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Wetlands Boardwalk Installed at UT Gardens

The Green Fee, officially known as the Student Environmental Initiatives Facilities Fee, is one of the four Facilities Fees embedded in student’s tuition, that was established in 2005 by the SGA to create a fund for environmental projects on campus.

One example of a Green Fee Funded project is the new wetlands boardwalk installed last week at the UT Gardens.

A 78-foot long boardwalk now spans the middle wetland at UT Gardens. This boardwalk will provide visitors to UT Gardens, an opportunity to see the biota and fish that reside in the wetland, creating another in person learning experience for the campus population and community visitors. Wetlands are a natural filter for water moving through the landscape. The created wetland receives runoff from an uphill parking area as well as the surrounding manicured gardens, helping to protect the Tennessee River against nonpoint source pollution originating from these areas.

The project is a demonstration for homeowners as well as for municipal governments hoping to turn a drainage problem into a landscaping amenity. The project will soon display signage that helps visitors understand the complexity of the built environment as they experience a wetland ecosystem just off Neyland Drive.

The created wetland was made possible through a grant from the Tennessee Stormwater Association, design and construction oversight by faculty and staff, construction from Facilities Services, and nearly 1200 hours of effort from UT Wildlife & Fisheries Science students. Friends of the UT Gardens volunteer to maintain the wetland to prevent against invasive species establishment.

The project is a collaboration of faculty and staff in Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science, Plant Science, and Forestry, Wildlife & Fisheries Departments as well as Facilities Services at UT. The Clinch River Environmental Studies Organization assistance during wetland construction and to the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment for support of future research.

For more information, visit tiny.utk.edu/utwetlands and environment.utk.edu/student-green-fee

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