Lake Herrick, one of the most beautiful places on the University of Georgia campus, officially reopened on Oct. 17, creating new opportunities for recreation, research and experiential learning.
Named for Allyn M. Herrick, former dean of the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Lake Herrick was commissioned in 1982 as a recreational resource for UGA and the Athens community. It was a popular spot for swimming, fishing and boating for two decades. Campus and community events were held in the pavilion, and the Department of Recreational Sports staffed lifeguards and concession vendors.
In 2002, the lake was closed to swimming and boating due to water quality concerns but remained open for fishing, walking and birdwatching. Now, thanks to generous support from the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation and the dedicated efforts of UGA faculty, staff and students and members of the Athens community, Lake Herrick has reopened.
“The University of Georgia is grateful to the Georgia Power Foundation and the Riverview Foundation for helping us bring this valuable campus and community resource back to life,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “The Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Project is an outstanding example of what can be accomplished at UGA with the help of private support.”
Leaders in the Warnell School, Recreational Sports and the Facilities Management Division at UGA charged an ad hoc committee in early 2016 with developing prioritized management objectives and a phasing plan for physical improvements to the lake. The committee’s five-phase master plan includes recommendations for design, management, water quality monitoring and experiential learning.
The first two phases of the project, which were dedicated at the Oct. 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony, include rehabilitation of the Oconee Forest pond and improvements to the Lake Herrick shoreline. The first phase adds a walking trail and native plants while improving the Oconee Forest pond to prevent sediment and pollutants from passing downstream to Lake Herrick and the North Oconee River.
The Lake Herrick shoreline improvements create a terraced lawn for activities and events; an accessible dock for launching kayaks, canoes and paddle boards into the lake; and a walking trail through native vegetation along the lake’s edge.
An overlook dock and renovation of the Lake Herrick Pavilion provide more opportunities for engagement within this vibrant campus landscape.
“The Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Project demonstrates UGA’s ongoing commitment to steward natural resources and advance campus sustainability,” said Kevin Kirsche, director of UGA’s Office of Sustainability. “My hope is that members of the UGA and local community will get outdoors and enjoy Lake Herrick and Oconee Forest Park, fall in love with this place, and continue to protect and restore these and other natural treasures.”
Lake Herrick is a prominent feature within Oconee Forest Park, which serves as a living laboratory for research in the natural and social sciences and an interdisciplinary outdoor classroom. Faculty and students in visual arts, communication studies, ecology, engineering, forestry and natural resources, landscape architecture and other disciplines have unique opportunities for experiential learning at the site. Lake Herrick also is open to the public for enjoyment.