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Vernal pond installed at Durbin Project

After more than a year of planning, the WKU-Habitat for Humanity (HFH) Durbin Project broke ground on Friday (Aug. 3) with the installation of a vernal pond.  Most of the work was completed as planned, with wetland plantings to be done later this fall.

Volunteers installed a vernal pond Aug. 3 at the WKU-Habitat for Humanity Durbin Project.

Community volunteers and project partners participated with Tom Biebighauser, wildlife biologist and wetland ecologist with the Center for Wetland and Stream Restoration, supervising the effort and Scott and Ritter, Inc. operating the equipment.  The WKU Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability (CEES) planned the day, as part of a grant project funded by the Kentucky Division of Water. Brooke Shireman, Angie Wingfield, Stefanie Osterman from the Kentucky Division of Water, participated in the volunteers’ day. “I have heard wonderful things about Tom and wanted to see an installation first-hand,” Shireman said. “I am excited to see how this part of the project is integrated into the entire project.”

The vernal pond at Durbin will be an interesting feature for community residents that adds habitat for plants and animals. It will also serve as a natural habitat learning facility for school groups, and in particular, for the new Dishman-McGinnis Elementary School that is soon to be built at the former LC Curry Elementary site, located just across Glen Lily road from the Durbin site. Bowling Green Independent Schools is a key partner for the Durbin Project and serves on its Advisory Council.  The Durbin community will eventually comprise 43 residences, a community building, an integrated green infrastructure, green buildings, and shared green space with walking trails, community gardens and edible plantings. The land is owned by Habitat for Humanity of Bowling Green-Warren County. The project will be developed over several years.

Vernal ponds are seasonal wetlands that are usually quite small and are covered by shallow water during the wetter part of the year. Climatic changes associated with each season cause dramatic changes in the appearance of and the flora and fauna associated with vernal ponds. Common animals seen at vernal ponds include toads and frogs, salamanders and dragon flies. A variety of bird life is attracted to the pools which are used as a seasonal source of food and water. In many areas, vernal ponds are disappearing due to sprawl patterns of growth, and efforts are being made to protect and restore them, as their disappearance marks the loss of important habitat for associated plants and animals.

For information, contact Nancy Givens at (270) 745-2842 or nancy.givens@wku.edu or Terry Wilson at (270) 745-4671 or terry.wilson@wku.edu at the WKU Center for Environmental Education and Sustainability.

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