Recreation to return on Lake Herrick

An area once teeming with people lounging on the beach and swimmers, Lake Herrick stands almost still now with the wind barely rippling the water. But the University of Georgia Office of Sustainability is working on renovations to Lake Herrick in hopes to bring boating and activities back to the lake.

While many students have taken canoeing or kayaking up as a hobby some take the sport a little more competitively than others.

Jack Meersman, a captain of the UGA club rowing team and a senior computer science and biochemistry major said the rowing team practices about 15 to 25 hours a week and races can consume an entire weekend.

“When you’re in a race you don’t exist anymore,” said Meersman. “You have to be one with everybody else and do everything perfectly in time.”

They make the drive about 20 minutes away to Fort Yargo State Park. To practice they need about 2,5000 meters of water to get their timing down, and there hasn’t been a good spot on Lake Herrick for that, which is why they haven’t used the lake in the past and have been doing their practices at Fort Yargo instead Meersman said. They also practice on land at a local crossfit gym where they store their rowing machines. But there is potential for the team to get some use out of Lake Herrick if the renovations would include space for them.

“It would have to be a pretty extensive project for us to move from Fort Yargo to Lake Herrick,” Meersman said. “If they upgraded the facilities around Lake Herrick … from a land work out perspective that’s where we would stand to benefit most.”

The Office of Sustainability is working on renovations to the recreation areas around the lake to support boating activities in addition on working to improve water quality.

“I was out there on Sunday afternoon, in chilly and windy weather, and there was a consistent stream of dog-walkers, joggers, fishermen, and families enjoying the trails.” said Kevin Kirsche, director of the Office of Sustainability. “That said, there’s still a significant portion of the student body that never engage with our campus lake,and probably don’t realize it exists.”

Kirsche said the most direct use is fishing and many people do utilize the trails around the area. But it’s not as popular of a place as it was when it first opened. He said the Lake Herrick Pavilion once was a popular place for fraternity and sorority events, retirement parties, church picnics, and other community events.

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Kirsche said over the years fecal coliform bacteria has grown in the water most likely from wildlife and pet droppings. To clean the area he said that the hope was for completion and reopening for boating by fall 2018. But, to complete it will take both phases of watershed restoration and renovations before everything is finalized.

“I anticipate more direct – and indirect – use of Lake Herrick after it reopens for boating.” Kirsche “I believe people will want to enjoy this newly available natural resource, and boats are available for rent at the Ramsey Center. I think more activity on the lake will lead to more people wanting to actively use the lake.”

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