You could say last month was a little slow in regards to renovation activities. However, with the water going down (see pictures) and a few other items moving forward, we’ve shifted gears and are moving forward full speed ahead.
With the water going down we’ve been able to assess how the spillways constructed last fall have held up to the recent floodwaters. This was quite a litmus test. The conclusion is that they weathered the storm just fine and worked how they were supposed to. By providing a wide 260-foot gap, the spillways helped the water spread out and slow down. The floodwaters were able to move in, through and out of the pool across a historic drainage. These engineered structures are one strategy to work with large flood events and provide flood relief while retaining the ability to manage water levels for fish, wildlife and forest resources during the rest of the year.
As mentioned before, we postponed the bid opening to allow contractors adequate time to prepare their bids for Units A and B. Last week we opened the bid and had 11 contractors submit for the job. We will now go through the necessary steps to assign a winner and present this to the Conservation Commission at its July meeting. Hopefully, dirt work will start shortly after approval.
In the next couple of weeks MDC crews will begin working on the bridge between Pool 2 and Pool 1. This is an older structure that is in need of serious repair. During construction the area will remain open; however, traffic will be re-routed to Pool 1 from the south (from Highway 51 through Pool 3) and the north (from Highway Z through Unit A). Thank you again for your patience and understanding.
Little River Drainage District (LRDD) is back in the area and is working its way up Ditch 105 (between Pool 1 and 2). This scope of work is part of the Emergency Watershed Protection program. After LRDD cleans out the ditches we will be peeling back the bank slopes to reduce future erosion, which will reduce the need to muck out the ditch in the near future.
The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) is a federal program that provides financial match for projects exhibiting strong partnerships to restore and manage wetlands. The upcoming work in Units A and B, along with the new Ditch 1/111 water control structure, was part of our first NAWCA grant. We currently are working on plans for the next phase of renovation work and will be submitting our second proposal next month.
A variety of wetland plant species can germinate depending upon certain soil conditions, such as moisture and temperature. Managing for a certain suite of annual plants for foraging waterfowl is often referred to as moist-soil management. Once the floodwaters receded in the upper portion of Pool 2, we went out to see what was coming up. It appears that the conditions were right for a good stand of millet, which is on target with our moist-soil management objectives. Additionally, staff members are now able to get out in the fields and will be planting some food plots. The purpose of food plots is twofold. They provide additional food for migratory waterfowl, and the field work also provides the soil disturbance necessary to set the stage for moist-soil plants the following year.
While some folks may have just started their vacations for the summer, we are definitely not relaxing in the summer sun. After a slight delay from the flooding, the renovation efforts are back on track at Duck Creek. We’re encouraged by how our new structures have held up to the floods and are working hard to make the next phase a reality. Thank you again for your patience and understanding as we try to work around the construction while still providing access to the area.