“You could say we’re trying to jump-start nature,” said Ruth Mead, the senior education specialist for the park’s operator, Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy.
The project focused on planting baldcypress seedlings in an area near Butler Creek once used as farmland but low enough to be flooded when the creek overflowed its banks.
The area was deepened further during construction of the academy’s campus area, where fill dirt was needed to level the site for classrooms and laboratories.
“Over time it has developed nicely as a wetland, so we are enhancing it with baldcypress,” Mead said.
The 300 seedlings were grown locally and donated by a member of WeForest, an international nonprofit organization that promotes reforestation. Baldcypress, Mead said, is a native species commonly associated with low-lying Southern wetlands.
“It’s still the predominant tree of the swamp out here,” she said.
Since its creation in 1996, the academy has managed the 1,100-acre park for purposes including education, conservation and research.
The property, owned by the city of Augusta, includes a network of “constructed wetlands” that use natural grasses and bullrushes to filter and improve the quality of the city’s treated wastewater before it enters the Savannah River.