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Ashland students highlight little-known swimming hole

ASHLAND — Did you know Lithia Park has a swimming reservoir, and do you know how to get there?

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, with the help of two Ashland High School students, is asking those questions.

Students Samantha Boehnke and Sadie Shelton have created a draft brochure and map that the parks department could make into a final, printed version if the two discover that many residents don't know much about the reservoir or how to get there. The work is part of the students' senior project.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 20, people are invited to stop at the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department office at 340 Pioneer St. in upper Lithia Park.

Participants can pick up a survey as well as a draft brochure and a map to the swimming reservoir, which is a three-quarter-mile walk or drive away. There is limited parking on the road that passes the reservoir.

People are asked to drop their completed surveys in a drop box at the reservoir.

Participants will get a free Popsicle.

Swimming and picnicking are allowed from dawn to dusk at the swimming reservoir, which has a bathroom, drinking fountain and grass area, parks officials said.

There is no fee to use the area.

Kari Gies, an education coordinator for the parks department, said that without a map, people can have difficulty walking from the parks office to the reservoir because there are several different trails in upper Lithia Park.

"I've had people who've lived here a long time and have walked in Lithia Park who are still confused about where the swimming reservoir is," she said. "Let's have a good, clear way for people to find it."

Built in the late 1800s, the swimming reservoir once stored Ashland's drinking water. The much larger Reeder Reservoir was built later, higher in the watershed, and now stores the city's water supply. Both reservoirs are fed by Ashland Creek, Gies said.

Reeder Reservoir is off-limits to the public, but people can enjoy wading and swimming at the lower reservoir.

In recent years, the parks department has upgraded the swimming reservoir area with rest rooms and lawn. No lifeguards are on duty, Gies said.

As with the rest of Lithia Park, dogs are not allowed.

In the fall, the department will conduct an online survey about what help community members would like in order to use the parks system, Gies said.

For information and maps of the parks system, visit the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department's Web site at www.ashlandparksandrec.org. To reach the parks office by phone, call 541-488-5340.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.