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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Lily pads sit on the water during an open house at Camp Scott Wetlands on Saturday. The southeast-side wetlands are operated by City Utilities and open to the public only a few times per year.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Roscoe Nunn Sr., left, and Bud Hyde walk through the Camp Scott Wetlands during an open house Saturday. About 30 people visited Camp Scott, which is open to the public only a few times a year. They were able to take part in a botanical tour and learn how the wetlands work.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Plants at Scott Wetlands during an open house on Saturday. The constructed wetlands at Camp Scott are fed by a 1.7 million gallon underground storage tank and pump station. The underground tank collects storm water. The water then moves through a series of wetland areas before it enters the storage pond. A three-quarter mile path around the preserve lets visitors experience the natural beauty of Camp Scott without disturbing the habitat.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Guests pile into the Scott Wetlands during an open house on Saturday.

Sunday, September 24, 2017 1:00 am

Public gets chance to check out wetlands

DAVE GONG | The Journal Gazette

Nearly 30 people braved a boiling September morning Saturday for a hike through the Camp Scott Wetlands on the city's southeast side. 

It was one of a few times each year the wetlands, which store and treat stormwater runoff, are open for the public to enjoy. The area is fed by a 1.7 million-gallon underground storage tank and pump station located under McMillen Park, six blocks to the west. The tank collects stormwater from nearby neighborhoods during heavy rains, sending it through a pipe to the wetlands storage area.

Water then bubbles to the surface through a stone structure that resembles a natural waterfall. 

“This is a facility that is closed most of the time because it has some water features, it has equipment, we have to manage invasive species,” City Utilities spokeswoman Mary Jane Slaton said. “But we like to open it up now and then so people can come out, see the wetlands, experience kind of a nature preserve right here on the south side of Fort Wayne.” 

Visitors to Camp Scott could take a botanical tour and learn about how the wetlands work.

Construction of the wetlands, which was part of City Utilities' combined sewer overflow program, has helped reduce basement backups and street flooding in area neighborhoods, Slaton said. 

Camp Scott's history goes back to World War II, when the site was used as a training camp for the Army. The area was later used as a prisoner of war camp. When City Utilities took over the site in 2003, it was heavily wooded and home to large amounts of illegally dumped trash, Slaton said. The cleanup cost about $20 million. 

“Our biggest investment in creating this wetlands was hauling out junk,” Slaton said. 

Now, the land is home to countless native plants and animals, including turtles, frogs, bats, deer, groundhogs, great blue herons, nesting green herons, and once, a great egret. 

Although City Utilities does not have another public event scheduled again for this year, Slaton said the utility typically holds multiple events at Camp Scott each year. 

dgong@jg.net