LSU Lakes

The Baton Rouge Area Foundation dipped its first toe in the water today as landscape architects Kinder Baumgardner and Jeffrey Carbo began two days of meetings with University leaders and members of city-parish government to determine what changes community members would most like to see in the Foundation’s Master Plan to restore the LSU lakes.

The plan will be finalized in summer 2015.

Baumgardner is the president of SWA Group, the landscape architecture firm selected in July to lead project planning alongside Jeffery Carbo Landscape Architects. Both Baumgardner and Carbo are University graduates.

“What we need to do here is figure out what people really want this lake to be,” Baumgardner said.

Though the Master Plan aims to incorporate citizen suggestions like bike rentals and gateways, the primary objective is the restoration and preservation of the lakes.

The lakes are becoming increasingly shallow due to runoff from the surrounding area, averaging about three feet in depth. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, healthy lakes average at least five feet in depth.

“They’re trying to revert back to what they were – big cypress swamps,” Baumgardner said.

A 2008 Army Corps of Engineers report recommended deepening the lakes through dredging, a heavy-duty excavation operation to scoop out mud and sediment from a body of water. The Foundation’s upcoming Master Plan will build on the proposals suggested in the report.

Though the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, an organization that connects donors to non-profit causes and spearheads community projects, has raised $750,000 for the Master Plan, no money has yet been raised for its execution.

Mukul Verma, communications director for the Foundation, said part of the planners’ work is to recommend funding sources for implementation.

Open meetings will take place in the winter for the public to pitch their ideas for the Master Plan, and locals currently can give their input at thelakes.mindmixer.com.

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