To the average passerby, the Camp Carroll Wetland may look like little more than an abandoned lot consumed by overgrown weeds. For the better informed, however, it may be a perfect example of nature using every opportunity to exhibit her awesome biodiversity.
Understandably, the USAG Daegu environmental experts could not be more satisfied with what is proving to be an environmental support effort that just keeps yielding positive results. It only takes a walk through the wetland area to realize just why the environmental team would feel this way. However, it's in comprehending just what is happening there that leaves the USAG Daegu and Area IV community feeling significantly proud of the progress being made towards the Camp Carroll Wetland & Stream Restoration Project.
It's not just the adult community that gets to enjoy the wonders of the wetland. A science class from Daegu American School (DAS) recently produced a presentation of the biological processes at the wetland following their class tour to the Camp Carroll site. In an educational and informative presentation that even a layman might better understand, J. Thomas Kunneke, PWS, USAG Daegu, DPW Environmental Division, Natural Resources Management, explained some of the wonders of the wetland system pointing out everything from stream species, and water tables diversity of ground cover and the various species of spiders and butterflies.
"In a sweeping view of the wetland, what one can see is downstream along the central upland footpath, are the many endemic trees and shrubs planted in the upland corridor over the past two years," he said. "These species include: Korean Pine; Chinese Fringe; Japanese Maple; Korean Cherry; Zelkova; Rose of Sharon (the national flower of Korea); and perhaps the most significant is the Korean King Willow. It is from the observation deck (one of five visitor structures) that one can catch a view of the stream reaches known as the Upper Middle Reach and Lower Middle Reach, comprising part of the 1, 600-feet total stream corridor."
Also of primary importance to both the U.S. and Korean community is that the Camp Carroll Wetland and Stream Restoration Project provides a combination of hydrologic and biologic services that greatly benefit downstream resources. This includes the Nakdong River which is just slightly more than a mile below the project area. Kunneke indicated that perhaps some of the most valuable services the wetland provides to the downstream stakeholders are the water filtration and the removal of silt and sediment suspended in the stream column--a service that is provided by streams functioning appropriately. He added that fish species that spend part of their life cycle in the Nakdong River are also found in the Camp Carroll stream, as well as the Korean salamander which only inhabits streams of higher water quality.
"Biologically, due to the proximity of the Nakdong River, there is ample opportunity for integrated floodplain resources extending upstream from the Nakdong River to the Camp Carroll wetland thus providing increased biodiversity," stated Kunneke.
Evidence of that increase in biodiversity can be seen from a footbridge extending across the inlet channel that connects a pond with the stream system. The pond was designed to connect to the stream via an inlet and an outlet channel. This function offers a multitude of benefit biologically, esthetically and educationally. Kunneke explained that during stream discharge events that drain heavy rainfalls the inlet channel of the pond will flow, and the pond will accommodate a maximum staging level. It then will release water through the outlet channel to the stream system. During the growing season (monsoon season) the pond will typically maintain close to a maximum stage depth and this elevation corresponds to the wetland vegetation that requires seasonal saturation and/or inundation. Pond banks were designed at 4:1 slope ratios in order to accommodate several plots of native herbaceous plants along the slopes. Korean iris can be observed extending along the pond shoreline and in the pond core are two species of endemic water lily (pigmy water lily and yellow floating heart).
"Functionally, the pond is performing hydrologic and biologic services as a floodplain component to the project. It is unique in design in that it was created by excavating in the historic floodplain and allowing the water body to slowly adjust to a permanent level according to the water table," said Kunneke.
"The Camp Carroll Wetland and Stream Restoration Project incorporated wetland restoration, wetland enhancement and wetland creation design objectives which ultimately transformed this once-storage lot for heavy equipment back to its historic function."