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The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. The staff developed a small island in the center of the lake that is beginning to attract ducks.

The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. The staff developed a small island in the center of the lake that is beginning to attract ducks. (Rick Emert / S&S)

The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. The staff developed a small island in the center of the lake that is beginning to attract ducks.

The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. The staff developed a small island in the center of the lake that is beginning to attract ducks. (Rick Emert / S&S)

The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, located just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. Just two years ago, very little vegetation existed around the lake, making it difficult for native birds and fishes to survive.

The 279th Base Support Battalion’s Directorate of Public Works has spent the past four years enhancing Engineer Lake, located just inside the installation’s local training area in Bamberg, Germany. Just two years ago, very little vegetation existed around the lake, making it difficult for native birds and fishes to survive. (Rick Emert / S&S)

BAMBERG, Germany — As Warner Barracks is bustling with construction projects to improve roads, barracks and schools, the Directorate of Public Works is also taking steps to improve the habitat of a variety of animal and plant life that call the installation home.

Just a few years ago, Bamberg’s Engineer Lake was nearly devoid of any plant life. Dust from gravel roads and years of unit training had destroyed most of the vegetation, according to Michael Kempner-Strehlow, director of public works for the 279th Base Support Battalion.

Although unit training around it stopped in the 1980s, the six-acre lake was in serious need of help.

In the late 1990s, Warner Barracks environmental crews began studying the lake to determine just how to save it, said Konrad Albert, a DPW environmental specialist.

“We conducted studies about the native vegetation and soil, and planted the types of vegetation that were native to the biotope,” Albert said.

Crews also stocked the lake with fish, including minnows, carp and walleye, and created shallow areas where those fish could breed, said Hans-Jürgen Betz, chief of Engineering Plans and Services Division. However, no fishing is allowed in the lake, Betz said.

Two years and about $100,000 later, the lake is now thriving. Tall grasses and trees are growing around it, and marine plant life, such as water lilies, are growing in it, Betz said.

The now-plentiful vegetation is attracting ducks as well, Betz said.

While the improvements are sure to please nature lovers, the benefits of the improvement projects go beyond the impact it has had on the environment.

“We have developed a concept in which the lake will showcase a garden of the senses and Mother Nature’s elements,” Kempner-Strehlow said.

Special displays at the lake provide information on the types of plant and animal life that can be found in the immediate area.

Public works crews constructed a pier so that nature lovers can get a full view of the lake, which sits on the outskirts of the local training area and is a short walk from the elementary school and post housing, Betz said.

The lake also boasts a public picnic area.

The lake also serves as an educational tool, Kempner-Strehlow said.

“Since it is so close to the elementary school, it has become an outdoor classroom for the students,” Kempner-Strehlow said.

“It gives kids a better understanding of nature and the environment and the chance to interact with Mother Nature.”

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