Teal season starts tomorrow. I am glad this summer is nearing the end of its relentless onslaught of heat and drought. It was a rough one. The corn food plots took a direct hit this summer from the extended dry period, and I have never seen such a ferocious crop of fall army worms. Some of the later planted plots of Japanese millet were stripped completely down to bare soil. The prolonged bout of hot, dry weather also provided excellent growing conditions for several invasive species, such as sesbania, joint vetch and everyone's favorite nuisance plant, cocklebur. It seems like we are waging battles on multiple fronts just trying to maintain some level of control.
Not all is bad, however, and there are some very good food resources on the area. The wild millet, sedges and annual smartweeds are as good as I have ever seen, which is incredible considering the stressful conditions of the past few months. A millet seed survey from the north end of Pool 2 estimates an average of 750 pounds of millet per acre. The wettest areas of Unit A have dried enough to allow tractors, bulldozers and excavators to disturb the soil in areas we can typically never access. These conditions were taken advantage of to remove some woody vegetation and willow trees from areas of next years planned construction activity and to promote the production of annual vegetation. While this prevented flooding early for this teal season, it will hopefully allow an earlier start next year, which should increase the opportunity for the project to be completed in one year. We did not install the rice levees north of positions 14 and 18 this year because it delays this area from drying out the following year. We want to allow access with equipment as early as possible next year. We have planted the entire northwest corner of Unit A in wheat and hope to see some goose use this winter. There has been a resident flock of Canada geese up to 260 birds already browsing on it; I hope they don't mow it all down. There are still a few more things we need to accomplish before flooding Unit A, such as survey work for structure locations and obtaining soil core samples to ensure scoured areas do not penetrate into permeable soils. As soon as we have accomplished these tasks, we will begin flooding Unit A. Barring any unfortunate problems with the wells and pumps, each pool will have enough water to hold birds by mid-October. Optimistically, there should be some water in 15/16, 14/18, 48 South and 19 before the end of teal season. Pool 1 is open to teal hunting on the north half. The water level has dropped 1 1/2 feet since earlier this spring, which has exposed some mud on the very north end and lots of stumps further south. Access is available on the east side. The west side road is only open up to the last footbridge into Pool 8. Unit A currently has no water except for a few holes in the borrow areas of the levee near 15 and 16 and the big hole in front of the east well. All access to Unit A is at the north from Z Highway. There is a self check station at that parking lot. All regular Unit A positions are available, whether they have water or not. The gates will be closed to Unit A beginning Oct. 15 to allow waterfowl to use the area undisturbed prior to the hunting season.
Pool 3 road is closed due to construction work and the timber harvest research project.Pool 2 road was opened until it rained. It is currently too soft to allow vehicle access. We are requesting help to get it in shape enough to allow it to remain open to the public. It may end up only being open during periods of dry weather.