WESTMINSTER — Wetlands, which once existed near a lake at what is now the HashawhaEnvironmental Appreciation Center, may appear again.
County officials are awaiting word on a $30,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources that would finance reconstruction of wetlands at the center, off John Owings Road and Route 97.
"We are in the process of trying to develop freshwater wetlands at Hashawha," said Loren Lustig, administrator at Hashawha. "Our objective is to turn back the clock and re-establish a wetland in an area where we feel almost certain wetland existed before the impact of white man on the land and before the agricultural impact of the 20th century."
The project would be a joint venture of the Soil Conservation District, the Department of Natural Resources, Hashawha and others, Lustig said.
Charles Null Jr., district manager for the Carroll Soil Conservation District, said the wetlands would be used as a prototype for other landowners, particularly farmers who may be working on land conservation projects.
Once re-created, the wetlands would encompass about 1 1/2 acres adjoining Lake Hashawha, Lustig said.
To reconstruct wetlands, the site would be excavated and sediment removed. The site would be graded at various depths to create natural drainage patterns and to sustain plant and animal life.
Water would be fed into the wetlands through springs and a stream, Null said.
The wetlands would provide educational opportunities for Carroll's youth and visitors, and benefit wildlife and the environment, Lustig said.
The wetlands, he said, would provide county students, who attend the outdoor school as sixth-graders, with an intimate glance of wetlands and the wildlife they sustain. The project would include a boardwalk, allowing visitors to walk into the wetlands.
Lustig said the wetlands would draw water fowl, amphibians and turtles, as well as"a whole kingdom of microscopic animals."
Wetlands serve as environmental purifiers, Lustig said, collecting impurities and allowing pure water to filter out of the wetlands.
"Wetlands are a jewel in terms of environmental benefits," Lustig said. "They are a hidden diamond we're just beginning to understand more clearly."
Null said work on the project is expected to begin this spring. County officialsare awaiting final word on the grant and expect to sign a contract this week.
"We've been working on this for four years," Lustig said.
Null noted that the project is not being subsidized by tax dollars. The grant money, he said, comes from contributions to replace wetlands across the state.