WHEN: Saturday, June 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WHERE: Ijams Visitor Center Plaza Pond
WHO: Ijams staff and volunteers collecting, categorizing, counting and relocating turtles, salamanders, snakes and other residents of the Ijams Visitor Center Plaza Pond
WHY: To prepare for pond repair and restoration
CONTACT: Cindy Hassil, 865-201-8336
Plans are under way to repair possible leaks in the pond on the Visitor Center’s Plaza at Ijams Nature Center, and the first step is to relocate the residents of this popular aquatic habitat.
One of Ijams’ most visible water features, this pond serves as a critical part of Ijams’ aquatic educational programs as well as a peaceful place for visitors to view the creatures that call it home. The more than 20-year-old pond boasts native animals and insects such as water snakes, salamanders, frogs, toads, turtles and dragonflies, and is a showcase for native plants.
When water levels began to drop during early fall 2017, staff researched possible reasons. They first discovered that the pipes that transfer water to the pond after being used in the Visitor Center’s geothermal heating and cooling system had become blocked with tree roots, which prevented the water from reaching the pond. Work was done to dig up and clear the pipes, but it did not resolve the problem. While these pipes ultimately will need to be replaced, the staff and several consultants who evaluated the pond determined there was most likely a crack in its foundation.
Once the animals have been captured, categorized and relocated to a nearby pond on the Ijams grounds, staff will empty the pond to find and patch any cracks, and then replant and restore the pond. The restoration also is an opportunity to remove any nonnative, invasive plant species, which will encourage native plants to thrive and provide a healthy habitat for East Tennessee animals and insects.