Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UWG Inherits Field for River Study

Hugh Brock is concerned about the rate at which fish are dying in a section of the Tallapoosa River.

He’s so concerned, in fact, that he wants a portion of the river running through land he has owned for many years to be studied to determine its ecological health.

Brock has donated 14 acres to the University of West Georgia to be used by the Geosciences Department as an outdoor classroom and laboratory.

Located off of Hays Mill Road in an area where Buffalo Creek flows into the Tallapoosa, the area will contribute research and hands-on experience to geoscience and biology students alike.

Dr. Curtis Hollabaugh, head of the Geosciences Department, believes that keeping an eye on the river and its ecological condition will be beneficial.

“The long term goal in geosciences is [to have] a place to put in some permanent waterfall monitoring on [the] Tallapoosa River,” he said. “Downstream of Carrollton and downstream the old landfill would be a good place to sample from. There is a deep slope down to the river, but there is some upland that would have other usages for the university too,” he said. “The land could [also] serve as a buffer to protect the river from development.”

Brock, an alumnus of the former West Georgia College and whose wife, Doris, taught at the institution, lives not far from the plot that he donated and used to farm the land.

Cody Phelps, a 2009 UWG graduate who studied biology, recalls monitoring the wildlife in the area as a student.

“We would take the fish we caught and catalog them [to] estimate their population and what proportion they represent in the fish population of the stream,” he said.

Donations of land like the Brock area become valuable learning tools for students wanting to break away from the confines of a traditional desk and board classroom. Studying the land can also provide important and valuable environmental information.

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