Lake Allyn M. Herrick is scheduled to reopen for limited public recreation in Summer 2018.
Recreational opportunities are available throughout Oconee Forest Park and the adjacent Rec Sports Complex. Lake Herrick currently supports birdwatching and fishing. In summer 2018, Lake Herrick is planned to also include a dock for carry-in, non-motorized boats such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards; expanded walking trails; and a lakeside lawn for passive recreation.
Lake Herrick is a prominent feature within Oconee Forest Park, which serves as a living laboratory for research in the natural and social sciences. UGA faculty and students conduct research on hydrology, dendrology, water quality, aquatic ecosystems, visitor attitudes and behaviors, and more.
Lake Herrick and Oconee Forest Park function as an interdisciplinary outdoor classroom providing unique opportunities for faculty and students in visual arts, communication studies, ecology, engineering, forestry and natural resources, landscape architecture, and more.
Oconee Forest Park and the Rec Sports Complex are open to the public. Revitalization of Lake Herrick and surrounding areas will create new opportunities for healthy activity and community engagement, including a pavilion and lakeside lawn for community events.
Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration Activities
Lake Herrick Watershed Restoration is a multi-phased project aimed at promoting water quality and enhancing Lake Herrick as an amenity for experiential learning, research, and recreation. An interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, students and community members helped to define the project timeline, identify related research and experiential learning opportunities, and secure private funding.
The first phase will focus on improving water quality within the watershed by revitalizing the upper pond in Oconee Forest Park, which acts as a stilling basin to prevent sediments and pollutants from passing downstream to Lake Herrick and the North Oconee River. This phase will include removing more than 50 years of accumulated sediment, replacing invasive plant materials with native flora, and installing stormwater control measures, among other improvements. Phase 1 is scheduled to begin in fall of 2017 and be completed by summer 2018.
To enhance watershed quality and ensure the safety of all visitors to Oconee Forest Park, all pets must remain on-leash at all times, and pet owners are required to clean up and properly dispose of pet waste. Pet waste stations will be provided for convenience.
The second phase will expand recreational opportunities at Lake Herrick by improving conditions around the pavilion area. A lakeside lawn for passive recreation and events will be developed, and a stepped dock will be constructed for launching canoes and kayaks in the lake. A lakeside walking and running trail also will be installed in the second phase, along with native riparian plantings at the lake edge. Phase 2 is scheduled to begin in fall of 2017 and be completed by summer 2018.
Proposed watershed enhancements include stormwater improvements at Rogers Road Family Housing and Rec Sports Complex, as well as improvements to the two tributaries entering Lake Herrick. Additional landscape features are also envisioned around a renovated pavilion to further enhance the area for passive recreation, experiential learning, and environmental education.
Private support is playing a critical role in advancing the watershed cleanup and lakefront renovation. The Georgia Power Company—one of UGA’s key corporate partners—has donated $300,000 to support the project, and the Riverview Foundation also has contributed funds. The Office of the President—as the lead campus partner on the project—has allocated $250,000 in private resources toward the effort. Resources are provided by the University of Georgia, including ongoing operational support from Facilities Management Division, Recreational Sports, and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Brief History of Lake Herrick
Named for Allyn M. Herrick, former Dean of the School of Forest Resources, Lake Herrick was commissioned by the School in 1982 as a recreational resource for Athens and UGA. The area was popular for swimming, fishing, and boating. Campus and community events were held in the pavilion, and the Department of Recreational Sports staffed lifeguards and concession vendors. After 20 years of use, Lake Herrick was closed to swimming and boating in 2002 but remained open for fishing.
An interdisciplinary team of students, faculty, staff and community members – led by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Odum School of Ecology River Basin Center, and the Office of Sustainability - helped develop plans to enhance Lake Herrick as a public amenity within Oconee Forest Park and provide a respite amidst the hustle and bustle of daily life.