The vision for the University Lakes system is to be an unmatched recreational amenity for all people of Baton Rouge, one that offers safe and comfortable routes for walkers, runners, cyclist, and one that offers spaces for gathering and spaces for contemplation. To do so, the Lakes will be reimagined as a sustainable ecological jewel that increases water quality and offers habitat for aquatic and land based animals. The Lakes will become a place where people and nature come together, a celebration of the South Louisiana environment and a celebration of Baton Rouge Culture!
In 2016 the Baton Rouge Area Foundation sponsored a master planning process that set forth an ambitious vision for the University Lakes system. The planning and design work on the implementation effort engaged residents from near and far to define the detailed design to implement the vision set forth by the master plan. This process includes detailed field investigations of the lake's bottom and surrounding area, schematic design plans for the entire lakes systems and construction documentation used for the first phase of improvements to the Lake's natural systems and the recreational amenities that surround it.
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Artist Rendering, Does Not Indicate Final Plans
The goals of the University Lakes Project are:
Deepen the lakes to provide a more sustainable aquatic system
The current shallow lake depths provide for inadequate water movement, resulting in stagnation, temperature extremes, and overall poor water quality. This adversely impacts wildlife and leads to unsightly algal blooms.
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Provide increased flood protection for upstream and downstream communities
The current lake system provides little storage for rainfall within its watershed. Dredging the lakes is expected to increase storage for excess storm water which should reduce flood risk both upstream and downstream.
Enhance environmental performance to improve natural habitats
In most areas the current lakeshores provide minimal-quality habitats. Reshaping and replanting the shorelines of the lakes with native species will improve both aquatic and terrestrial habitats, as well as help clean storm water before it enters the lakes. These enhancements will benefit the American white pelicans and other migratory waterfowl.
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Improve and diversify recreational uses while improving safety for walkers, runners, and bicyclists
The lake system was built more for aesthetic reasons than for active recreational uses. The project provides an opportunity to address existing safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists around the lakes, and additional locations for outdoor recreation activities are desired to accommodate demand.