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Transitioning

Aquatic Propagation in Scours

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Egrets Foraging in Created Scourt

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Mulch Added to Dry Scour

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Dry and Disked Scour

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Published on: Jul. 27, 2012

As the construction contract comes to a close, we’ve been assessing the habitat conditions and moving on to habitat management. In the months to come there will be many transitions.

Current Habitat Transitions

There has been a lot of disturbance in Unit A in the last year: disks, dozers and pans moving dirt here, there and everywhere. The weather has also been variable ranging from wet, dry, to downright dusty. These factors haven’t allowed us to have very much control on the plant communities in Unit A; however, that hasn’t stopped us from trying to give things a head-start.

Putting in Plants

Wildlife and Fisheries staff have been working together to grow aquatic plants in a nursery and then plant them in some of the scours that have retained water through the summer. Granted, there aren’t too many places still holding water this summer, but we have a few locations where you can still get your boots wet. This week we put in another 450 plants to help the vegetation get a foothold and expand over time. These scours will provide deeper water habitat and be available to early migrants in years to come.

Wildlife Taking What They Can

Scattered showers have also ponded a little water in a few of our other shallow sloughs. Despite the lack of vegetation, we’ve still seen wildlife use in these areas. Egrets have been picking off tadpoles and small fish as the waterline begins to recede. It is also apparent from the footprints that the raccoons have been having a nightly crawdad buffet.

Prepping the Site

In other spots, the scours are as dry as a bone. You may remember that it was about this time last year that we baled up some of our smartweed and millet before the dirt work began. We’ve started to unroll these bales into the dry scours to add organic matter back into the system. Hopefully, this will help these disturbed scours recolonize with bugs and plants a little bit quicker. Another thing we have done is incorporate a little bit of nitrogen back into the soil so that if plants do get a little shot of water that they’ll have the nutrients necessary to start growing.

As you can see, just with these scours there is a lot of variability. The same goes for the rest of units A and B as the vegetation transition depends upon the degree of disturbance and soil moisture conditions. Once we get the wells on, there will be another transition as we learn how the area will operate under a new flood regime.

Shifting Staff

The plant community isn’t the only thing that has begun to shift over the summer. Some of the support staff for this renovation project has also changed. Our permit and policy coordinator has retired, and our engineer is now doing similar work for Ducks Unlimited. Their help over the last few years has been greatly appreciated, and we wish them the best of luck. The new staff has already spent quite a bit of time on the area and is getting acquainted with the project. As we tie up the loose ends in units A and B, we’re looking forward to hitting the ground running next summer and beginning to transition back into management.

Thank you again for your interest and patience as we’ve moved through this renovation project. Things are moving forward slowly but surely, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Key Messages: 

We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.

Comments

On August 3rd, 2012 at 10:38pm Bandtaker1 said:

Any progress deciding where to locate any parking lots for the new A and B units? I would like to suggest one parking spot be located along the road going into where field blind 41 and 43 were located. Just on the south side of that road cut far enough into the treeline (to hide camoflage the parked vehicles) next to that new cut out area. Would make hunting 54 and the new spot extremely accessible!!! Hope somebody there agrees!!!

On August 2nd, 2012 at 1:49pm JFox said:

I'm really looking forward to seeing how the unit transitions once the contract is fully complete and flora/fauna management resumes at normal pace. Very excited to see the new and improved units A and B, they are probably unrecognizable from what they were a year ago. Thanks for the post!

On August 1st, 2012 at 8:18pm Bub said:

Will there be any early season Canada goose hunting allowed in Unit A this year ?

On August 1st, 2012 at 10:11am frank said:

Previously, the showers were pretty scattered and insignificant.  However, last Thursday and Friday there were some pretty good storms that dropped more than 2 inches across the whole area.  This definitely wetted things down in Unit A, which had started to turn into a dust bowl.  This recharged the scours and will help out the aquatic plants.  Keith has had the gate across Ditch 1 up all summer and had been slowly stacking water in the ditch. This weekend it was finally up enough for him to divert a little into Poo 1, raising it a tenth.  For the short term, the ditch is up enough now that any extra water will be added into Pool 1.   Thanks for the question.

On August 1st, 2012 at 9:59am Anonymous said:

have seen several storms in proximity to Duck Creek in past week. Just wonder if you had received any mesuarable rainfall recently.

On July 31st, 2012 at 10:36am frank said:

Bill Goodwin served in this position and made sure we followed environmental compliance regulations and filed our 404 permits.  He also made wetland determinations and coordinated with the other regulatory agencies like the US Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and USFWS.  He did a lot of stuff behind the scenes and will be missed.

On July 31st, 2012 at 9:38am Anonymous said:

Policy coordinator has retired ? Who would this be ? deecee darrow ?

On July 30th, 2012 at 4:26pm frank said:

We are making plans to hunt Units A and B this year, but like Keith said last week, we are still waiting for the completion of the electric control boxes to the wells and final connection to the electric supply lines.  Unfortunately, I haven't seen any progress on this front in the past week.  Hopefully, this can be resolved in the next month.  In the mean time, as you can see in the post, we are making progress where we can.

On July 30th, 2012 at 4:15pm Anonymous said:

So will we be able to hunt these units this year?
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