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Summer Break? Not at Duck Creek

Tweaks to Unit A

Published on: May. 23, 2013

Over the past few months we’ve laid out our plans, checked workloads, and set our goals. Weather permitting, we will put boots on the ground and continue with the wetland renovation at Duck Creek this summer. A couple of these projects still have a few procedural hurdles to navigate through such as Commission approval and the bid process, but other jobs can move forward and keep us plenty busy in the meantime. The good news is, that for the first time in a couple years, I don’t foresee the summer work hindering the number of waterfowl hunting positions we will be able to provide this fall in Units A and B or Pools 2 and 3.

With the good news out of the way, here are the nitty-gritty details.

Dirt Work

We have some minimal dirt work in Units A and B this year. This involves some work that couldn’t be a part of the original contract. Additionally, there a few fixes and some tweaks that will be made since we’ve had a year to see how the new wetland design operates. Overall, these changes won’t be apparent to the average observer, but will benefit the overall function and maintenance of the area.

Later in the summer, we will be doing renovation work up at the Greenbriar Unit. This will be similar to what we’ve done in Units A and B by taking advantage of existing topography, restoring sloughs, and removing obstructions to sheetflow. Unlike Units A and B this area will still rely only on precipitation and the Castor River to opportunistically flood habitat.

Dirt work on the fishponds, field 1, C blind, and spoil pile removal in Pools 2 and 3 will occur next year.

Plant Work

With the dirt work coming to completion in Units A and B, we will focus on our plant management and restoration in key locations.

Trees:

  • Higher elevations along McGee Creek: These trees will increase the riparian zone which is important for streambank stabilization and water quality.
  • Higher elevations along the perimeter road: These trees will help provide a visual buffer to minimize the disturbance traffic has on migratory waterbirds.
  • Small plantings within the pool: Water tolerant trees will enhance future structural diversity, provide wintering waterfowl with thermal cover, and establish clumps of hunting cover for fall hunters.

Aquatic Plants

  • In other locations, in Units A and B we will continue the aquatic plant restoration within our flooded sloughs that we started last year.

Moist Soil Management

  • We will continue our drawdowns and monitor our annual plant production and keep the undesirable species like cocklebur, false aster, reed canary grass, and Bermuda grass in check.

Food Plots

  • In locations where disturbance is needed to set back success and promote annual plants next year, food plots will be planted to provide food and cover for this fall.

Area around Pool 1

Pool 1 will also be an emphasis area this summer.

Ditch Work

  • Little River Drainage District (LRRD) will be coming back in and resloping the ditch banks along the periphery of Pool 1. Previously, they had cleaned out the ditch, but needed to wait for the spoil to dry out before resloping the banks. When LRRD starts their work, the west side of Pool 1 will be closed to traffic until they move up the ditch.

Enhancing Access for Fisherman

  • We will be adding two fishing docks, one on either side of the lake for bankline fishing opportunity.
  • We will be adding a couple of courtesy docks to help with unloading and trailering fishing boats on the two south boat ramps. These boat ramps will be temporarily closed when this work is being done.
  • Additionally, we will be performing multiple herbicide treatments to improve angler access within Pool 1.

Thank you for your support

All in all the dirt work, plant work, and enhancement to public use will keep the Duck Creek Renovation moving forward. Right now the timeline is still of this work is fluid. We will provide additional updates on the blog or at the Duck Creek office of any temporary road closures or detours. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. Hope you all can get out and enjoy the area this summer.

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Comments

On June 25th, 2013 at 3:55pm frank said:

Two weeks ago I gave a bit of an update with a more recent post on the blog so please check that out. The continued weekly rains haven’t exactly expedited progress.  Until things start to dry out we are literally stuck in the mud. 

On June 18th, 2013 at 4:42pm Anonymous said:

Can you tell us what specific projects are at the "top of the list" at this time? Exactly what has been worked on the past two months and what will be worked on the next two months???

On June 12th, 2013 at 2:50pm Anonymous said:

I never said that they need to rush to get blinds back out there, but would like to see a couple in the future. They don't need to have blinds in all the areas, but I understand if none were put out there. I am not asking for an easy hunt. I walk 2 miles or more carrying all of my gear to hunt some places that I go. Just asking for a place that an elderly or youngin could go without too terribly much trouble. If it ends up being the woods, then so be it. I also do not hunt out of the blinds at Otter when I have one of those spots. Maybe there should be no handicap blinds either. Someone can carry them on their back out there. JK :).

