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Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center, City of Orange, Texas

Located within the City limits of Orange, Texas, is a 250-acre private reserve. Shangri La is a very unique ecosystem including wetlands, mixed deciduous forest, cypress tupelo swamp, and an approximately 17-acre lake, Ruby Lake, which contains a rookery for herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills as well as habitat for ducks and other migratory birds. The Stark Foundation restored the botanical gardens and created a nature center for study and research. The Nature Center provides ecological adventures for students from pre-kindergarten through college. 

APAI worked with a team of architects, landscape architects, and contractors to improve the water quality within Ruby Lake through the use and enhancement of natural treatment mechanisms. Three main elements were incorporated into the design to improve water quality within Ruby Lake, including circulation and re-aeration of the lake’s water with a floating, solar-powered circulation pump; harvesting of the accumulated duckweed (the harvested duckweed is composted for use in the gardens as a natural soil amendment); and circulation of the water from the lake through a constructed wetland system. Additional services included the design of a stormwater treatment system for the parking area which utilizes constructed wetland swales to provide filtration and treatment prior to the discharge to adjacent natural wetland areas.