Construction activity is well underway in units A and B. A couple of months of dry weather will facilitate a good portion of the dirt-moving aspect of the project to be completed prior to this year's waterfowl season. However, there are many other facets of the project which will prohibit flooding these hunting pools this year. Reestablishing electric service to the wells is one of the last components of the project and likely will not be completed until summer of 2012. Public use of the construction area is restricted until further notice for safety and liability reasons; however, some activities may be able to be accommodated as the project progresses such as squirrel hunting, archery hunting and dog training. Updated maps showing the areas accessible to the public will be posted at the sign-in areas.
Pool 1 reservoir was recharged to maximum capacity during the historic April rainfall. It is normal to lose more than 3 feet of water through the hot summer and early fall months, and it has been dropping fast. There should be enough water to flood pools 2 and 3 in November, especially if we receive a few significant rainfalls; but an extended period of hot, dry weather from now through October could drop Pool 1 to the minimum pool elevation. Full pool elevation is 346.0, and water starts spilling over the north road at 346.5, which we were above in April. Current elevation is 345.6, so we have already lost about 1 foot of water in the past three months. Current rate of loss is approximately 1/10 foot per three days, or about 1 foot per month. As the reservoir lowers, however, the rate of loss increases due to increased surface area and more abundant vegetation so the rate of loss in October is usually more significant than in July. Minimum pool elevation is 342.5, which allows us about 3 feet of water with three months to go to waterfowl season. Weather conditions and rainfall from here on out will dictate the amount of water available to flood pools 2 and 3.
So what does this allow for available hunting positions for regular waterfowl season? Depending on available water, Pool 2 and Pool 3 will begin flooding the first week of November. Pool 2 should have 17 positions available by opening weekend, but Pool 3 will experience a more gradual flooding. There will be four hunting positions available in Pool 3 the first week or two and 13 positions available by mid-November. The water retention gates for Pool 8 will be closed mid-November to begin capturing water from Ditch 111 and Ditch 2. Up to 40 individuals will be permitted in Pool 8 depending on the water level. The south Pool 1 positions, L3 and L4, will be available four days per week (Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday). Ducks Unlimited recently purchased and donated two new wetland parcels, the fishponds and the rice field which will provide two additional hunting positions. Dark Cypress Swamp will provide between two and six positions, depending on how much water is available. We were able to plant approximately 20 acres of corn food plots scattered about the east and west pools in 1-acre blocks, and the moist soil plants are looking good this year. All of these positions will be administered through the morning draw.
Teal season, early Canada goose season and youth waterfowl weekend opportunities will be available following statewide regulations (self check-in) as conditions allow. We may be able to allow some regular goose hunting in units A and B if the renovation activity has been completed by then. No reservations will be issued this year due to the unpredictable availability of water at this time.