Mon., December 10, 2012 4:00am (EST)

Former Dump To Become Wetland Preserve
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Trails wind around a lake where people will be able to launch kayaks. County officials say the $2 million project's real value is as a wetlands "mitigation bank." They can use the new park as credit to complete other projects, like road and drainage improvements, that require disturbing wetlands elsewhere. (photo Andrew Howard)
Trails wind around a lake where people will be able to launch kayaks. County officials say the $2 million project's real value is as a wetlands "mitigation bank." They can use the new park as credit to complete other projects, like road and drainage improvements, that require disturbing wetlands elsewhere. (photo Andrew Howard)
Coastal Chatham County has transformed a former dumping ground once used by litterers to drop off tires and furniture into a wetlands park.

County officials say the nearly five hundred acre preserve is worth millions of dollars.

Trails wind around a lake and through the wetlands.

The area has a spot to launch kayaks.

Litterers once left tires and furniture at the site.

Now walking trails wind around a lake and through wetlands.

The new preserve sits on the Ogeechee River and county officials envision it connecting with an existing boat ramp park and the University of Georgia's Bamboo Farm.

Assistant County Engineer Leon Davenport says, the $2 million project's real value is as a "bank" to offset other projects worth much more.

"If we happen to have to disturb or be in areas that would be considered wetlands by the Corp of Engineers and their standards then we the county as the project sponsor are required to debit our bank for credit," Davenport says. "This is our mitigation bank."

Those other projects could include road or drainage improvements.

According to Davenport, litterers once used the area to dump old furniture and tires.

"It will be something that is aesthetically pleasing that people I think will enjoy coming to," Davenport says. "This area will tie into King's Ferry, the boat ramp on 17 at the Ogeechee River and the Bamboo Farm with trails and paths for pedestrians and bicycles."

The wetlands preserve is slated to open early next year.