Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

August 2011 Progress Report: Units A and B Renovation

Aug 25, 2011

Current Conditions and Progress

Conditions were extremely dry at the end of July when the dirt work began in Units A and B. It was great to get things moving forward. Over the last few weeks, the isolated thunderstorms have knocked the dust back down and allowed the soil to pick up some much needed moisture. Throughout the month, the contractors have worked on reconfiguring the levees and water delivery system in Units A and B and have made good progress. Cross-levees and their adjacent borrow areas have been flattened. Scours have been cut in the interior of the pools and broad contour levees have been built along the natural grade of the land.

They will continue to work on Units A and B over the next couple months as long as the weather holds. Hopefully, they can finish up before conditions become too wet later this fall. As we mentioned before, the electricity will have to be redone and hooked back up to the wells after the dirt work is done. This is slated to be done next summer.

Added benefits

Renovation work on Duck Creek has been discussed for at least 20 years. Here at the office, we’ve found plans from 1993. It is an exciting time to finally see the work being put on the ground. We will be able to manage our water more efficiently as we put it into the pools and take it off land. We won’t have to flood areas too deep (Blinds 16 and 15) and will be able to flood other areas that have been too high and dry in the past (northwest corner of Unit A). Additionally, we will be able to extend the amount of flooded ground to the west in Unit B. In locations where the old goose pit blinds 37, 52, and 54 used to be, we will be able to flood on a seasonal basis because of two additional wells. Additionally, we will be in a better position to capture rainfall and water coming in from the surrounding watershed.

This old house

I think of this effort much like a house renovation. You typically don’t make a cabin into a mansion, but you work with the space you have and focus on the nagging problems that have haunted the structure for years. When it is all said and done, we will be able add a few additional hunting positions, but the real difference will be in the quality of habitat that we will be able to provide on a seasonal basis, along with the reduction of maintenance and repair costs during flood events.


Thank you for the opportunity and your patience to put these plans on the ground in Units A and B, along with the rest of the work at Duck Creek.


Photo of dirt pan construction at Duck Creek CA.
Dirt Pan Construction


creative scours restore wetland sloughs at Duck Creek CA
Slough Restoration


Photo of where the levee and adjacent borrow pits have been leveled,
Removing Cross Levees and Adjacent Borrows


Broad contour levees's gentle slopes reduce erosion and wildlife burrowing
Broad Contour Levee


Restored wetland topography
Distribution Slough


I plan on including an image of the DU acquistions with future postings. We've already got one up from a post we did this summer.  Check out the July 13, "Short- term Fishing Opportunity" post.  The map highlights one area on the east side of Pool 2.  It encompasses the fish ponds and the "L" shaped fields to the west and south.

Outstanding educational informative answer. So why did the person who was discing in the scours at Dark Cyprus cut the only willow along the edge of the 1st scour located on the east side going down the road? It was in a perfect location (the east side of the pool) to keep the early morning sun off a waterfowl hunter hunting that spot. It was 5 foot tall and several feet above the high water mark in that particular scour. Can you post a photo or aerial photo of the two new hunting positions recently donated by DU?

Are willows a desireable plant species at Dark Cypress? Are they desireable in any seasonal wetland?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  The black willow (Salix nigra) is the most common willow we see in this region of the country.  It is a pioneering species and establishes itself very well on newly disturbed wetland pools. It grows fast and can quickly populate the entire pool if it is not set back with disturbance.  It is however, a natural part of the wetland plant community and has redeemable qualities.  Willow communities provide structure and windbreaks which can offer some thermal cover for waterfowl during harsh winter conditions as well as provide hiding places for waterfowl hunters.  Willows are a host speices to a wide array of invertebrates such as the pollinating insects (bees, wasps, flies, moths), a number of beetles, aphids, thrips and leafhoppers and many others.  The bugs, willow leaves and woody structure provide habitat for vertebrate species such as birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. The birds associated with willows in wetlands are numerous.  They are very important to a number of warblers, vireos, blackbirds, grackles, sparrows, sapsuckers, turkeys and ducks.  Ducks often feed on willow buds and catkins in the spring when other sources of food are scarce.  Deer and snapping turtles occasionally browse on willow leaves and the Western Lesser Siren (an aquatic salamander) routinely aestivates (goes into a dormant state) beneath willow roots during the dry periods of summer.  Beavers rely on willow bark for food and branches for constructing their lodges. It is a struggle to balance the right amount of anything in wetland mangement and it is near impossible to keep the scales from tipping one way or the other.  The key is too never let them tip too far in either direction.

Do you consider willows a desirable plant species for dark cypress?

Discing is a tool we use to set back natural plant succession which prevents perrenial plant species from outcompeting desireable annual plant species.  We often find ourselves balancing what management we would like to to get done with what we have time to get done.  More often than not, the weather dictates the window of opportunity we have to accomplish our objectives.  There was rain in the forecast and other projects which required attention later in the month so we took advanatge of the time we had the equipment on site.

Was it absolutely necessary to disk plow cultivate around the scours in Dark Cypress after the start of Teal Season? There was not enough water there to start with and the disking stole another 2 to 3 inches of depth. What purpose did that serve?

Yes and yes.  Dark Cypress will be self check during Teal and Early Goose Season.  We have a new box, but it is in the same spot at the first parking lot.  During the regular Waterfowl Season, positions will be administered through the morning draw.

Hi. Will Dark Cypress be self check in again this year? Will the sign in box be located at the first parking lot? Thanks in advance!!!

At the beginning of August we posted this fall’s hunting outlook for Duck Creek.  In the article, we mentioned the new wetland parcels donated by Duck Unlimited by Kinder.  This will add two new positions this fall.  If you missed the post, feel free to check it out.

Despite the dry conditions, there are some pockets of huntable water on Dark Cypress.  A few of the scours on the east side are still holding water and there is an area of water along the south and west levee.

Is there ANY water in Dark Cypress? East side west side???

Will there be any new hunting positions this year, i seen flags in the field on 51 at kinder

The blinds A1 and B1in Pool 2 will be repaired as needed and comouflaged later this month.  They will not be removed.

Hi. Can you tell me if the Pool 2 blinds A1 and B1 are being repaired replaced or removed?

As requested, we've added a couple more pictures to the slideshow to illustrate the work being done in Units A and B.  Thanks for the interest.

Could you post more pics of the work in progress?

You may remember that last August during the drought we made a pretty good dent on the willows in Unit A around blinds 8 and 13 and along the borrow.  This work was in preparation for the current construction work.  By removing them last year we saved ourselves a step and allowed the dirt pans to get into the area faster.    The bulk of the remaining willows in this section haven’t been touched this year.  In Unit B we have removed several of the old tree lines that had grown up along the neglected field ditches.  This was necessary to fill in the old ditches, flatten adjacent spoil piles and tie the drainage into our restored slough system.  The willows were there because of the moist soil conditions and lack of disturbance.  We have no problem of getting them to germinate and grow on Duck Creek.  Granted, I understand your concern about cover.  As with any wetland construction work the plant community may take a little bit to respond.  However, we will be mulching and fertilizing the soil (Dirty Deeds post), planting aquatic plants and trees, and manipulating water levels to promote natural regeneration of plants to revegetat the pools both for waterfowl habitat and hunter cover in the following years.  Hope this answers your question and your concerns.  Have a good weekend it looks like it is going to be gorgeous.

Were there any willow trees left in Unit A for cover?

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