Columbia plant being turned into wildlife habitat -

Columbia plant being turned into wildlife habitat

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- An old sewer treatment plant in Columbia is being transformed into a natural wildlife habitat around Hinkson Creek.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that the project is at the former site of the city's second sewer treatment plant. The project is funded with a $40,000 grant from 3M and $20,000 collected from Columbia's park sales tax. It is meant to restore the area's natural habitat.

"There was always such potential for" the site, "but we had to think where the funding was going to come from," said Brett O'Brien, Parks and Recreation natural resources supervisor. "The funding from 3M was kind of the catalyst for this."

The 3M Urban Ecological Restoration Project will set up wetlands and bottomlands that will not only help migratory and aquatic birds and other wildlife but also will create a 140-acre stormwater hold that will slow the rise of Hinkson Creek. The project is set to be finished this fall.

The main purpose is to clean up an unused site, said Richard Perkins, engineering aide for the project. "Nature has its own way of adjusting to what we do."

Perkins said the area will provide another home for the urban deer population, wading birds, beavers, wood ducks and other animals. O'Brien also noted the indigo bunting as an example of a summer migratory bird that could use the site as a temporary home.

A pump house will be converted into an open-air viewing platform with a green roof, meaning plants will be grown on top of and around it.

O'Brien said mosquitoes and other insects that flock to wetlands aren't expected to be a concern.

"We're creating a habitat for amphibians and birds, too, that eat the bugs," he said. "It's not going to be a stagnant, swampy, terrible place to be."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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