ST. LOUIS – Crews are taking the first steps in a years-long project to restore and improve Forest Park’s lakes and river system.

Announced in November 2019, the $10.5 million project is focused on beautifying three of the park’s lakes, improving shoreline access and stormwater collection, adding visitor amenities and planting hundreds of new trees, all to make sweeping improvements to the region’s recreational crown jewel.

Private donors are funding the project, which is focused on the waterways on the eastern side of the park.

The project has four central sites:

  • Round Lake. The malfunctioning fountain will be replaced while keeping its historic character. The shoreline will be enhanced, bald cypress trees will be planted, and an underground water connection will be built to connect with the nearby river system.
  • New channel connecting the river system to Jefferson Lake. The Forest Park river system will be extended south to connect with Jefferson Lake. The project will add a cascade and gravel bar, picnic lawn and meadow, footbridge, visitor trails, and a seating area.
  • Jefferson Lake. An underground water connection will be built so water flows from Bowl Lake to Jefferson Lake. In addition, the lake will be enlarged and a new boardwalk will be installed, as well as a picnic pavilion, cascading waterfall and overlook. The fishing dock will also be replaced.
  • Seven Pools and Bowl Lake. The historic bridge will be restored. Bowl Lake will be dredged, deepened, reshaped, and refilled.

Crews are staking and treating areas around Jefferson Lake to eliminate unwanted plant species to prep the area for a sustainable seeded meadow. Once those plants are eliminated, soil restoration will be the next step in order to make way for native plants and trees. Fishing at the lake will not be affected.

On August 8, crews will turn their attention to Bowl Lake. They will be marking utilities and other boundaries around the lake ahead of scheduled dredging. Once the excavation begins, that work is expected to take between 30 and 45 days depending on the weather.

Construction was delayed these past two years due to the pandemic.

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