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Campus restoration moves forward

Hunt Mercier
Historic Lake Byron undergoes reconstruction that will enhance the allure of the front campus landscape.  Hunt Mercier/Printz
Historic Lake Byron undergoes reconstruction that will enhance the allure of the front campus landscape.
Hunt Mercier/Printz

Just two months after an EF-4 tornado hit Hattiesburg Feb. 10, 2013, plans to reconstruct the campus were already underway.

After much of The University of Southern Mississippi was damaged during last year’s tornado, Physical Plant,Tree Management Task Force, Department of Biology and Neel-Schaffer, Inc. began creating The Front Campus Landscape Restoration and Enhancement Plan in order to not only fix what had been damaged, but also to make improvements.

Among the numerous locations that are involved in the plan is the historical Lake Byron. According to the USM Foundation’s website, this area was the most heavily damaged by the tornado. After the debris left from the tornado had been removed, university officials discovered that the lake was deeper than they had originally thought.

As a result of the discovery, sand was added to the lake in order to create a soft, smooth surface on the bottom, as well as create a new depth of approximately six feet. Also, the perimeter of the lake was expanded in an attempt to make shelf-like areas such as habitats for small fish. Another reason for the expansion is to allow the lake to sustain biodiversity.

Michelle Shinall, assistant director of marketing and campus relations at Physical Plant, said upcoming changes to Lake Byron will include improvements to the spillway and a fountain being added to the lake to curb the growth of algae. Also, Shinall said accent ground lighting will be added along the sidewalks that surround the lake.

Shinall believes these improvements will make the campus more appealing while also creating more safety for local people.

“The renovated spillway will assist with storm water runoff for the entire campus, which will help keep the city of Hattiesburg from being overwhelmed during a heavy storm,” Shinall said.

The university website informs visitors that there are many different phases of the plan. The upcoming stages of this plan include the Hardy West and East Phases, the Marsh Phase, the Rose Garden Phase and the Highway 49 Phase. Past stages of the plan include the Gateway and District Phases.

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Campus restoration moves forward