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June 2013 Update on Summer Activities

Responding Vegetation

1 of 4

Making Mudflats

2 of 4

Flooded Sloughs

3 of 4

Little Bit of Everything

4 of 4

Published on: Jun. 12, 2013

As I drive across Duck Creek it is exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Things are moving forward, but the “To-Do” list doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. The plants and animals are responding to the habitat conditions, but there is still management to be done.

Critters and Plants

The cool spring has definitely benefited some species, both good and bad. We’ve noted the widespread bird use in previous posts. If you walk out into the clear shallow water right now, you will also see fish, frogs, crayfish, and a myriad of bugs and snails. The aquatic plants that were established last year are looking good and we’ve started to see evidence of them beginning to spread out on their own. On the mud flats we are seeing plants germinate that are good duck food like millet, smartweed, duck potato, toothcup and sedges. Over the last few weeks the staff have been planting trees in Units A and B in select locations. The species composition has varied but have included pin oak, overcup oak, swamp chestnut oak, burr oak, and cypress. Soon we will resume our efforts in propagating more aquatic plants like pickerelweed, thalia, and iris in the restored sloughs.

Controlling Aggressive Species

On the flip side, there are a few plants that we don’t like, that have also prospered this spring. Bermuda grass and Reed Canary grass can dominate wetland communities if not kept in check. There are a couple places we will need to knock them back to keep the upper hand. In Pool 1 the water shield leaves are floating on the surface, but the American lotus has not popped up and unrolled its large circular leaves. We want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck so we will probably wait a little bit before spraying openings to enhance the fishing access amid these emergent plants.

A month ago we had started drawing the water down in Units A and B, but recurrent rains continue to refill our pools every other week. This has eliminated any chance to put in any food plots at this point. The boards are out and we’ll continue to dry things up so that we can get out there to do some work this summer. Right now there is a lot of habitat diversity, which was one of the goals of the renovation. I’ve included a few pictures from the air that were taken earlier this week to show what it looks like from a bird’s eye view.

Infrastructure Work (Completed, Upcoming, and On Deck)

The spillway running north and south along Ditch 111 in Unit A has been completed by MDC staff and has weathered the last couple of rains. The two spillways running east and west along the north side of Luking Farm are on our list and will be done in September by MDC staff.

This weekend we had a temporary road closure as the water started to eat out the road on the north side of Pool 2. The location where this occurred was slated to be renovated in next year’s contract work. The road is back open for now, but we’ll need to address the damages this summer.

Little River Drainage District is moving on site to begin resloping the ditch banks of Ditch 1/111 on the west side of Pool 1. This means that the road may be temporarily closed in the coming weeks as work is under way.

Thanks

This is what we’ve been able to knock out in the last couple of weeks and where our sites are set in the next month. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and allow us to keep whittling things down at a manageable rate. Thanks again for the support and patience during the renovation.

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We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.

Comments

On July 9th, 2013 at 8:53am frank said:

Natural resource management deals a lot with trade-offs because of the altered and fragmented landscape that we manage fish and wildlife within.  While it would be ideal to have every stream corridor forested, best management practices along drainage ditches are to maintain grassy ditch banks.  The tree-free border allows maintenance access, reduces in stream debris, and reduces the large cost of repetitive tree removal over time.  Our responsibility is to preserve the water conveyance of the ditch for up and downstream neighbors, but we also have the opportunity to do something different.  Instead of the typical steep slopes that occur throughout the region because of narrow drainage easements, we have a little extra room to reduce the slopes along our ditches.  This helps to minimize erosion and potentially reduce the frequency for ditch maintenance in the future.   Along with our several spillways we are trying to work with water at the same time respecting Little River’s responsibilities and the property rights or our neighbors.

On July 9th, 2013 at 8:53am frank said:

I’ll answer the previous questions in two parts because it deals with two separate issues: trees and ditch work. The tree plantings are scattered throughout Unit A, but the bulk of the work is on the west side of the area in unit 23.  The staff planted 12,000 on a little over 40 acres, which was a pretty labor intensive effort.  Most of the planted trees are bare root seedlings and will be hard to see in the field for the first few years, much less from the road.  Early successional trees like willows, cottonwoods and ash are easier to establish because of their abundance and wind dispersed seeds.  We typically don’t have to worry about these species and at times take steps to control them. Hard mast trees like oaks and hickories are harder to establish because of their slow growth and limited seed dispersal from the parent tree. However, their mast is valuable to a wide variety of wildlife, which is why we have taken extra steps to include them. 