On June 10th, 2013 at 4:10pm frank said:

I don’t know if you noticed the posters in the draw room last year.  We had a couple maps illustrating the proposed contour lines, which is probably the best example.  The Greenbriar Unit has some ditches and cross levees that cut across the contours.  We are going to flatten those and enhance the topography by restoring some sloughs and islands that fit within the natural fall of the land.  We’ll have a few water control structures in place to allow us to draw water down, but flooding this area will be fully reliant on run-off from the surrounding hills or backwater from the Castor River.  From the get-go this area is and will remain more passively managed, but the work will allow the wetland communities to better establish themselves and function in the future.  As the work draws near I might do something similar with a Youtube video as I did with Units A and B, if that’d be helpful.

On June 10th, 2013 at 3:35pm M. Smith said:

Frank, Can you be more specific about the plans for the Greenbriar Unit? Thanks,

On June 10th, 2013 at 1:51pm frank said:

I appreciate the comments and thoughts.  I think we can agree when it comes to hunting there are multiple strategies and preferences.  Let’s table any further discussion on this topic for now.  Later on in the week I’ll try to have another post about our current activities.  Thanks again for your interest and support.

On June 10th, 2013 at 1:49pm frank said:

Having a disabled blind has definitely been discussed.  As was noted earlier, there are a lot of activities going on right now.  A disable blind is in the mix, but not on the top of the list.  

On June 9th, 2013 at 5:50pm Anonymous said:

I hope that they never put blinds back into unit a and b

On June 9th, 2013 at 8:43am Anonymous said:

There are plenty of blinds in the woods units for the young and the elderly. Too many people feel that they are entitled to an easy hunt just because it has been that way in the past. How many blinds are there at Ten Mile Pond. It's not hard to count, ZERO. You guys at Duck Creek do an excellent job. Thanks for all that you do and for this web site that helps to keep us informed, it is another example of how the Duck Creek staff goes above and beyond what is expected or required. You provide and maintain this and forum and you still have people giving you grief here. Just more proof that some will gripe no matter what you do.

On June 9th, 2013 at 5:14am Anonymous said:

When will the spraying begin on the main pool? The lily pads are taking over already. thanks for everything that you all do !!!!!!!!

On June 8th, 2013 at 6:17am Darin said:

Hi guys.....keep up the good work on the renovations just had one quick question about the area. What are the plans, if any, to put some handicap spots back on the area for the disabled hunters? Would like to see some opportunity put out there for them......thank you for the reply in advance!!

On June 8th, 2013 at 6:14am Darin said:

Just wanted to comment on Anonymous last statements. It is frustrating sometimes when you have little kids and your dad is getting older and you can't hunt some spots on the area because of no blind.....I know all to well and you are not alone, but I had to realize that just the time I get to spend with my kids and dad was enough for me. maybe in a couple years they will have a blind or 2 out there but right now is the best time just to soak up some memories with our kids and dad no matter where we get to hunt. Just a thought?

On June 8th, 2013 at 1:28am C.W. said:

So I want to be able to layout hunt in the woods but the blinds are right in the way of where I would need to put my boat. Can you just take a couple of blinds out so those of us that want to layout hunt can use it. This type of logic seems ridiculous right? Some times we need to take a step back an analyze what it is we are asking for. Would a couple of blinds be OK in some of the new A and B units? Sure it would. Is it something that needs to be on the top of the list of things to do, probably not. Marsh hunting is a totally different beast than hunting from the wood blinds. Don't believe me go to Otter Slough and see how many blinds except for the lake are actually hunted out of. Most of the time people will not use the blinds but will use buckets/marsh seats/ layouts/boats because of the nature of the hunt. In these settings it is sometimes crucial to be able to move with the birds within the unit you are hunting, partially do to the space/terrain being much larger. Does this type of hunting make it more difficult for those of us that have small children and or elderly parents? Sure it does. It does not however mean it is impossible. I drug my at the time 7 yr old out with me on my back several times last year to the new units. I had to leave him sitting on the levy while I put out the spread and wedged a bunch of brush down in the mud/water to try and stabilize the tub we hauled the decoys in so he could have a somewhat stable/dry shooting platform while I sat next to him in a marsh seat. Was it optimal? Absolutely not. Did we have a blast? We most certainly did. The best part is I was able to teach him a different style of hunting that he had yet to experience from just sitting in the wood blinds or that he would have had sitting in a blind in the same unit. Diversity and overcoming obstacles is what creates character in our youth which in my opinion is something our youth of today can do to have some more of. Course all of this is just my opinion and we are all entitled to our own.

