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A Swiss-Army Knife, the Weather, and Wetlands:

Looking For Critters

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Aquatic Community of a Restored Slough

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Starhead Topminnow

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Published on: Aug. 7, 2014

The other night I sat outside in the shade and enjoyed the cool breeze and pondered the weather, the function of a good multi-tool like a Gerber or Swiss-army knife, and their relation to wetlands. Bear with me for a minute and I'll highlight the linkage between these three potentially unrelated topics.

Fair Weather Report

Overall, I'd have to say this summer's weather has been pretty darn good. Statewide this is reflected in the good to excellent crop conditions for 84% of the state's corn and 76% for the state's soybeans. If we reflect a little about the past couple years, we can't say that this is the norm. In southeast Missouri, during 2011 we had the big flood, followed by drought that extended through 2012. Last summer's weather shifted gears again back to a wet period and then we had one of the coldest winters since the late '80's.

Diversity of Wetlands

With the seasonal ebb and flow of water, wetlands are naturally diverse. During hot, dry summers conditions can get bone dry. Different plants might germinate due to the shift in soil moisture and there might be less aquatic habitat available for fish, frogs, and other water birds. On the flip side, after a hard rain water sprawls out of the ditches and across the flats and depending upon the time of year all sorts of critters can use the flooded conditions. From one year to the next and even one spot to another, in a wetland, conditions may vary.

Embedded in the Renovation

One aspect of the renovations at Duck Creek that we have tried to incorporate has been wetland diversity. Throughout Units A and B we have enhanced the topographic diversity by restoring sloughs across the units. These aren't really large features. They only encompass 8% of the total 1,000 acres, but I think they are kind of cool.

Plant Response

Over the last couple years we've seen them go from bare dirt to shallow channels dotted with floating plants or sloughs skirted with a fringe of lush aquatic vegetation. Some of these species have come from natural germination of seeds in the seed bank or those deposited by foraging and defecating ducks. Other plants were given a head start by being propagated and planted by Department staff. Overall, we've been very pleased with progress the plants have made.

Fish Sampling

These plants point towards another positive. The vertical and horizontal structure provides shade, cover, and food

Key Messages: 

Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.

Comments

On August 28th, 2014 at 10:39am frank said:

At Greenbriar they’ve been making progress clearing debris, pouring the head walls on some water control structures, and prepping for the dirt work.  The corn crop in Pool 2 is growing.  It is a little weak in places, but it is providing the soil disturbance we need to set back the beaked sedge.  In Unit A the distribution channel is flooded for teal like last year.  There is a little water in the oxbow on the southern half of 15 and 22 has been receiving water over the last two weeks.   

On August 28th, 2014 at 10:33am frank said:

Technically, you can bow hunt the north end of Pool 1 up to the water’s edge.  However, due to Pool 1 being a waterfowl refuge the gate the north road will be closed after October 15th so you might have a little extra work ahead of you. 

On August 27th, 2014 at 10:44pm Anonymous said:

What progress has been made in the Greenbriar unit? How is the corn crop looking in Pool 2? Which units in A and B units have huntable water for teal?

On August 26th, 2014 at 12:23am Anonymous said:

can you bow hunt the north end of pool 1 after Oct 15

On August 25th, 2014 at 8:29am frank said:

So far we haven’t spotted any teal.  Last week we spotted some shorebirds using the recently flooded mudflats and a group of pintail in Unit A.  This along with reports of teal and some shovelers at other wetland areas indicate that early fall migration has begun…even though the heat index doesn’t quite feel like it.

On August 24th, 2014 at 12:47pm Anonymous said:

Any teal on duck creek yet? Estimate?

On August 19th, 2014 at 1:53pm frank said:

Ah, gotcha.  Yes, the dozer was filling in some low spots in 16 before the several days of rain last week.  The tricky part is that the lowest spots are the first to get water and the last to dry out. We're trying to address things where we can and when we have the chance.

On August 19th, 2014 at 1:11pm Anonymous said:

What I was asking about the high ground in 16 and 18 was not about pushing water higher in those units. I was asking if any plans were in place to push some of the high ground dirt in 16 and 18 on the west high side toward the deeper east side of those two units. With a bulldozer on site I was hoping that would be the case. Any plans to do just that?

On August 18th, 2014 at 3:35pm frank said:

This year access to 53 will be the same.  Hopefully, in the future we will be able to have a footbridge put in place.  As far as pushing water further up on the high ground to the west side of 16 and 18 that isn’t possible. The levees are located on the contours to distribute the most amount of shallow water habitat.  By adding more water to the pool on the west side would cause water on the east side to be too deep. During the last couple of years we've planted wheat on this higher ground and the geese have keyed into so we have tried to capitalize on the space we have for different opportunities.  Thanks for the questions.

On August 18th, 2014 at 3:31pm frank said:

Yes, doves, teal, and rails could possibly be taken during a hunt on Duck Creek during teal season as long as you are properly licensed with a migratory bird hunting permit and small game hunting permit.  If the distribution channel is vacant of other parties, a paddle or walk up this corridor to jump shoot birds would be legal. Currently, you couldn’t paddle all of the way up. Water is being added to the channel and at some point it should be deep enough to float except for the last quarter of the northern most part of channel. Another thing to consider is that you’ll encounter vegetation in channel about halfway up as the water becomes shallower. Paddling further might be a challenge.  That being said, sounds like fun day in the marsh with several different shooting opportunities. 

On August 18th, 2014 at 12:19pm Anonymous said:

Any progress with access to 53 in B Unit? A footbridge or culvert along the road would be great? I noticed the bulldozer at the corner of 16. Last year I noticed the west side of 16 and 18 had little or no water. Any plans on pushing the high ground east in 16 and 18?

On August 14th, 2014 at 9:54am Anonymous said:

Can doves be taken during a teal hunt at duck creek? Also I've considered doing a float type hunt for teal. If the marsh is empty can I legally put a canoe in at the head of the distribution channel and float through hoping to jump shoot teal. Could I do this and is it deep enough? Thanks!

On August 14th, 2014 at 9:27am frank said:

Yes, we’ve got corn food plots scattered around Unit A, Unit B, and Pool 2 and they are growing. Last week the contractors were clearing debris at Greenbriar, but I believe the rain earlier this week has probably slowed them down for a bit.

On August 12th, 2014 at 8:53pm Anonymous said:

Were there any food plots planted in B unit? How is the corn crop looking in pool 2 and A unit? Any progress in the Greenbriar unit?

On August 8th, 2014 at 8:00pm frank said:

In the last couple weeks we had begun to address some of the spots that are lower than desired. Unfortunately, the rain this week has set things back again. 

On August 7th, 2014 at 8:12pm Anonymous said:

Another great article!!! Have any plans been advanced in filling in or leveling several of the deep spots in 15, 18, and 16 in Unit A?
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