The Riffles Return to Forest Park's Deer Lake


Note: This article first appeared in Forest Park Forever's Summer 2014 newsletter. Want to receive future newsletters? Become a member today!

Downstream to the east of Pagoda Circle, Forest Park’s Deer Lake has its burble back. In spring 2014, the City of St. Louis and Forest Park Forever completed repairs on the final of five riffles that had been eroding in recent years. In addition to the calming natural soundtrack riffles provide, they aerate the water, improving its quality for wildlife. 

This area of the Park was dramatically improved in 1999 during Forest Park Forever’s Restoring the Glory campaign: Deer Lake Drive was removed; the lake was reshaped and the riffles added; a recirculation system was introduced; and the lake was connected to the Park’s river system. 

Since the waterway and riffles are man-made, however, ongoing maintenance is critical. In recent years, FPF and our City partners repaired and installed underground cut-off walls and 
repaired leaks as needed. In 2013, we discovered a new leak in one of the riffles and a leak away from the riffles near a dead sycamore tree. This second leak saturated the soils with water, drowned the sycamore tree and created an unplanned marshy wetland area — not an ideal setting for an afternoon picnic. The team is continuing to pursue the source of this leak, though that hasn’t interfered with the full return of the riffle system.

“This Deer Lake project is a great example of why having a strong endowment is so essential for us,” says FPF President and Executive Director Lesley S. Hoffarth. “Visitors love this area, whether it’s part of their walking route or a place to enjoy an afternoon rest. Having funds available to tackle difficult but natural problems like this makes all the difference, both for the health of the Park and the experience of visitors. Joined by our City partners, we are happy to welcome you back to this special area of the Park.”