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New North Park wetland dedicated

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Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010

The 1.8-acre wetland looks like it has been there for years. But looks can be deceptive.

As recently as March, "The Wahdo:gwas" wetland dedicated Friday by Allegheny County officials was a hole in ground.

Its name means "rising from the water" in Seneca, the language of the area's first inhabitants.

"I think it turned out well. It's greened up well, and this is a good site," said Scott Hans, Pittsburgh chief of the Army Corps of Engineers' regulatory branch.

Located along Pearce Mill Road at the northern edge of North Park, the wetland cost $810,000 to construct. It replaced one lost when the Pennsylvania Turnpike expanded between mileposts 31 and 38 about 3 miles away, a $113 million project.

The wetland lost to road expansion and its replacement in North Park are part of the north fork of Pine Creek watershed.

When construction eliminates a wetland, the law typically requires developers to replace the site with a wildlife habitat of at least the same size.

"It is gratifying that a byproduct of a turnpike improvement project is this wetland and nature sanctuary that will add to the serenity of North Park," said Turnpike Commission CEO Joe Brimmeier.

The North Park wetland required excavating 9,000 cubic yards of soil and sediment.

"We were out working here in the middle of the winter," said Steve Johnston of Meadville Land Service, one of several companies that worked on the project.

More than 4,000 trees, shrubs and willow cuttings were planted at the site.

"There's very little indication that anyone was working here. That's an indication of success," said Esther Allen, 92, of Ross, a naturalist who spoke at the dedication.

Located near North Park's nature center, the wetland will become an educational tool. A boardwalk running through the site should be finished by next fall.

"The boardwalk will get people right into the habitat. It opens up many educational opportunities for the public," said Meg Scanlon, a naturalist for Allegheny County who works at North Park's Latodami Environmental Nature Center.

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