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.
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.
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.
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.