Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Apr 26, 2012

It is pretty obvious that spring has definitely sprung. Whether you have been in the woods or out in the fields, everything is green. Last week we went out into units A and B to see what plants were coming up so we could start scratching out a game plan for this summer and fall. As we surveyed the area we encountered the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Ugly

Since the dirt work is not complete and all of the water control structures are not in, we have let as much water pass us by as possible so that the contractors could get back on site and start working as soon as possible. This has meant a fast and early drawdown in several places, which typically doesn’t give you a desirable plant response. False aster, curly dock and cocklebur are those less-than-desirable species that have cropped up. These areas will need to be disked and could potentially be spots where we put our food plots this year.

The Bad

Across the pools we also encountered some perennial grasses, which can expand quickly and reduce the diversity of more desirable species. Reed canary grass and Bermuda grass both like wet conditions and are hardy grasses that have been present at Duck Creek for a while now. Multiple chemical treatments will be required to beat these plants back and keep these infestations in check.

The Good

In other places within units A and B, we were pleasantly surprised. Annual smartweed and millet have germinated where the soil was saturated a little longer because of a slower drawdown. These locations should produce a good amount of food in the fall as these plants continue to grow and produce seed later this summer.

Another pleasant surprise was in a few spots along our new scours. Now most of the restored sloughs look like what you would expect after recently being cut. They have bare-sided slopes and some ponded water in them. However, water has been at work in the meandering slough that replaced the ditch between units A and B. The flowing water has brought in and sorted out fine sediments and seeds. Across the moisture gradient a variety of plants from the seed bank have responded to the conditions and have already revegetated parts of this new stream channel. Sedges, spike rushes, plantain, pondweed and arrowhead are just a few of these aquatic plants. Seeing this kind of response illustrates how quickly wetlands can recover by allowing the natural processes to be restored.

As the plants continue to grow we are working behind the scenes to make sure the renovation wheels continue to move forward. We will meet with the contractors to see what their game plan is for next month. We will let you know once we have a better idea of what to expect in May. Thanks again for your interest and support at Duck Creek and our renovation effort.


Evaluating plant growth
Evaluating Plant Growth
Matt Bowyer and Keith Cordell evaluate the plant response as they plan for this summer’s management activities.


Spring scour
Spring Scour
Many of the cut scours have bare side-slopes and ponded water. It will take time for plants to become reestablished.


Aquatic plants recover
Aquatic Plants Recover
A variety of aquatic plants have naturally come back in sections of the meandering slough.


Hi Guys. According to the May 17th comment It is the next week and I cant wait to hear what the news is concerning the upgrades in unit a and Unit b/ Any GOOD NEWS???

Lance; The contractors are not being sued by the state.  There are always some unexpected situations which arise with any project and these are being dealt with.  Some adjustments to the original plans have been made and the final work plans are coming together.  The contractors have begun moving equipment back to the area and it appears that some immediate progress is forthcoming.  We will post an update next week.

heard that the original contractors are being sued by the state for digging out the sloughs to deep, using the extra dirt so they wouldn't have to haul in dirt to build burms. this may explain why they havent been back to finish the work when they have had optimal conditions. this is exactly why the cheapest dids are not the only factors to look at when choosing a contractor.

Weather permitting, how long will it take the contractors to install the water control structures once they are back on the area working?? I like to be as optimistic as I can about the dry conditions we are having but we are likely to have a wet summer this year and would hate to see the opportunity to get this done fade away till fall. Tell them contractor guys to hurry up!!! Lol

I believe we are all in the same boat, waiting and wanting the work to get done as soon as possible, especially with the dry conditions we are experiencing.  As you mentioned, the contractors have not resumed their work at Duck Creek this spring.  Hopefully, this will change in the next couple of weeks.  We have spoken to them and know they are trying to finish some other jobs and switch back over to the area.  However, when that will actually happen remains to be seen. 

It is nearly halfway through the month of May and upon a recent trip to Duck Creek I did not see any work in progress in the Unit A and B areas. Any new News to share? Any Contractors schedule for COMPLETION of their contracts? Can you tell us when the final water structures will be completed? According to the news we are in a near drought situation. Hoping for some great news!!!

Thanks for the info. I'm very optimistic that when everything is completed, we'll have some prime habitat to hunt. Thanks for all the effort and hard work your staff provides to taking care of this resource, so maybe some day our kids will be able to have memories of Duck Creek as i do.

I'm thankful for those of you who understand how this works and are able to make it do so. I rely upon my brother to decipher all of this when it comes time to hunt. If it weren't for him, I'd be out of luck. Again, thanks for keeping us all updated.

Bub; to produce good, productive and robust wetland vegetation we need to have control of the water, which we do not have at this time.  We were not able to hold the water in the pools nor draw them slowly down because the control structures are not all in place and the wells are still not operational.  The plant response to date is not ideal for what we would like to flood this fall.  When the wells are operational, the water control structures are in, and the levees have been seeded for erosion control, the pools will be partially flooded.  This will encourage some later wetland season plants to proliferate and have something resembling decent wetland habitat later this year.  We have planted about 30 acres of corn food plot in the NE portion of Unit A so far and will plant some more in areas away from the upcoming construction activity and in areas that won't flood when we partially inundate them this summer.  Since this area was not flooded last year, we are battling many undesireable and invasive species and it is going to take some time to get these under control.  We are attempting to get something good growing in all areas of Unit A and B but it is going to take another year with complete management capability to provide excellent wetland vegetation.  You will be able to hunt with your layout boat, but some of the areas will be sparse in vegetation.

Just wondering, will there be enough vegetation in Units A and B this fall to hunt out of a layout boat. would like some info on what kind of food plots will be planted this year. Thanks for your time.

Darin, The Luken Farm refuge will remain inviolate and not hunted.  It is important for a refuge to remain functional that a tradition of non-disturbance remain intact.  Rotating positions is very appealing to us, but we have yet to figure out how to maximize hunting opportunity, yet at the same time, be able to offer a quality hunt at each position.  We will have a plan in place and let everyone know later this summer.  Thanks.

Will the Lukenfarm remain a non-huntable refuge? And how likely is it that there will be a rotation of the hunting spots? Maybe hunt spots on at 3 day rotation. Thanks for the answers!!

Darin,The sum rough acres for the individual pools are about 970.  Each pool has differing floodable acres and we won't be able to measure actual water lines until all the control structures are in and we can actually hold water.  If each pool can be flooded to 80% capacity (arbitrary number), that would provide about 780 acres, 100 acres of which is the Luken Farm which will remain refuge.  That leaves about 680 acres of which about 45 exists in the central distribution channel.  We have not yet completed a comprehensive hunt plan which addresses access and individual hunt boundaries yet.  We will provide this information sometime later this summer.  Google Earth has good resolution imagery updated from 2/29/12 which clearly shows the project area.  Thanks for your continued interest and support of Duck Creek.

All in all, how many acres of flooded wetlands will there be in the A and B units, all together, when the water is captured in the fall and the water levels are at full wetland pool or has this been determined yet? Also, how much of this will be huntable? Considering both units are full of water. Thanks for the response!!

Thanks for the updates. I wonder if it would be possible to put together a pictorial showing the desirable as well as the undesirable plants for the area. Sounds like you guys are on the right track. Seems like there might be some lessons here for MDC areas that hold few birds.

Keith should smile in the photos.

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