Wet, wild, wonderful
July 27, 2010
By Mary Grimes
ONE touch of nature makes the whole world kin." William Shakespeare may not have been in the land of the Morning Calm when he spoke those words, but one need only visit the wetlands of U.S. Army Garrison Daegu's Camp Carroll to see how easily he might have been inspired.
The first-ever wetland/stream restoration, enhancement and wetland creation project in Korea by the U.S. Army is located just inside the main gate to Camp Carroll, within the Korean town of Waegwan in Chilgok County (just 30 minutes north of Daegu). It spans approximately 1,600 feet, from its upper segment to the downstream point where the wetland flows off the installation boundary and into Korea's longest natural stream of water, the Nakdong River.
Made up of a mixed habitat that includes a seasonal stream and pond, initial hydrologic work on the wetlands project included stream channel restoration, stream channel elevation adjustments, a stream bank design that represents a typical seasonal stream landform, and the introduction of treated water upstream into the system.
According to USAG Daegu, Department of Public Works (Environmental) Natural Resources Program Manager John T. Kunneke, the wetland project proceeded in a unique fashion for a restoration. "One or all of these design approaches are typical for wetland and stream habitat restoration," said Kunneke. "However, it is rare that restoration, enhancement and creation take place within the same project."
DPW kicked off the Camp Carroll wetland/stream restoration and enhancement project in November 2008. "Prior to this timeframe, this was a type of Boy Scout project that been brought to our attention," Kunneke explained. "There was a need to revegetate an area near Daegu's Chilgok County outfall, where the stream was getting silted up over the years due to offsite runoff coming into the installation at that point. That was not performed under technical guidance, and plant survivorship was low."
Kunneke said that the DPW Environmental Division has designed the wetland restoration, the viewing structures, footpath, and created a pond and the vegetation zonation design. "DPW is behind the overall landscape design, and enhancement of the stream and wetland complex. We are also providing contractor oversight and quality control on all the restoration and enhancement work that is being performed.
"The hydrologic component of the project has been a key factor in the design. The project area is bounded by three hydrologic sections called 'reaches': the Upper, Middle and Lower Reaches. The Upper and Middle Reach segments have been restored and enhanced. The pond has been designed in order to create additional wetland and floodplain function associated with the overall system. During periods of higher stream discharge, the pond has been designed to hydrologically connect to the upper and lower segments of the Middle Reach. A floodplain island was created between the pond and the stream, and serves as both an additional function as well as a wildlife buffer zone."
Kunneke explained that while the terminology may sound completely foreign to those not familiar with wetland operations or functions, a healthy environment is something even a novice can comprehend. "Evidence of the wetland's early success has included previously undocumented bird species, including migratory songbirds, wading birds and ducks; previously undocumented frog species, the dark-spotted frog; and the immediate utilization of the wetland by raccoon dogs."
In a recent update of the progress being made at the wetlands site, Kunneke reported that the location continues to respond favorably to restoration and enhancement objectives following the latest phase of stream and wetland habitat work in the Lower Reach.
"As you can imagine, the favorable response is vital to the wetlands project," Kunneke said. "It includes stream channel stabilization and desirable course adjustment; removal of silt layer among many sections of the stream channel and corresponding exposure of the former streambed; pond water levels maintaining depth and duration corresponding to rainfall and dry periods; and pond inlet and outlet elevations functioning as planned.
"Following the final elevation and stream modifications in the lower section of the Lower Middle Reach, and throughout the Lower Reach, there has been a constant stream flow within the channel throughout that area. The stream channel has begun to take shape and adjust itself favorably within the stream banks."
Continuing with his update Kunneke said that water deer have also used the project area. "The fish population prior to restoration startup was severely diminished. Immediately following completion of hydrologic design work, the fish population began to restore itself and utilize the new areas of the Upper and Middle Reaches previously not accessible and utilizable.
"The success is referred to as 'early,' because typically it can take up to a year for wildlife establishment within a project area of this nature setting and design. The project is (now) in the final restoration phase. DPW will be planting some additional shrubs and trees. We can expect a monitoring and maintenance program to be in place for about one year. The target for monitoring and maintenance is actually three years. As you can imagine, monitoring and maintenance are critical components for restoration projects of this nature."
The Camp Carroll wetlands will function not only as a testament to how seriously the garrison takes its responsibility as steward of the environment, but as a learning environment as well. Both on-post and local schools have planned outings for their students.
<i>Mary Grimes works for the USAG Daegu public affairs.</i>