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Stream Cleanup at Radnor Lake State Park


On Thursday, I went to Radnor Lake State Park to help clean up after the deadly and destructive flooding this area suffered in late March.

The heavy rains pushed construction materials, rocks, and gravel into one of Radnor's streams. This debris clogged the waterway and crushed the plants on its banks.

A gravel pile razed a fence in Radnor Lake State Park after flooding.
This massive gravel pile razed the fence.

Radnor rangers and staff need these materials for a trail improvement project. The current Lake Trail crosses a wooden bridge that was built in 1992 and was damaged in the 2010 flooding. After almost 30 years of service, it will be torn down this summer. Radnor is rerouting the Lake Trail and constructing three bridges for this new section.

To restore this stream and make these materials available to those working on the trail, we picked up rocks and shoveled gravel along with Ranger Steve and Ranger Will. We certainly got a great workout!

Volunteers working to clear debris from a stream in Radnor Lake State Park.
Volunteers picked up rocks and shoveled gravel.

It was so satisfying to see the fruits of our hard work. Compare the before and after pictures below.

After our work, Ranger Steve gave us a sneak peek at the new bridges. When they are finished, they will be topped with boards made from recycled materials, and the Lake Trail will then be accessible to wheelchairs. Ranger Steve hopes this new part of the trail will open around July.

One of the bridges being constructed at Radnor Lake State Park.
The bridges will make the Lake Trail accessible to wheelchairs.

Unfortunately, the stream was not the only part of Radnor damaged by the flooding. A road in the park had just been repaved two months ago, and the water from this latest flood eroded the ground underneath it.

Damage to a recently repaved road in Radnor Lake State Park.

I've learned that when you meet up with a Tennessee State Park Ranger you can't help but learn something new. Ranger Steve was a wealth of information. He showed us the Knotting Rattlesnake Root, a plant that is endangered in Tennessee and was first discovered at Radnor. Ranger Steve told us that he was the one who first noticed it in the park in 2002, but it wasn't identified until years later.

Knotting Rattlesnake Root in Radnor Lake State Park
Knotting Rattlesnake Root

Ranger Steve also told us that Radnor's aviary is going to get a new eagle from the American Eagle Foundation in 60 days. This particular eagle was injured in Nashville before the Foundation rescued it, and Ranger Steve noted that they specifically chose this eagle in order to bring her home.

We also learned that Radnor is conducting a study of its local beaver population. Every tree around the stream where we worked was tagged with a number. The park and its research partner are tracking which trees the beavers use to build dams; unfortunately, some of these trees did not survive the flood.

While we did not see any beavers, we did see plenty of wildlife: a bald eagle, a heron, butterflies, and dozens of turtles sunning themselves. A fellow volunteer even found a crawfish in the stream where we worked.

I was there to help out, but I got so much out of this volunteering experience. Thank you to the Friends of Radnor Lake for providing our supplies, and thank you to Ranger Steve and Ranger Will!


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