Alex George Lake
After 50 years, silt from a nearby creek has lowered the depth of Alex George Lake to 3 to 4 feet. Photo by Kim Horgan.

Alex George Lake Evolves to Wetland

By Jill Draper

Once a farm pond and fishing hole, Alex George Lake is showing its age. After 50 years, silt from a nearby creek had lowered its original depth of 15-20 feet to a mere 3-4 feet—too shallow to support most types of fish.

The 9-acre lake near the northwest corner of E. Red Bridge and Blue River roads was beginning to look and smell terrible, says Dylan Galloway, a natural resource biologist with the Jackson County Department of Parks and Recreation.

When a study put the cost of restoration at nearly $1 million, state and local officials came up with a better idea. They would let the lake become a wetland that supports a diversity of wildlife and filters muddy water, and they would speed up the process by planting trees and flowers that naturally grow in wet places.

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Community volunteers came out on a recent weekend to dig holes for 118 sycamore and bald cypress trees along the creek and shoreline. Next spring they’ll return to plant flowering natives such as false water pepper, American white water lily, river oats, swamp milkweed and button bush.

“We’re introducing plant species today that probably would eventually get there,” says Galloway. “We’re just helping things along.”

According to Brian Nowotny, deputy director for Jackson County Parks, the restoration effort also will include removal of invasive brush honeysuckle and installation of educational signage. “Visitors will learn how these native trees and plants can be grown in other areas like home rain gardens,” he says.

The lake is part of a 2,400-acre corridor along the Blue River acquired by the county in the 1960s and ’70s. The county is partnering on the wetland project with the Heartland Conservation Alliance and the Missouri Department of Conservation, which are helping pay for plants and signage.

Nowotny says the lake will shrink slightly in size, but will remain as a body of standing water. Mosquitos should not be a problem, he says, because the wildlife that a wetland attracts will eat them.