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Ducks, dogs and irises, oh my!

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If the web-footed residents of the Lewis and Clark neighborhood only knew the effort their human counterparts put forth on behalf of their pond, who knows what they would quack?

“It needs tons of help,” says Jon Wilkins of the eight-and-a-half acre pond behind Bi-lo Foods. In addition to ducks, the pond is home to red-winged blackbirds, muskrats, the Western Meadowlark, and an unidentified grey and white duck species that Wilkins describes as “weird-looking.” Wilkins, president of the Lewis and Clark neighborhood forum, has been championing improvements to the park for two years. The results, he believes, leave something to be desired.

“You can see how far we’ve gotten,” says Wilkins. He points to a cement bridge stretching over a ditch: “That’s the only success that we’ve had so far.”

Wilkins will likely see success number two shortly. He has been anxious for the city to install a second bridge to replace a rickety two-by-four on which pond visitors now cross the west end of the pond. Last Friday, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department received a permit from Fish Wildlife and Parks approving the necessary construction.

“I’m hoping work begins [this] week,” says David Claman, with Parks and Rec.

Tom France, another Lewis and Clark resident, is hoping otherwise. He would like Parks and Rec to draft a comprehensive plan and determine priorities for the duck pond before making isolated modifications.

Parks and Rec Director Donna Gaukler says that a plan will be ready for public input in the next couple weeks. Of the bridge installation, she says, “Our suspicion is that an increase to safety will be a good thing.”

But a bridge is only one of a long list of concerns about the park. Wilkins and Claman note that yellow irises now choke the cattails growing on the pond’s edge. Knapweed covers much of the surrounding land. Dogs have killed ducks and, recently, a resident goose. Wilkins, who visits the park about once a day, isn’t sure which improvement he’ll push next.

“I’m a person who likes to do one step at a time,” he says.

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