What's Up With That?: interchange spurs new wetland

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"I bike the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail all the time. One of my least favorite stretches is Hazel Dell Avenue, where I see there is tree clearing and construction under way. It's squeezed right between Hazel Dell Avenue and I-5. The parcel appears to be state property. What's up with that?"—Scott Hewitt, average citizen

Scott, the spot you're describing is being transformed as wetland mitigation for the state Department of Transportation's interchange project at state Highway 500 and St. Johns Boulevard. Work started in May and should be complete this winter, according to Department of Transportation spokeswoman Heidi Sause.

The 5-acre site will become a protected wetland, she said.

"Thus far, crews have removed blacktop, cleared invasive plant species and done some excavation and grading work to shape the basic landscape for the wetland," Sause said. "Later this year, crews will remove an old culvert from the creek to restore the natural stream channel through the site, and do a lot of planting and landscaping work.

"Trail users will probably see workers doing maintenance and upkeep for the next year or so while the wetland is established," she said.

Some of the materials that will build the new wetland are recycled from earlier stages of the St. Johns project, she said. "We had to remove a number of trees from the trail in order to build the new interchange ramps. After they were removed from the job site, we relocated the trees and are reusing them as habitat structures (for nesting, etc.) at the new wetland."

You can see similar uses of downed trees as wildlife habitat along the eastern stretch of the trail. — Scott Hewitt

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