Dr. Chester “Skip” Watts has been awarded an additional $12,000 by the Mary Moody Northen Endowment to continue his work helping to restore the depleted lake at Mountain Lake Resort in Giles County. 2013-2014 marks the third year of this project that has seen a great deal of success as the lake has recently started to re-fill.
The project began in 2011 as the lake, which has been known to disappear for decades throughout its recorded history, had been reduced to little more than a small muddy pond. Famous for the movie Dirty Dancing, Mountain Lake had not seen regular water levels since 2002.
Dr. Watts lead a team of students and fellow geologists to first research the cause of the slow leak by exploring the area where the water appeared to drain and then devising a plan to help plug some of the gaps to improve water retention.
"The natural piping holes are about two feet long by a foot wide. They're sort of rectangular shaped. Basically what they are gaps between rock blocks that came down as part of the landslide." Watts said at the time of the work to close the leaks.
Since the effort to utilize natural material in slowing the leaks earlier this year, the lake has seen a remarkable resurgence, rising to approximately half-full pond by autumn of 2013. The process should take about two years to completely refill the lake.
The story is both a natural conservation success as the lake is an important ecosystem for the area, but also an economic engine for Giles County and the region. Coinciding with Dr. Watt’s work, the resort owners have made substantial improvements to the property in the hopes of revitalizing a waning tourist business.