A Swiss-Army Knife, the Weather, and Wetlands:
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.
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.
These plants point towards another positive. The vertical and horizontal structure provides shade, cover, and food