Duck Creek CA UpdatesMore posts

2017 Duck Creek Update: Conditions, Work, and Future Plans

Sep 18, 2017

I realize there haven't been any recent updates on Duck Creek and wanted to give folks an idea of what has happened this summer, how things are shaping up for this fall, and what is in the works for next year.

It was really wet early:

This spring and early summer Duck Creek received 20 inches of rain. For a place that is already inherently wet, this additional moisture postponed the use of any equipment in the field until everything had a good amount of time to dry out. Staff manage to scatter a food plots in between deluges of rain, but these crops didn't weather the extra damp soil conditions.

Current Conditions:

The moist soil plants did respond well in various locations and recently the staff have been able to get out and disk openings in the thick summer growth so that spots will show water early this fall. This management also helps set back succession where undesirable plants were becoming established and will prep the soil for next year's food production. Flooded conditions exist in parts of Units A and B (14, 54, and the distribution channel) along the sloughs, disked flats, and summer growth to provide habitat for early fall migrants. Hurricane Irma caused overcast conditions and some scattered showers, but nothing too significant. As the fall progresses water levels will continue to provide additional habitat in correspondence with migration, waterfowl season, and habitat type.

Current Work:

In the next week some necessary dirt work along the boatlanes in Pools 2 and 3 will be addressed. Spoil piles occur up and down the boatlanes that cut into the interior of these pools. You may not have ever noticed these lumpy linear dirt mounds, but over the years they have blocked water from draining parts of the flooded timber and have had some negative consequences. In certain locations pin oaks have died back and more water tolerant maples have started to spring up. This change in forest composition actually helped identify our biggest problem areas, but we'd like to do something about it. Now that we know where to focus our efforts, we plan to alleviate these ponding problems and remove these selected spoil piles. This should help with the interior hydrology as well as the long-term health and composition of the forest within these units.

Future work:

Other renovation work focused on Duck Creek will not affect public use this fall and will be centered in the office in preparation for the next construction season. Engineering plans are being drawn up to address several infrastructure needs along the perimeter of pools. This includes several water control structures in Pool 2 and 3 that need to be replaced. The integration of water control structures and levee fortification will also allow water to be managed more efficiently in Pool 2 and the forested section of the Grim tract to the south. Replacing the footbridges that allow access to Pool 8 will round out the final punch list. These plans will be let out in a future contract for the 2018 construction season. This last contract should tie up the loose ends and wrap up the renovation work on Duck Creek.

That is quick and dirty synopsis of what is going on. With each cool front more birds should begin to move south, the leaves will begin to change, and the next waterfowl season will be getting ever closer. We hope to see you this fall at Duck Creek. Thanks for your interest, understanding, and support.

Picture1.png

Flooded field
Flooded Disked Mud-Flats
Early fall migrants will encounter flooded disked mud-flats amid the summer growth of moist soil plants at Duck Creek in portions of Units A and B.

Comments

After seeing the bulldozer going down the boat lane at the X blinds in Pool 3 I wish to inquire if any more blinds are being destroyed in pool 2 or 3? Will C pool be in the hunting options this season???

Sorry for the delay in addressing your earlier questions. The dozer you saw in Pool 3 was in relation to the spoil pile removal, which will help allow water to flow more freely and reduce impacts to the adjacent pin oaks. This is highlighted under “Current Work” in the accompanying blog post. Your additional questions are answered below. Thank you.

Hi. Will C Pool be included in the available hunting positions this year???

C Pool is operational this year, however, it is reliant on opportunistic flooding from local rainfall or water getting out of the adjacent ditch. Its addition to the morning draw will depend on upon the weather creating this opportunity.

Are any other blinds on duck creek scheduled for destruction this year?

No blinds were removed this year. In recent weeks staff brushed blinds and took care of any maintenance issues in preparation for this fall.

Hi. I noticed the pumps on at the south end of A Unit. I was wondering what the time line was this year for flooding Units A and B?

To provide some habitat for early fall migrants and teal season we did turn the pumps on to flood 14, 54, 18, and 20 and the distribution meander. Water is currently flowing into 10, 11, 13, and 8. In other spots we have temporarily held off flooding to take advantage of this year’s dry fall. The last several growing seasons have been pretty wet, which has kept us from being able to get equipment in certain spots and set back succession to control some less than desirable plants. Staff are taking advantage of the weather and disking spots to provide some open water habitat once water is added to these pools. This also has the added benefit of preparing the soil for better food production next year. If the dry weather holds we should be complete with this disking work in the next week and give us time to add water prior to the opener. Thanks for the question. Waterfowl season will be here before we know it.

