Environmental Practicum students collaborating with Watershed UGA


Georgia Law Environmental Practicum students have joined forces with an interdisciplinary group, also known as Watershed UGA, which aims to create a culture of sustainability focused on campus waterways.

On April 20, the group visually "daylighted" a campus stream that flows underground by constructing a stream bed with native riparian vegetation on the lot behind Joe Frank Harris Commons to mark Lilly Branch’s underground course. They also utilized graphics to represent its underground course in other areas, site-specific art installations and educational signage.

Second-year students Spencer S. Haley, Maria-Ximena Vasquez and Emily C. Wyche have worked all semester to bring attention or "daylight" to the streams that run under UGA's campus, while also educating and motivating more sustainable watershed practices. Components of their outreach project included: a new rain garden that was funded partially by a crowd-sourcing campaign and largely by the UGA Grounds Department, a mural in the East Campus Village tunnel and geocache box placement in various areas on campus important to the underground streams.

The rain garden was designed by UGA student Reid Ferraro, who is also an employee of the grounds department, in the spring 2016 semester.

The students also developed an open design competition for fall 2017 to recruit interdisciplinary student teams to design “daylighting” projects for other parts of campus.

According to Wyche the law students worked with a number of clients, including Athens-Clarke County (who assisted with the geocaching), the UGA Grounds Department (assisting with the rain garden), Watershed UGA and Campus Architects. “We did legal research on liability and permitting issues related to these efforts as well,” she said.

Environmental Practicum Director and UGA Odum School of Ecology Director of Public Service and Outreach Laurie A. Fowler (J.D.’83) said that without connection to these streams, it is hard for students to develop a sense of stewardship of this valuable resource. "However, if our streams are more present and visible, we can garner more support for their continued protection and restoration."

Other Environmental Practicum students this semester focused on a different Watershed UGA priority by conducting substantial research on legal issues relating to the liability of using Lake Herrick for recreational purposes and the restoration of the lake, which has been off limits for swimming for many years as a result of pollution. Additional groups of law students researched legal issues relating to a variety of water and endangered species matters for several federal agencies and national nongovernmental organizations.

View photos - http://law.uga.edu/photo-gallery/environmental-practicum-students-collaborate-watershed-uga-42016