June 2013 Update on Summer Activities
As I drive across Duck Creek it is exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Things are moving forward, but the “To-Do” list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. The plants and animals are responding to the habitat conditions, but there is still management to be done.
Critters and Plants
The cool spring has definitely benefited some species, both good and bad. We’ve noted the widespread bird use in previous posts. If you walk out into the clear shallow water right now, you will also see fish, frogs, crayfish, and a myriad of bugs and snails. The aquatic plants that were established last year are looking good and we’ve started to see evidence of them beginning to spread out on their own. On the mud flats we are seeing plants germinate that are good duck food like millet, smartweed, duck potato, toothcup and sedges. Over the last few weeks the staff have been planting trees in Units A and B in select locations. The species composition has varied but have included pin oak, overcup oak, swamp chestnut oak, burr oak, and cypress. Soon we will resume our efforts in propagating more aquatic plants like pickerelweed, thalia, and iris in the restored sloughs.
Controlling Aggressive Species
On the flip side, there are a few plants that we don’t like, that have also prospered this spring. Bermuda grass and Reed Canary grass can dominate wetland communities if not kept in check. There are a couple places we will need to knock them back to keep the upper hand. In Pool 1 the water shield leaves are floating on the surface, but the American lotus has not popped up and unrolled its large circular leaves. We want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck so we will probably wait a little bit before spraying openings to enhance the fishing access amid these emergent plants.
A month ago we had started drawing the water down in Units A and B, but recurrent rains continue to refill our pools every other week. This has eliminated any chance to put in any food plots at this point. The boards are out and we’ll continue to dry things up so that we can get out there to do some work this summer. Right now there is a lot of habitat diversity, which was one of the goals of the renovation. I’ve included a few pictures from the air that were taken earlier this week to show what it looks like from a bird’s eye view.
Infrastructure Work (Completed, Upcoming, and On Deck)
The spillway running north and south along Ditch 111 in Unit A has been completed by MDC staff and has weathered the last couple of rains. The two spillways running east and west along the north side of Luking Farm are on our list and will be done in September by MDC staff.
This weekend we had a temporary road closure as the water started to eat out the road on the north side of Pool 2. The location where this occurred was slated to be renovated in next year’s contract work. The road is back open for now, but we’ll need to address the damages this summer.
Little River Drainage District is moving on site to begin resloping the ditch banks of Ditch 1/111 on the west side of Pool 1. This means that the road may be temporarily closed in the coming weeks as work is under way.
This is what we’ve been able to knock out in the last couple of weeks and where our sites are set in the next month. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and allow us to keep whittling things down at a manageable rate. Thanks again for the support and patience during the renovation.