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Officials revive iconic city lake: 'It's already a place that is drawing wildlife'

"It's going to be a great use of an underutilized area."

"It's going to be a great use of an underutilized area."

Photo Credit: San Francisco Recreation & Parks

San Francisco residents are eagerly awaiting the reopening of a lake that was dried up for the best part of the past four decades, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Middle Lake in Golden Gate Park was once the central part of a chain of three lakes that were dug out in the late 19th century, but issues like algal blooms, drought, and invasive species led to a loss of water that has persisted for between 30 and 40 years.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, it has been restored thanks to a $7.1 million project that makes use of an 18-inch clay bottom to ensure the water remains.

Now it's just a question of when it will officially open, with project manager Alex Schiknecht telling the Chronicle in June that the surrounding fence will be removed sometime in the middle of summer.

The 18-month construction project has restored 14 acres of land, and it is the largest landscape and renovation initiative in the park for almost a decade.

Despite not yet being open to the public, wildlife has already been returning to Middle Lake. A family of geese has settled on one of the lake's islands, and project leaders believe the area will eventually welcome around 350 species. 

"It's already a place that is drawing wildlife," general manager of the Recreation and Parks Department Phil Ginsburg told the Chronicle. "It's going to draw people as well — bird-watchers, walkers, picnickers and families who want to explore nature together."

Indeed, it's not just the water that has been restored. The surrounding plant life has also been given a boost, with eucalyptus plants making way for oaks, and the lakeside has had 10,000 plants added. The Chronicle reports bees and birds — which are crucial for pollination — have already been encouraged by the blooming poppies and lupines. 

Above all, it gives locals a green space to enjoy. Research has found that interacting with nature can help improve mood and increase happiness, and in a large city space like San Francisco, these areas can be tricky to find. 

"It's going to be a great use of an underutilized area," local resident Mike Gustenson told the Chronicle. 

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