We came down this past weekend to fish. I have not been down in a couple of years. The lake is 95% unfishable due to the pads. Are there any future plans to work on the lake conditions? I see where the large pads had been sprayed this summer, but that just allowed the smaller dollar pads to fill in those areas. we did see a lot of small flocks of ducks working the main pool though. glad to see your blogs back up. Always enjoyed seeing what was happening at Duck Creek

I shared our Pool 1 question with Paul Cieslewicz, our fisheries biologist for the area. He has provided an in depth explanation of how he manages the aquatic plants in this impoundment. Pool 1 has the perfect environment for aquatic plants. The water is shallow, clear, and nutrient rich. In general, aquatic plants cover 90% of the surface by August. All of this plant life creates great places for bugs and fish to hide, grow, and live out their lives. Our 2017 spring electrofishing survey showed once again that Pool 1 produces quality largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, warmouth sunfish, black crappie, and chain pickerel. No other public lake in our region produces such quality fish. Unfortunately, all of these aquatic plants can be an obstacle for anglers. To improve angler access, herbicides are applied annually. The Pool 1 plant community can be separated into floating (water shield, white water lily, and American lotus) and submerged (milfoil, coontail, elodea, and fanwort) plants. Floating plants can easily be controlled with glyphosate products, such as Rodeo (aquatic version of Roundup). The submerged plant community is dominated by fanwort. Fanwort forms dense mats and is extremely difficult to control with herbicides.

To date there are only two herbicides which are labeled to control fanwort. Sonar, a fluridone based herbicide is a systemic herbicide (not a contact). Aquatic plant control is obtained by maintaining an adequate fluridone concentration in the treated area for ~45 days. Consequently, Sonar is applied in a split treatment (75% and 25% treatments). Sonar cannot be used to create boat lanes or small openings (

The Pool 1 aquatic herbicide treatment plan can be broken into even and odd years. On odd years, we treat the area adjacent to the NE boat ramp. On June 6th 2017, Clipper is applied to a 10-acre plot in front of the NE ramp (herbicide cost ~$5,000). We also sprayed Rodeo to control the floating aquatic plants. In early September, the effectiveness of this Clipper treatment is measured. This year 35 acres of water were “easily fishable” in this area. "Easily fishable areas” are defined as an area where you can take a child fishing and you won’t spend all day taking weeds off of their hook. A more experienced angler will be able to fish a much larger area. In 2018, fanwort will slowly recolonize this area but not to a level that requires a 2018 treatment.

On even years, we apply Clipper or Sonar to the SE and SW corners of the pool. We treat the corners because the levees help maintain herbicide concentrations (reduce dilution) and the new fishing docks are located in these areas. Both of these treatment areas are ~20 acres in size. In 2016, we treated the SW corner of the pool with Clipper (herbicide cost ~$9,750). In the SE corner, we applied Sonar (herbicide cost ~ $32,000). In general, each herbicide treatment controls approximately 100 acres of fanwort due to herbicide drift. As stated above, fanwort will slowly recolonize these corners but not to a level that requires additional treatments until 2018. In 2018, the SW corner will be treated with Sonar and the SE corner with Clipper. Every summer we also apply Rodeo to control the floating plants along the south shoreline and to create boat lanes throughout the pool. The south shoreline is sprayed to provide access for shoreline anglers. There is still a large amount of rootwads and logs along this shoreline to provide excellent fish habitat.

Thank you for your reply. Duck Creek is a different lake. We have fished there since the 60's. I'm sure back then everyone complained about the coontail moss but at least it was fishable. The pads are impossible to get thru. The fish we did catch were all healthy fish. Thank you for everything you all do at Duck Creek.

Hi. Can you tell us the current lake level and will there be enough water to flood pools 2 and 3 early in the waterfowl season?

I'm not sure of the exact level of Pool 1, but given the amount of rain received earlier in the year there should be enough to flood the timber this fall. In terms of timing, as in years past, I can't give you an exact date. Right now we are working on the spoil piles and trying get this work done in Pools 2 and 3 as soon as possible, while the conditions are dry. We will need to complete this first and plan to do so before waterfowl season. Another consideration that we always consider is the soil temperature and timing of tree dormancy or senescence. We have been putting water in the lower positions with more water tolerant species first and then gradually flooding up. The timing of Pool 2 and 3 will vary to balance both hunting and forest community health among years. Stressing trees out year in and year out doesn't bode well. Additionally, the delayed flooding schedule coincides with the later migration timing of mallards and is more sustainable long-term for a quality bottomland forest. This has been our management philosophy and it is also reflected by our neighbors to the south. You can check out Arkansas Game and Fish's updated Greentree Reservoir Management strategies. Thanks for the question.

Right now there are not any plans to replace or add any additional blinds on the area. As we prepare for waterfowl season and the blinds are being brushed up, we’ll check things over to make sure they are operational for waterfowl season. Thanks for the heads up on E-1, we'll be sure address the issue.

When deer or turkey hunting on Duck Creek you’ll have to check in and out at the headquarters. If locations are temporarily off limits, you’ll find the most up to date information posted at the headquarters. I hope you have a good fall hunting season.

Hi. If a person wanted to turkey hunt or deer hunt what areas should be avoided due to the hog problems on Duck Creek?

Hi great to see the new post. Are any plans in the works to replace Blinds E-2 E-4 H-4 I-1 in Pool 2? And B-4 X-4 in Pool 3? Any blinds being constructed in Unit A? Has the floor in E-1 been repaired? It has a small hole in it.

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