News

Foundation established for Teichert Ponds’ future

By LAURA URSENY – Staff Writer, Chico Enterprise-Record
Posted: 11/26/2011 09:20:26 PM PST
Dick Cory, a member of the Teichert Ponds Restoration Foundation, looks at Teichert Pond No. 2
CHICO — When retired Chico science teacher Dick Cory dies, he would like contributions from friends and family to go to a project near and dear to his heart: the Teichert Ponds Restoration Foundation.

Cory, who taught junior high and high school science for 36 years, says there’s good reason to be generous to the new foundation that can help the city handle the 50-year-old ponds that were gravel quarries for Highway 99.

“The ponds offer so many options for Chico,” said Cory, who has spent much of his life interested in the ponds, and says the foundation can help with a long list of needs and wants. He’s anxious to get started.

The city has been dealing with Teichert Ponds for decades, paying for a plan that city planner Brendan Vieg calls “a replumbing project” for the ponds.

A plan for draining and reconfiguring the ponds has been created, the California Environmental Quality Act process is finished and the necessary permits obtained.

It’s just waiting for money.

The plan, Vieg points out, has provisions for more than storm-water retention. There’s a lot about recreation and open space, wildlife viewing and trails.

That’s what Cory likes.

Vieg said Cory has been instrumental in gathering citizens and interested parties to talk about the ponds, which were a gravel quarry for the construction of Highway 99, and were named for the highway construction company.

When the gravel was removed, the water table was accidentally hit, and three springs

began to continually fill pond one, flowing over into two other ponds.

There are actually three separate ponds, but vegetation disguises the boundaries. Besides their detention duties, the ponds also get fresh water from springs, and there is spillover when water is high in Little Chico Creek.

In the fall and winter, the ponds become a resting area for migrating birds, but look closely and wildlife is abundant year-round, from turtles and fish to frogs and beavers.

Cory’s wife was involved in studying the ponds’ water quality in the 1960s, and Cory gained an appreciation for the area. As a science teacher, he also found it a great field trip for his classes.

“I just got turned on by the value of it as an education facility.”

The city has applied for two grants equaling about $2.6 million for the funding improvements suggested by the plan. The city also has about $350,000 that could be used as matching funds, and long-term maintenance of the ponds.

The study indicated the ponds should be realigned for better storm drain efficiency, and made suggestions for improving recreation and living lab use for schools.

“The trails are pretty well established between the ponds, but there are plans for signs, kiosks, picnic tables, maps, information about the wildlife, etc.,” said Cory, who mentioned the nonprofit foundation as a place to accept contributions for the project.

The parking lot between Kohl’s Department Store and Highway 99 is the official entrance to the ponds, being on land that the city bought from the retailer.

However, the recently completed Highway 99 Bikeway plays into the configuration as well, with a lighted, paved path running north to south down the ponds’ west side.

The city has plans for two bike bridges on either side of Highway 99 to cross Little Chico Creek.

There’s a lot coming together, said Vieg.

“It’s like Verbena Fields; there are benefits to storm-water retention, but there’s also options for an outdoor classroom and improved recreation, safer access and bike movements,” said Vieg.

Verbena Fields on Lindo Channel in east Chico was also a Highway 99 quarry, and has been renovated into a natural park.

The city paid for a brochure to announce the foundation, directing contributions to the nonprofit North Valley Community Foundation, which is managing the account.

Vieg said Teichert has been approached to help with the project. It has a foundation, but the economic downturn has taken its toll. Vieg hopes something might develop with the company in the future.

Teichert “sees it as something that doesn’t portray them well, but we see it as a little oasis,” said Vieg.

Vieg said he hopes to hear about the grants early in 2012. Before any action occurs, the city would be alerting the community and neighborhoods, and talking more about the project.

For information about the foundation or the citizens’ group on the ponds, Cory can be reached at 342-4159 or Vieg at 879-6806.

Staff writer Laura Urseny can be reached at 896-7756 or lurseny@chicoer.com.

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