On July 7th, 2013 at 10:19am Anonymous said:

Can you tell us exactly where the new trees where planted in unit a and b? Which specific hunting positions like 8 10 15 18 23 received the most plantings? I did a drive around the areas and the only new trees plantings I saw were two pin oaks in front of the storage shed along the entrance road. Little River is destroying 100s of small willows along the ditch. Why cant some of those little trees be transplanted to unit a and b instead of being bulldozed under?

On July 6th, 2013 at 4:51pm Anonymous said:

heck yea jack...6 teal baby! nice job on the area btw...cant wait!

On June 29th, 2013 at 2:04pm MattB said:

Tom, The official word is only concerning teal right now as regular duck season dates and limits have not been set by the USFWS yet.  However I think a similar change in possession limits for regular duck season will be considered.  Possession limits for dove, snipe, and woodcock have also been changed to 3X the daily limits...Stay tuned!  

On June 28th, 2013 at 10:18pm Tom said:

"Also changing is the possession limit going from twice the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit." Is this for all species or just for teal?? For the 2013/2014 season, are you saying each hunter will be able to legally possess 18 ducks? I believe it should be more because many hunters travel and look forward to a week long hunt with their friends each year. One can only eat so many ducks! Please clarify. Thanks and keep up the great work!

On June 28th, 2013 at 4:41pm MattB said:

Teal season was just announced and a 16 day season was approved by the USFWS including an increase in the daily bag limit of teal from 4 to 6 this year.  Also changing is the possession limit going from twice the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit.  Missouri's teal season will run from September 7th through 22nd this year.  At Duck Creek, we will have the opportunity to offer more teal habitat to hunt this year than in years past.  Renovations in Unit A should allow us to offer a few spots to flood early and attract early migrant waterfowl despite some ongoing construction on the area.  At this time, it is too early to tell where that opportunity will be at for sure.  Construction to the headquarters building will begin sometime in July and that could limit our space for a teal draw, but again we will not know for sure until later this summer.  We are planning to have the lake open to teal hunting only this year.  We will post more details about teal season later in August, right now we have to focus on managing wetland habitat for this fall's migration!

On June 26th, 2013 at 11:20pm Anonymous said:

Any idea how many positions will be available for the upcoming Teal season? Will there be a morning draw for positions during Teal Season this year? Will the lake be open to Teal season this year? Are there any building modifications going on at Duck Creek?

On June 17th, 2013 at 12:41pm Darin said:

Hi Matt, Right now any food plot is better than nothing out there...some hunters do need something to hide in...that is much appreciated!! Glad you guys planted some trees out in the area also....would like to see some of those old willow sloughs out there again in the near future....Thanks for the response!!

On June 17th, 2013 at 10:52am MattB said:

Darin, thanks for the comment.  You are right, we need the area to dry out for many reasons.  IF conditions allow we will plant a some food plots, but as we get later in the year the idea of disking up food just to plant "food" is a risky proposition.  For example, the north end of Pool 2 that you see as you drive into Duck Creek is loaded with wild millet.  This was the case 2 years ago and it made the blinds on the north end of Pool 2 some of the best hunting in the Region!  As we approach July with wet conditions persisting it seems unlikely that we'll be planting many food plots in this area.  We'll work to get some areas planted especially out in Unit A, but for right now we are happy with the moist-soil that we have.  We have discussed the idea of using milo as a food plot due to the late season planting that we are anticipating.  We would d0 this mostly as a place for hunters to hide and less as a food source for ducks.  Typically when we plant milo it is hammered by black birds and they leave little seed for the ducks.  One of the biggest reasons we need the area to dry out is to allow us to continue to treat invasive species especially bermuda grass and creeping water primrose.  These two plants are thriving in these wet conditions and we need to beat them back so more desirable plants can compete.  The other reason we need these wetlands to dry out is simple...In the words of Dr. Leigh Fredrickson:  "They are wetlands they need to go dry, and I mean bone dry dangit!!!"  One of my favorite quotes from Leigh!  Thanks again for the interest Darin.

On June 14th, 2013 at 12:25pm Darin said:

The area looks good!!! now if it will just dry out so you guys can get some food plots in...:) Question: Is there a reason why milo or sorghum is not planted in the A and B units? And what is the possibility of planting some out there? Thanks for the response!!
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