Augusta Canal Officials announce changes, new projects - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Augusta Canal Officials announce changes, new projects

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The Augusta Canal Discovery Center will be the new name for the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area's visitor center at Enterprise Mill, canal officials announced today. At a ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the former Interpretive Center, Augusta Canal Authority Executive Director Dayton Sherrouse revealed the name switch along with a new canal-wide signage program and logo update. He also discussed several other canal improvement projects due to roll out during the coming year.

The Discovery Center, which includes interactive exhibits, models, and videos on the canal's history, is also the departure point for the Canal Authority's Petersburg boat tours. "Over the past ten years, we've learned that most folks don't quite understand what an Interpretive Center is," Sherrouse explained.  "We think ‘Discovery Center' is a more welcoming, user-friendly description of what our guests experience when they visit."  He noted that since opening  on April 17, 2003, the Center and boats have hosted nearly 150,000 visitors.

Canal officials unveiled the Discovery Center's name on a new sign, the first of many that will be installed along the length of the canal as part of a comprehensive signage program, Sherrouse said.  The Canal Authority obtained a Georgia Recreational Trails grant last year from through the Department of Natural Resources to assess the canal's sign requirements, Sherrouse explained.  When fully implemented, the program will include approximately 100 directional, identity, regulatory and interpretive signs.

"We told our design consultant that we wanted a program to reflect our status as a National Heritage Area," said Sherrouse, "but that the signs should be cost-effective and easy to install and maintain."  The consultant, Jeffery Dawson of Dawson and Associates of Scituate, Massachusetts, proposes a program  of signs in several sizes using a brown background, white lettering and an updated version of the Augusta Canal logo in a warm tan color. Drawings of the sign concepts were on view in the Discovery Center after the ceremony.

Sherrouse also discussed several other current and upcoming canal projects. Work is progressing on bridges across the King and Sibley mills' tailraces to create the River Levee Trail. Groundbreaking  for new trailheads at Lake Olmstead and at water pump station at Riverlook Drive will take place within the next few months, he said.

A Confederate Powder Works history interpretive plaza is in the works. Six large descriptive panels, lighting and landscaping are planned for the area at the base of the Civil War-era chimney in front of Sibley Mill.  Sherrouse noted planning for the plaza has been underway for about 18 months. Dawson and Associates designed the interpretive panels; the plaza master plan design was prepared pro-bono by Woodhurst Associates Architect, whose principal architect, Robert S. Woodhurst III, serves on the Canal Authority. Installation begins this summer.  

Sherrouse briefly mentioned a study to determine if brown trout can survive in the canal  being conducted by high school science students from Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. If their data reveal trout can survive, the Authority will work with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to stock a trout fishery in the canal.

Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver also spoke at the ceremony. He congratulated the Canal Authority for their achievements and continued efforts.

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