The Louisville Water Foundation supports not only safe water projects worldwide but also source water protection and education efforts in our own backyard. A good example is a $25,000 grant the Foundation awarded to the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest last year for its Spring Restoration and Education Project, which established a unique site to educate students and the public about stewardship of water resources.
“This project has generated a lot of interest and quickly became a destination for spring and wetland education that school groups and visitors can easily access,” said Andrew Berry, Bernheim’s Director of Conservation.
Bernheim has worked for nearly a century to restore aquatic systems and help students as well as the general public understand their importance. These efforts include creek restoration, lake and wetlands creation, and watershed protection, but the Spring Restoration and Education Project is a rare example of spring rehabilitation in the central Kentucky region, which is known for its limestone springs.
Work on the restoration began late last year and involved digging pools, removing concrete and drain tiles, and placing rocks and logs. Just after construction was complete, a thunderstorm brought a burst of flow from the spring that quickly filled the new pools.
The restored spring created a new aquatic habitat that has brought not only elementary, high school, college, and workshop field trips but also beavers, birds, frogs, and turtles. In addition, several wetland plants returned to the spring area spontaneously. Bernheim staff also reintroduced several plant species that were found at reference springs and streams.
“As the newly introduced plants take hold and fill in this summer,” Berry said, “this site will continue to become more inspiring and biodiverse.”