City Utilities recently hosted hikers and bird watchers at Camp Scott Wetlands in southeast Fort Wayne to view plants and birds and better understand the role of wetlands.
Since ownership is an integral part of the operation of City Utilities, such public events are rare. However, as part of American Wetlands Month, City Utilities hosted the May 22 tour “to recognize the importance of wetlands to our ecological, economic and social health”.
A three-quarter-mile walking track gave the property a close look at 3615 Oxford St., just west of Wayne Trace.
The property is extremely important to the neighborhoods surrounding McMillen Park, as it is part of a carefully designed stormwater collection and filtering system. The water is collected and stored in a 1.7 million gallon storage tank under McMillen Park, six blocks west of the wetlands. From there it is pumped to the wetlands where it bubbles through an artificial waterfall into one pond, then filters into another pond where it is slowly released into a pipe that brings it to the Maumee River several miles away.
Through the congressional delegation from Fort Wayne, City Utilities received $ 2 million in federal grants to help fund the wetlands project in the early 2000s. The total cost, including sewer separation in surrounding neighborhoods , amounted to nearly $ 20 million. In the process, a field that had been used for the dumping was converted into a nature reserve which helps reduce flooding in neighborhoods in the area.
Native plants and trees were specifically planted to help clean up neighborhood stormwater. Among the plantations are prairie grasses, sedges and rushes. The flowers include aster, echinacea, gaillardia, daisy, poppy, primrose, black-eyed Susan, and butterfly milkweed. Shagbark hickory, pine oak, red oak, poplar, ash and red maple abound in the reserve.
Camp Scott has become a favorite nesting site for owls, hawks, hawks, cedar waxwing, swallows, gray catbirds, eastern phoebe, red-winged blackbirds, indigo sparrow , downy woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and glittery woodpeckers. It also provides habitat for great blue herons, green herons, kingfishers, and the Indiana bat.
Before becoming a major nature reserve, Camp Scott had an interesting and colorful history.
During World War II, the property, which sits just south of the Pennsylvania Railroad “hub” in the Midwest, was chosen by the US military to be the training site for the men who would operate the tracks. iron of the army abroad. It was named after the first president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, Thomas A. Scott, who organized and operated the first military railroad during the Civil War. Seven battalions of men were trained there between 1942 and 1944.
When the training center closed in mid-1944, it took on an entirely different appearance. In September, machine gun towers and tall barbed wire fences transformed it into a prisoner of war camp that housed 600 German soldiers. Most of them had served in Rommel’s famous Afrika Korps. They filled a labor shortage in local industry and agriculture. Camp Scott closed six months after Germany surrendered and the prisoners were returned to Germany on November 16, 1945.
After the war, the camp was seen as an accommodation site for returning GIs. The barracks and dining hall were converted into a temporary shelter by the local housing authority and residents paid $ 22.50 per month, excluding water and sewage. Camp Scott deteriorated over the years until 1977 when the last of the POW’s frame and tar paper buildings was demolished.