On June 4th, 2013 at 8:56am frank said:

I understand that the project duration has had its inconveniences.  The design in Units A and B are a shift in habitat and public use. I believe it is for the better.  I also understand the limitations that this may put for the young and elderly in the short term depending upon certain hunting preferences, but don’t think is insurmountable. The scope of work is rather extensive, which means we can’t do everything at once.  Trust me, I wish we could. The point of this post was to let you all know what we will be able to do this year. Yes, we’ve talked about putting a few blinds back in Units A and B, but overall, this are will lend itself better to wade and shoot hunting.  We’ve also said we’d like some time to evaluate where we might put a couple blinds.  All I can ask is for patience and understanding.  I hope that our previous track record of putting work on the ground and the effort to inform folks has shown that we are all in this together and working towards the same goal, making Duck Creek the best it can be for the next 50 years.

On June 3rd, 2013 at 4:28pm Anonymous said:

Now you are saying no blinds will be replaced in Units A and B this year. That means you will not plan to replace ANY BLINDS IN UNITS A AND B EVER. That was not what was promised the public in previous posts on this website. VERY Disappointing news. I hate being lied to!

On May 31st, 2013 at 11:24am Anonymous said:

I understand that having blinds out there means more work, but I have a 6 year old that is not capable of hunting out there unless there is a blind, and my father is aging. All the walking and standing in the mud exhausts him, and in a few years, he will need a blind to sit in. I understand they have the blinds in the woods, but it is a different type of hunting. I would like to introduce my son to both the woods and Unit A/B. We don't need blinds in all of the pools, but a few out there would be nice. The common response I have heard is get a layout boat. That is fine and dandy if I had the extra money laying around, but we all have expenses, and right now other priorities don't allow me to purchase a layout boat for myself and my son.

On May 30th, 2013 at 1:51pm frank said:

I don’t have any additional photos right now.  My colleague had been up in the air for a different project and had snagged one photo that I luckily could use for this post.  However, I’ll keep your request in mind.  I agree, it is amazing to see the plant response post construction and sometimes a bird’s eye-view is the best way to see it.

On May 30th, 2013 at 11:55am Darin said:

Do you by chance have any photos of the rest of A and B unit this time of year? It is interesting to see how the natural vegetation takes over after all of the dirt work from the distribution channels were put in.....thanks!!

On May 28th, 2013 at 7:33am cordek said:

The Wood Duck and Hooded Merganser hatching was delayed about three weeks later than average due to cool temperatures in March.  Once temperatures warmed, both species started catching up in a hurry.  The Hooded Mergansers got a bigger jump start than the Wood Ducks but both species are doing very well.  Conditions are excellent now for rearing broods with plenty of water and foraging for all.  The peak hatch is over now, but we continue to monitor and band about 6 to 8 nests per week. We'll post an update with numbers in a month or two.

On May 27th, 2013 at 9:25pm Roy said:

How is the wood duck hatch/banding looking for this spring? Did the cooler wet spring help? hurt?

On May 27th, 2013 at 7:48pm Anonymous said:

I wish people would stop bothering you about blinds in A & B units. I personally hope that there are never any blinds put back in these areas. You guys do a great job and have enough work to do. Blinds in these areas just increase your work load. Leave the blinds out of A & B units! Those that love to duck hunt and truly know how to duck hunt do not need these luxurys and you guys don't need the extra work involved in maintaining them. Keep up the super job you are doing and don't bother adding more work to your duties.

On May 27th, 2013 at 8:22am frank said:

All of the positions in Units A and B this fall will be a wade and shoot style hunting opportunity.  Blinds will be available in Pools 2 and 3.

On May 27th, 2013 at 8:16am frank said:

At this point, waterfowl hunting at the Greenbriar Unit will remain the same as it has been in recent years.  It will be opportunistic and outside of the morning draw.

On May 25th, 2013 at 9:55pm Anonymous said:

Will any of the blinds be replaced in unit A and unit B in time for the fall waterfowl season???

On May 24th, 2013 at 5:19pm Anonymous said:

When the work is done on the greenbrier unit will there be positions available to hunt and will they be in the draw or available on a first come basis?

On May 24th, 2013 at 12:03pm Darin said:

I am glad to see everything moving forward on the new habitat....I also like the idea of adding trees to the habitat for cover for the ducks and hunters. Keep up the good work guys!!
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