Pierce County celebrates Woodland Pond opening

Pierce County Councilmembers Shawn Bunney and Calvin Goings joined public works planners July 10 to dedicate the opening of Woodland Pond in South Hill.

The pond’s unique design provides South Hill residents a two-for-one benefit: recreation and flood prevention. During dry periods, the 6.36 acre site provides a walking trail and open space for public recreational enjoyment. During winter months the site is closed and functions as a stormwater detention facility.

Besides the half mile of 6-foot-wide trail and 4.5 acres of grass, the site includes parking space for two dozen vehicles on porous asphalt and gravel, landscaping with native plants, a decorative split rail fence and a neighborhood access point. Dog waste disposal stations with garbage cans will be added soon.

In 2003, an initial first-phase detention pond was constructed on part of the site while additional land was being acquired for the full-size pond. An additional 1.35 acres were purchased in 2005 and the full-size pond and site amenities are now complete. The Woodland Regional Detention Facility was being designed at the same time the South Hill Community Plan was being developed. The South Hill community noted the rapid disappearance of open space in the area and objected to the industrial appearance of public and private stormwater facilities.

Residents also asked Pierce County to site and design new stormwater facilities to encourage wildlife movement and habitat.

The pilot project that combines stormwater detention and passive public recreation resulted. Low Impact Development (LID or Built Green) techniques including porous asphalt trails and gravel were used to promote maximum stormwater infiltration. The Woodland Pond is unique in Pierce County in its ability to provide public access, passive recreation opportunity and wildlife habitat at a site that serves as the detention pond component of a larger stormwater management system. A typical detention pond is designed to hold a maximum amount of water in a minimum of space. To achieve this, ponds are typically deep with large concrete structures, long drop-offs and steep slopes. They are hazardous places that are fenced, locked, and posted “No Trespassing.”

Woodland Pond retains all the stormwater storage and filtration functions required of a detention pond, but without the concrete and steepness of traditional designs. Working with existing landforms, project designers created a shallow pond with gentle side slopes. The result is open space that is suitable for public access when the site is not being used as a detention pond, and a pond that is in no way compromised in its ability to provide stormwater storage capacity and infiltration.

The site provides walking trails in a neighborhood where paved road shoulders are prevented by roadside ditches and no other trails exist.

The split rail fence blends in with neighborhood aesthetics and allows wildlife access. Mallards, wood ducks, Canada geese and other waterfowl frequent the pond in the spring and fall. Native plants added to the site include aspen, birch, vine maple, fir and red twig dogwood.

The Woodland Pond pilot project was designed and constructed by the Water Programs Division of Pierce County Public Works and Utilities.