoned pump house on the property into an observation area. Donated plants, grown and provided by Forest ReLeaf of Missouri, would then be planted around the remodeled building.

"This helps us in addition to the previous projects," Brett O'Brien of the city's Parks and Recreation Department said. "It's additional money that can help us do a little more around the old pump house building — we didn't have much to work with it (the pump house) previously."

The old building is two stories tall with two other floors underground. The plan is to tear down the brick walls inside the building and leave behind the concrete structure. The top floor will be transformed into an observation area, which will feature a green roof.

Much of the contractual work will go towards backfilling the land surrounding the pump house, which means dirt will slope down to the ground from the building's second story.

If the grant is approved by the council Monday evening, the city will then set aside funds for the project. The project will have more benefits than solely creating a wetland and controlling runoff, Chris Woodson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

"To be able to talk about issues of declining wetland habitats and stream runoffs with the public," Woodson said. "It's just a good source of an outreach type project."


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