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Anderson County Parks Benefit from Bioengineering


By Amy O. Maxwell, USDA-NRCS 
Public Affairs Specialist

Two parks in Anderson County now have a new look thanks to an energized partnership. Darwin Wright andCater’s Lake Parks were the locations of a recent shoreline stabilization demonstration project.The project was a joint effort of local, state, and federal agencies, and peoplein Anderson County are reaping the benefits. The project was coordinated by the Anderson Soil andWater Conservation District (SWCD) along with Clemson University’s Shoreline Restoration Research Project, with technical and financialassistance provided by the City of Anderson (Parks and Street Departments), USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS), and the Foothills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D)Council.

Last April, the Anderson SWCD and Dr. Larry Dyck, Clemson UniversityShoreline Restoration Research Project coordinator, approached the City of Anderson about installing bioengineering demonstrations around Darwin Wright andCater’s Lakes. The shoreline restoration project was initiated to help healthe scars of erosion which marred both of the lakes. Undercut banks createdlarge ravines and unsightly erosion. Despite being an eyesore, the erosion wascausing even bigger problems for water quality.

When soil around a lake or pond is not stabilized by plant roots or othermaterials, non-point source pollution is the result. This means that pollutedwater runs off into nearby streams and other water sources. The solution to thispollution is actually quite simple! Basically, the rule of thumb is that anaturally vegetated shoreline is crucial to a lake's health. Vegetation alongthese lakes acts as lungs and kidneys, filtering out harmful pollutants,protecting and beautifying the public parks, and enhancing fish and wildlifehabitat. Using bioengineering (a mixture of plants and other reinforcingmaterials), the shoreline around these water bodies was healed.

At Cater’s Lake, 500 feet of shoreline were stabilized using recycled materials donated by theCity of Anderson. The eroded shoreline was then stabilized with over 250 native plants andmulched with ground brush and tree limbs. Materials used at both projectsincluded filter fabrics and native plants such as Switch grass. “The longroots of Switch grass are an excellent way of holding soil in place along ashoreline,” explained Dyck. “There are many benefits of introducing naturalmaterials into the shoreline, and it’s more of a permanent solution as opposedto using manmade materials which need to be replaced.”

At Darwin Wright Park, 250 feet of shoreline was rebuilt using soil brought in by the county. Switchgrass was then plugged into filter fabric, and rocks were used to anchor theplants. Foothills RC&D Council Chairman Wes Cooler said, “With the rapidgrowth of Anderson County, it’s important that we remember the importance of maintaining and protectingopen spaces like these parks, which are in the middle of the city.” He saidthe demonstration projects will not only protect these areas and nearby watersources, but may also encourage homeowners around the lake to the do the same.“I hope that homeowners who live along the shoreline will see this project andrealize that they can also make a difference by stabilizing their ownshoreline.” Dave Demarest emphasized those thoughts by saying, “We aretrying to show the general public the big picture in that it’s important toprotect soil and water resources and that it is everyone’s responsibility todo their part.”

Mike Banks, NRCS District Conservationist for Anderson County, recently welcomed project partners and others to an unveiling of the projectsign at Darwin Wright Park. “This sign will hopefully educate park visitors and Anderson County residents about the project and help them realize the role that we all play insoil and water conservation.” He also recognized the Anderson CountyLegislative Delegation for providing cost-share funds from the Water RecreationFund to install the project.

For more information, or to find out how you can protect theshoreline, contact your local USDA Service Center, or call the Clemson University Shoreline Restoration Research Project at (864)656-3583.