Shakerag Hollow: damage from construction continues

I visited Shakerag Hollow this afternoon to make some sound recordings. A good thunderstorm blew in, giving us another inch or so of rain. Unfortunately, on my walk out, the intermittent stream near Green’s View was running the color of milky coffee. I walked up to the construction site and found water pouring off the bare ground, hitting a construction fence, then running underneath, and into the woods. The fence added about 30 seconds to the water’s travel time, so it would be technically incorrect to say that the barrier did nothing. Just next to nothing, in my opinion.

Disturbed by this sight, I diverted my return walk to look at the larger drainages. On one, the retention walls and sodding did seem to have slowed the rate of soil loss. The water running off was dirty, but not completely opaque as it has been. But on the largest drainage, water ran right through the rock walls, across the small ponds, and straight out into the stream leading into Shakerag.

So the streams of Shakerag Hollow, and the waterways into which these streams flow, continue to be severely impacted by the golf course construction that I discussed in a previous post.

Looking from the edge of the construction into the woods. This flows directly into the stream near Green’s View.

The main flow from the golf course leads to a series of waterfalls.

Water running under and through rock walls.

Muddy retention pit. Water flows directly out of this pit into the stream.

This water runs into the woods and a stream, slowed slightly by having to go under the construction fence.

14 thoughts on “Shakerag Hollow: damage from construction continues

  1. Robley Hood

    This is so disturbing and so disheartening. I suppose that “fixing it” doesn’t mean “fixing it” any more.

  2. Kat Z.

    Thank you for photographing, and reporting about, the ecological damage to Shakerag. It seems that the so-called experts who have promised to remedy the problem are worth less than the paper on which their credentials are printed.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Kat, I know for a fact that there are some great people trying their best to move this project in the right direction. The problem is that the damage was so bad to start with — huge areas of exposed soil — that it is very hard to remedy the situation. However, I hope that the engineers that the Univ has hired will step up their efforts.

  3. Tom Howick

    I know the golf course is a large project but they should have gotten their BMP’s for erosion control taken care of the last time you brought it to their attention…what is the hold up? We deal with this situation around the Atlanta area that impacts the local streams and our watershed for the upper Chattahoochee River all the time with constuction sites- — situations like this and photos that you have shared would have caused a work stop order until the correct BMP’s were in place. I am sure the State of TN has similiar controls and laws to prevent this….why can’t their great it right?

  4. Jack Wyrick

    Dr. Haskell, what do you feel is the best immediate solution, best mid-term solution, and best long-term solution for remedying this problem? It’s hurtful that this would be allowed to begin with, but I believe we should focus our energies forward toward a solution rather than continuing to solely mourn this awful course of water. And what can alumni do to help?

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      Good questions. My previous blog post a few weeks ago made a similar point about moving forward. I *personally* would shut them down and turn the area into something that serves the educational mission of the Univ or, failing that, that doesn’t cause this level of damage. The chances of that happening are about zero, I think.

      If we had a teacher on campus who *taught* as badly as this project has *built*, then we’d dismiss them after a few weeks (and that has indeed happened here). The same standard of excellence should be applied to construction projects as we apply to our classrooms. But there are complex contracts involved, so the builders and architects seem to have the Univ trapped, or so it seems to me, an outsider in this process.

  5. Minyon "Mickie" Bond

    The pictures of the water damage are awful. How long does it take for the forest floor to recover?
    Here in the West we have a different enemy but the water damage has the same result. It only takes a small campfire to throw a few embers and a couple of dry trees go up like torches. There are always a lot of dry trees because of the pine bark beetles. Thousands of acres can go before the slurry bombers and “Smoke jumpers” can gain control. Not a pretty picture with the evening news. Our “Monsoon” rains usually follow and the hillsides wash down. Lots of burnt trees come down too. Recently a two year old boy was swept away. There is always an attempt to find the people who disobeyed the no-fires order but they can rarely pay any substantial amount toward recovery. Last week I was up in the mountains and stopped and looked at an old burn (@10 years old). The argument continues whether it is better to allow natural burns or wait and set them when the understory thickens.. Too many people with too many demands……..again.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      The main damage is to the stream channel. It is buried in sand/silt, so will likely take many years to return to its normal state.

      The problems with fire in the west are very difficult to manage — although many of the ecosystems are adapted to fire (and require fire for healthy functioning), extended drought, beetle damage and long-term fire suppression create situations where fires can burn hotter than “normal”, essentially killing the soil and leading to massive erosion problems. Not good.

  6. Renee Hoyos, Executive Director, Tennessee Clean Water Network

    Call the Chattanooga office of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Ask for Dick Urban. Send him these pictures and tell him you want an investigator out at the site pronto. Tell him that you want to know the follow up for this site. Keep bugging him until he sends someone out.
    At a minimum, the developer will get a notice of violation of his stormwater permit, if he even has one. If this keeps up, keep letting TDEC know. Hopefully, you can get the developer to clean up.

    Sorry this is happening to you.

    1. David George Haskell Post author

      As I understand it, no laws were broken here: there was an approved stormwater plan, the inspectors sent in their reports, etc, so it is evidently quite legal to pour sand and sediment into streams as long as the paperwork is good. :(

      1. Renee Hoyos

        Nope. Their silt fences were down and their permit states that there will be no sediment escaping from the site. There are clear violations of their permit. Call urban.

        Sent from my iPhone

        On Aug 16, 2012, at 8:38 AM, Ramb

  7. Pingback: Stream bows | Ramble

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s